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Effective 360-degree feedback surveys

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Feedback from coworkers, subordinates, peers and supervisors can be an invaluable tool in any performance review process. The main advantage of multi-source feedback is that it can provide management with a less skewed view of an employee’s performance and it can help you build development plans for employees and leaders. There are a number of aspects you should consider when implementing a 360 process to make sure your 360-degree feedback surveys provide you with honest feedback and effective results.

Here are some suggestions to get the most out of your 360-degree feedback surveys:

Make sure it fits your organization

The culture or work environment of some organizations is just not suitable for a 360-degree feedback. If your organization is undergoing a major reorganization or if there's a blame culture in your company, implementing a 360 process could have negative effects. Organizations with high degree of trust among peers and management are good candidates for 360 feedback. Companies that value and encourage openness and collaboration are also good candidates. Before anything else, you need to figure out if your organization is ready for 360 feedback.

Define and communicate your goals

You need to have a clear idea of how the 360-degree feedback process fits with your overall employee development efforts. How often are you going to ask for feedback? What are you going to do with the feedback?

Get buy-in from the organization

Make sure everybody in the organization knows why the 360 feedback process is implemented and what the feedback will be used for. Employees will only provide honest feedback if they believe it will be used for the right reasons and if it is confidential (in some cases employees will be comfortable to provide feedback only if it is anonymous).

Run a pilot

You should run the process with a group of employees or only selected areas. Get real feedback on employees using the actual questionnaires you developed. This pilot project will allow you to validate your questionnaires and to address any concerns from participants. It will also allow you to get comfortable with the tools and get ready to prepare action plans based on the feedback and comments.

Choose appropriate respondents

Involve people that sufficiently know the employee under review. Try to include people from different areas of your organization that work directly with the employee.

Analyze results and follow-up with each employee

Do not send raw results to employees without any analysis or pre-processing. You need to analyze results, put some context in and produce an action plan for each one of your employees. And you also need to follow-up with each one of them to ensure they are making progress within that plan. Always follow-up.

Rinse and repeat

The 360-degree process is not a one time thing. Repeat the process and compare results to ensure the right behaviors are being reinforced and that your people are developing the right competencies. The process can be polished, questionnaires can be perfected, questions can be refined. Rinse and repeat.