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Turning 360-degree feedback into a realistic action plan

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Many companies find it useful to include 360-degree feedback in their employee performance management process. Employees have the opportunity to learn and improve based on constructive feedback from managers, peers and direct reports. Businesses can boost their bottom line through improved performance by employees. However, these benefits are only achieved if the employees involved take action based on the feedback they receive.

Many employees find it difficult to turn 360-degree feedback into realistic action plans. They may find the volume of feedback overwhelming or be uncertain how to deal with conflicting or negative feedback. You can help your employees to develop action plans using 360-degree feedback by following a few simple steps.

Arrange for a Trained Facilitator to Discuss the Results with Employees

The amount of information available in a 360-degree feedback report can overwhelm an employee if he is not used to this type of performance management process. Employees often find it helpful if an experienced facilitator talks them through the feedback and assists them to identify key themes and underlying messages.
An objective facilitator can help employees to avoid getting caught up in distracting details. Ideally, the facilitator should be independent and not part of the employee's line management structure. When the facilitator is viewed as objective, the employee is more likely to be open to hearing and accepting negative feedback.

Remember the four golden rules for delivering feedback to employees.

Provide Time to Absorb and Digest the Feedback

Employees often find it difficult to begin action planning immediately on receipt of 360-degree feedback. Individuals need time to absorb and digest feedback, particularly if it has negative elements or does not match their view of themselves.

Allow employees a week to ten days between receiving the initial feedback and beginning the action planning process to ensure that they have had time to consider the comments made about their performance and behaviors.

Plan in Achievable Milestones

Rather than compiling a long wish-list of issues to be tackled, encourage employees to choose three or four priority areas that need to be addressed. Employees are less likely to feel daunted by the resulting action plan.

The actions set out in the plan should be SMART:

Specific set out in detail what has to be done by whom.
Measurable defining what success will look like before the action begins can avoid problems in the future.
Achievable the action should be within the employee's capability or span of control.
Realistic ensure there are no barriers to success.
Time-bound set realistic timescales for achievement of each task or action.

It can help to plan in milestones that can be measured at regular intervals to ensure that the plan remains on track.

Provide Supportive Follow Up

Once an action plan has been put in place, the line manager should make arrangements to meet regularly with the employee to review performance against the plan (try to keep employee performance reviews short and frequent). When setting up the meetings, the emphasis should be on supporting the employee to improve and rewarding achievement of milestones. However, regular meetings also enable the line manager to identify if there is any delay or difficulty in achieving agreed milestones. Prompt intervention can help to get employees back on track. The use of 360-degree feedback software can help employees and managers to monitor progress against the agreed action plan.

Use constructive feedback to motivate and develop employees. See how Primalogik 360 can help you organize your 360-degree feedback reviews and give it a try!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net