HomeEmployee ExperienceCultureRound and around we go: Crafting successful 360-degree feedback loops

Round and around we go: Crafting successful 360-degree feedback loops

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360 feedback is a valuable tool for enhancing employee self-awareness and identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

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360-degree feedback has become a cornerstone of employee development in many organizations. This multi-source feedback system involves gathering insights about an employee’s performance from a variety of stakeholders, including managers, peers, subordinates, and even customers.

The goal is to provide a holistic view of an employee’s strengths and areas for improvement, fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth.

However, implementing a 360-degree feedback system is not without its challenges. It requires careful planning, clear communication, and a commitment to using the feedback for development rather than performance evaluation.

1. Set clear goals

The first step in implementing a successful 360-degree feedback program is to establish clear goals. This process should be used purely for developmental purposes, not for performance reviews. When feedback is tied to performance rating, pay, or promotion, it can negatively affect the fidelity of responses from raters or sometimes be viewed as a political tool.

2. Train rates

Before starting with 360 assessments, it’s crucial to provide adequate training for anyone involved in the rating process. Proper training ensures consistency in how feedback is provided and helps create a positive momentum for engagement, productivity, and better, more honest relationships with colleagues, leaders, and direct reports.

3. Focus on natural strengths

A strengths-based approach to development is recommended, where the primary focus is on an individual’s natural strengths rather than areas that do not come most naturally. Focusing coaching on only developmental areas will give only incremental results while focusing on people’s natural talents can provide exponential growth.

4. Involve managers and leaders

Managers and leaders should be involved in the process to clearly convey what is being asked of their teams. They should be encouraged to spend time with each of their employees through both formal and informal check-ins.

5. Create buy-in and trust

Engaging senior leader champions is critical for a successful 360 development program. Take the time to educate and reiterate the importance of feedback and how it helps to address future skill needs of the organization as well as provide development to employees.

6. Careful rater selection

The number of employees who provide feedback and how they are associated contribute to the results. Employees with no opportunity to interact and observe each other will not be able to provide valid information. This is why rater selection is an important step.

7. Participant training

Conducting training and providing guidelines on successful execution can be useful, especially when the feedback process is conducted online. Many reviewers might be unfamiliar with the technology and struggle to provide feedback.

8. Carefully curated feedback

Some online 360-degree feedback platforms calculate and present the data on their own but doing it manually internally might require someone to put the data together. This needs to be done carefully, and the report should be worded to encourage the receiver. Visual data depictions are always helpful and actionable points provide further direction.

Case study: Tesco embeds new leadership skills

Tesco recognized the need to adapt and revitalize its business strategy. The company embarked on a comprehensive review, pinpointing the need for a new approach that would resonate with both the market and their employees. At the heart of this renewed strategy was a commitment to nurturing a more engaging and supportive workplace culture, where colleagues felt valued and motivated by their managers.

To achieve this, Tesco decided to implement a 360-degree feedback program, tailored specifically to its unique corporate environment. This program was designed with a keen focus on intuitiveness and alignment with Tesco’s internal language and culture. The goal was to create a feedback mechanism that spoke the same language as the employees, fostering a sense of familiarity and ease of use.

The program, developed in collaboration with a specialized team, emphasized a conversational style in its questioning, mirroring the informal and direct communication style prevalent within Tesco. This approach ensured that the feedback process was not only efficient but also engaging for the participants

“We needed the 360 tool to feel the same as the other materials our people were already using in relation to the key leadership skills. Everything at Tesco should be simple and we wanted this to be too – quick to use, simple to complete, ensuring our colleagues would ‘get it’ – and more importantly, want to use it,” said Jon Sale, Tesco’s Group Head of Talent.

“Also, the introduction of a summary report gives our 360 participants a really quick and accessible overview of their results. They’ve found it particularly insightful to see their strengths, development areas and perception gaps in one place.”

 A key feature of the program was the introduction of a summary report, offering participants a concise yet comprehensive overview of their feedback, highlighting strengths, areas for development, and any perception gaps.

The implementation of the 360-degree feedback tool had a tangible impact across various levels of the company. For senior managers and directors, it served as a precursor to the ‘Leaders at Tesco’ training program, helping to identify personal strengths and areas needing development in line with new leadership skills.

The insights gained from the feedback were instrumental in shaping individual personal development plans.

Moreover, the tool proved beneficial for employees at various other levels, including those identified as high-potential. It helped in pinpointing development needs and facilitating more informed career conversations.

As the 360-degree feedback became an established practice within Tesco, it also found its place in the performance review process. The “Inspiring Great Performance” program, which aimed to redefine performance management, incorporated the 360 tool as a crucial element.

This integration underscored the program’s focus on not just what was achieved by an individual, but equally how it was achieved, placing a spotlight on behavior as well as performance.

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