In my previous blog on this subject I discussed some of the aspects that organisations need to get right when preparing for a 360° feedback exercise.
In this follow-up, I’ll consider some of the more detailed features that need to be sorted to make a 360° feedback exercise a success.
- Are the purpose and objectives clear, not only to HR professionals but to all involved – participants, raters, stakeholders, senior managers? What is your mechanism for disseminating this information?
- How will you involve senior management to ensure that the process is seen as credible? How will you be able to publicise that you have their involvement and support (Are they doing it themselves – inviting feedback, giving feedback to each other)?
- Has a clear process for identifying the most appropriate raters been agreed? Who will have responsibility for contacting raters, inviting them to give feedback and explaining what is required?
- Will the recipients have full involvement in identifying who they think is in the best position to comment on their performance? What advice will you offer, how will you stop them skewing the results in favour of ‘their friends’.
- What steps will you take to ensure that feedback does not identify the rater? How will you brief the raters?
- Given that IT is being used, has the security of the system been considered? Will senior managers be able to see feedback provided to their reports by their reports, when does confidential become not confidential?
- Who will run a “helpline” or provide a clear point of contact for anyone seeking advice?
- Are the deadlines clear (and realistic) and who monitors whether they are being met? To what extent will you ‘encourage’ raters, if they are hesitant?
- Will the feedback be communicated face-to-face? If so, have those giving the feedback been trained in the relevant skills?
- Would a pilot scheme be helpful?
Get these aspects right, together with the necessary preparation discussed in my previous blog ‘360° Feedback – Positive or Negative, and you’ll be on the right lines for a successful 360° feedback process.
Many organisations find it helpful to run a ‘pilot’ exercise. Often, instructions that are unclear are identified, deadlines need adjusting, IT system issues emerge and, most frequently, rater uncertainty needs resolving.
The raters are absolutely key to success. Whilst you want them to be specific, you don’t want them to give illustrations that identify themselves e.g. ‘when I was with Lee in London talking about …’
In my experience, the most successful exercises also provide detailed guidance for raters – something along these lines:
- Be honest
But do think about the participant, use words that focus on development
- Be factual
Don’t try and describe the participant’s motives or intent, just describe facts
- Don’t exaggerate
Avoid words like ‘always’, ‘every’, ‘constantly’ or ‘never’
- Use first hand experiences
Don’t comment on things you have heard from someone else
- Answer the statements asked
This is not an opportunity on other issues in the workplace. If there are issues like that, raise them with your manager separately
Given that this process is all about feedback, it’s really important to to make sure you have a process planned to review the success of the programme. How will you get feedback on that?
360° exercises are often available in templates and of course they are helpful but there is no pattern that fits every organisation. Yes, questions and formats can follow a standard (although I would strongly recommend branding to fit your own style) but, and it is a really important ‘but’, the culture, the people and the behaviours of your organisation are unique – one size does not fit all!
As one of our wise consultants once said to me “360° feedback is a classic situation where the organisers need to ask themselves over and over ‘what could possibly go wrong’ and then takes steps to make sure that won't happen in reality!”
Good luck, you know where to come for advice - just contact us.
Nigel Walpole, MD, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my thoughts on some of the key issues facing managers in the workplace - lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.
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