Webinar: Employee Engagement Best Practices for 2021

Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Time: 1:00pm Eastern / 10:00 am Pacific

Presenters: David Long, VP of Assessment, DecisionWise

Cost: Complimentary, with free registration

One question to consider as you think about whether to put effort and investment into employee engagement: “Is engagement worth the effort and investment we put into it?” The short answer to this question is “yes,” but depending on the type of organization you are, engagement may be more critical or less critical to your success.

During this webinar we’ll share the best methods for preparing, administering, and rolling out the results from your employee engagement survey based on over 20 years of experience conducting surveys around the world. We’ll also identify the most common mistakes organizations make when conducting an employee engagement survey and how to avoid them.

This Webinar qualifies for SHRM and HRCI credit.  

The DecisionWise 360 Degree Feedback Platform

Supervisor and employee discussing results of a 360 degree feedback survey one-on-one

DecisionWise has been helping organizations create world-class employee experiences for nearly three decades. Over this time, we have witnessed a meaningful evolution in how we measure, interpret, and act on employee feedback. One thing that has not changed is the tremendous influence the manager has on creating a positive or negative employee experience.

Leader experiences (their own experiences and the experiences they create for others) are foundational in creating world-class employee experiences. 360-degree feedback is vital to this process as it establishes, measures, and monitors critical leadership competencies and behaviors.

Sadly, 360-degree feedback tools (360s) sometimes carry a bad reputation. Some organizations have used 360s as a weapon to punish less-effective managers or establish evidence to discipline employees. The misfortune in this approach is that many now avoid what is perhaps the most powerful tool available in creating a positive leader experience. 360s effectively drive the overall employee experience as they are specifically targeted at the key intersection of the employee and the manager. Organizations that fail to embrace 360-degree feedback as part of building a rich employee experience will be left behind.

DecisionWise has spent the last two years honing and revising our leadership competency library to reflect today’s leadership practices and has invested millions of dollars into building the strongest multi-rater technology in the world. Traditional survey technologies are unable to effectively setup, administer, and report on multi-rater assessments. The value behind this purpose-built technology and the science behind it, is that it is simple. Simple to set up, simple to administer, and simple to create reports and coach. Whether you need to assess 10 leaders or 10,000 leaders, the DecisionWise 360-Degree platform makes it simple!

Defining Expectation

Leadership competency models are foundational to the effectiveness of the DecisionWise 360-degree feedback platform. Whether you are using the DecisionWise competency model or your own, these competencies create the baseline for setting leadership expectations with your leaders. Our assessment builder functionality enables organizations to create targeted assessments based on the desired competency model. Assessments can vary between leadership function or organizational structure. Create leadership expectations that will drive successful organizational culture, whether for Executive Leaders, Vice Presidents, Team leads, or individual contributors. 

Measuring Leadership Competencies

We all agree it’s difficult to improve that which you do not measure, which is why DecisionWise has made measuring easy. A 360-degree feedback assessment is a specific tool that enables organizations to measure the individual strengths and opportunities surrounding their competency models. Assessment administration is incredibly simple on the DecisionWise 360 Platform. Rater selection can be quickly set up by an uploaded list or you can allow participants to actively participate in the process by choosing their own raters from pre-populated employee lists. Critical oversight into the process is maintained through a simplified rater approval process.

During the feedback collection process, participants and raters manage assigned assessments through an individualized assessment portal while administrators have control to add and remove raters, open and close assessments, send reminder emails and more.

Individual Reporting

Leaders don’t want to be overwhelmed with complicated reports that require a degree in data analytics to interpret. Our teams have spent years simplifying the individual report to include what matters most. The platform report settings allow organizations to create variations of the standard reports using pre-configured modules. Modules such as gap analysis, radar plots, key metrics, competency distributions can be turned on or off with the click of a button. Individual reports can be viewed online or downloaded into a PDF.

Leaders who wish to compare themselves against others can easily add benchmark data to the reports. With the platform you can use DecisionWise benchmarks or create internal benchmarks in a matter of seconds. You have the option of showing up to 2 benchmarks in the report.

Aggregate Reporting

Organizations that are creating world-class employee experiences rely on data and evidence as they constantly strive to listen and understand. Those organizations using our aggregated data reports will uncover insights about their culture that were previously obscured or hidden altogether. The DecisionWise 360-platform seamlessly aggregates reports based on a participant tagging system. Tags can be based on titles, training cohorts, demographics, and more. Aggregate reports highlight organizational leadership strengths and opportunities while also uncovering internal training successes and needs.

Action Planning and Accountability

Participating in a 360-degree feedback assessment is often an emotional journey. It is common for participants to experience emotions of shock, surprise, anger, resistance, acceptance, and satisfaction. Having a plan to help participants work through these emotions will establish whether the 360 program is a success or not. The DecisionWise 360 Platform RX library tools enable organizations to provide suggestions and resources for strengthening and improving leadership competencies. Your organization can use resources provided by DecisionWise or connect our reports with your internal LMS system. You can also create custom content with available online resources.  Lastly, include the DecisionWise action planning guide with the individual report to help participants design and structure their individual development plans.

Those leaders who engage with another person for accountability are more likely to see significant improvement in how they measure against the leadership competencies. Individual and group coaching sessions, manager one-on-ones, or mentor programs legitimize the importance of action planning and accountability and are facilitated through our platform. 

In summary, creating world-class employee experiences doesn’t just happen on its own. Organizations must deliberately create expectations for leaders to follow.  DecisionWise helps organizations measure, report, and verify that core leadership expectations are being met. Our platform drives accountability and creates discipline in how leaders build experiences that help employees bring their very best to their work and the organizations they care about. 

Infographic: Setting Leadership Expectations Through Competencies

Download the PDF of “Setting Leadership Expectations Through Competencies”

One of the best ways to help leaders provide a great, consistent employee experience is by establishing a competency model. This is defined as a collection of behaviors that are set as an expectation to leaders in the organization. It is also known as a “success profile” or “operating principles.”

Here are 5 ways that having an effective leadership competency model will help your organization.

Define Effective Leadership

Be deliberate about selecting a competency model that really defines a successful leader in your organization, considering your unique culture and the requirements to succeed in your industry.

Set Behavioral Expectations

Create broad accountability for leaders by communicating expectations to the whole organization. Top leaders should model these stated behaviors and lead by example.

In addition to communicating expectations with existing employees, make it a part of your interview or on-boarding process with new employees to say, “This is what an excellent leader in our organization does.”

Guide leadership actions and practices

Use a 360-Degree Feedback tool to measure a leader’s strengths and weaknesses against your competency model. This can be used for individual development or incorporated into a performance review.

This is a great method for building self-awareness and helping leaders understand the experience they’re creating for their employees.

Inform and Train Leaders

Integrate competencies into learning and development programs. Organizations should provide tools and training for managers to help meet the expectations they’re setting up.

Help Leaders Navigate Critical Moments

An employee’s experience is defined by moments that are planned (hiring, on-boarding, performance reviews, etc.) and unplanned (personal issues, workplace conflict, layoffs, etc.).

Having defined leadership competencies and behaviors helps prepare leaders to navigate these critical moments.

For more on 360-degree feedback and competencies:

360-degree platform

Podcast: How 360 Degree Feedback Improves Workplace Culture

Perks of a modern work space

In this podcast episode, Dave Long and Christian Nielson discuss critical moments in the employee experience and how they are shaped by expectations.

Learn about the best practices for setting expectations in your organization, effective leadership competency models, and how the 360-Degree feedback assessment contributes to an improved workplace culture.

For more on 360-degree Feedback, visit: https://decision-wise.com/360-degree-feedback/

Maximizing the Effectiveness 360-Degree Feedback Strategies

Woman measures her 360 degree feedback on her laptop

The effectiveness of 360-degree feedback as a tool for individual development is recognized by most organizations. While it is possible to run a 360 purely for individual development–this is the classic purpose behind most 360s–it is also common for there to be additional organizational objectives behind the assessment. There is nothing wrong with understanding and tapping into the full power and effectiveness of the 360-degree feedback process; however, organizations sometimes fail to be clear about their purpose, which leads to anxiety and distrust around the process.

ENGAGEMENT MAGIC - Managers Engage Their Employees

View our webinar: “How to Build an Effective 360 Feedback Assessment”.

360 programs fail to reach full effectiveness when transparency is lacking and when the administration process hints at ulterior motives behind the programs. Being transparent about the purpose of the 360, and then engineering the administration process to serve that purpose, can help build trust in the process and ultimately make the process more effective. Having debriefed and coached hundreds of people on 360-degree feedback, I have seen where poor communication and misaligned processes led to distrust in the participants.

This article outlines 4 common 360-degree feedback strategies and offers a few tips on how to maximize the effectiveness of each one.

360-Degree Feedback for Individual Development

As mentioned before, a key purpose of 360-degree feedback should be the personal development of the participant receiving the feedback. If you are using the 360 as a pure development tool, you should make this very clear for participants. Most participants are relieved to hear the program will be used solely for their own development. You ultimately communicate this in three ways:

  1. Use traditional written and verbal communication to say the 360 is being used purely for individual development
  2. Explain how confidentiality will be protected
  3. Administer the 360 process in a way that nobody would question that it is being used for anything other than individual development

For example, if you say to a participant that the 360 is being run purely for individual development, and you provide a copy of their report to their manager, the employee will see an ulterior motive other than their own development. Likewise, allowing them to select their own raters, giving them complete and sole control of their reports, providing them with coaching resources, and relying less on benchmark comparisons are all things you can do to communicate through the process that the 360-feedback program is being administered for the purpose and effectiveness of individual development.

The Effectiveness of 360-Degree Feedback on Individual Development

Bottom line: If you say the 360 is being run purely for individual development, do not do anything that would cause somebody to doubt that purpose.

360-Degree Feedback for Remediation

Using 360s for remedial or disciplinary reasons is also a common use of the tool but is fraught with pitfalls. It can, however, be done in an effective way. The correct communication and process are vital here too. 360s should not be used to take the place of a difficult conversation that a manager does not want to have; they should be used to facilitate and enhance that difficult conversation.

If you are faced with providing difficult feedback to an underperformer and you think the 360 will allow you to avoid this conversation, save yourself the time and cost associated with a 360 and just give them the feedback.  Give them the respect they deserve.  Tell them the truth.  Also, if an employee no longer offers much value to the organization, a 360 is probably not going to help the employee to the point that they will become a valuable contributor. Remedial 360s should be used for valuable members of the organization who have an isolated behavioral flaw, which has been communicated to them and is still standing in the way of their professional progress or success.

A Team Thrives Through The Effectiveness of 360-Degree Feedback

I recently worked with an individual in this very situation. She was a valuable leader in her organization. In fact, her manager told me that she is indispensable to the organization, but she has the tendency to damage relationships during stressful situations at work. Going into the process, she had already received this feedback from her manager. The feedback she received in the 360 then confirmed from several other sources that her volatility was damaging relationships. When the 360 was administered in this light, she never doubted her value to the organization. In fact, she was happy that her organization believed in her enough that they were willing to invest in her development despite her flaws.

Even in cases where you run a flawless process, using 360s for remedial purposes may cause people to become leery of 360s in general. For this reason, I would advise an organization to not use 360s only for remedial purposes. The effectiveness of 360-degree feedback with regards to remedial usage is most powerful when you have an existing 360 program geared toward development, and you occasionally deploy them for underperformers.

360-Degree Feedback to Evaluate Performance

Some organizations use 360-degree feedback to either augment their performance review processes or as their main evaluative system. Many performance reviews are very top-down. Managers write the reviews from their own perspectives. In some cases, performance reviews are co-created between the manager and the direct report. Adding additional perspectives through a 360 that is tied to an annual performance review can inform the annual rating and help with goal making for the next year.

As with all 360s, the effectiveness of 360-degree feedback for performance pertains to having an element of personal development. The reality is most employees will see these more as an input to the review process than a development tool. They should be run differently than a typical 360. If 360 is part of your review process, then everybody in the company will be going through a 360 at the same time. This means that a given manager in the organization will have to fill out their own 360 review, the review of each direct report, the review of each peer, and the review of their manager.

Important Considerations for a 360 Program

The number of reviews for one person to complete can really add up. It’s best to keep these assessments relatively small. The assessment should not test on a laundry list of “nice to have” competencies. The questions on the assessment should point to specific, essential, observable behaviors related to performance. Keep in mind that scores on 360s for performance tend to be higher, as raters tend to grade easier when they believe the assessment may be tied to someone’s compensation.

A Leader Ponders The Effectiveness of 360-Degree Feedback

Like with other uses of 360s, the purpose of performance-based 360s should be clearly communicated. Who will see the evaluation? How will it be used in performance reviews? How are individuals expected to use the feedback?

360-Degree Feedback for Organizational Development

A 360-Degree feedback program designed for organizational development means accessing larger organizational insights. There are benefits from the process that you can recognize when people go through it individually.  An organization-wide 360 program can be a powerful tool in setting expectations for leaders about how they should lead and what competencies they should develop and nurture. Succession planning, development of training programs, aligning leadership behaviors with organizational values, and creating leadership consistency across the organization can all be benefits of a program designed for organizational development.

Roll Out Your Program in Groups

Many organizations will roll out a program like this in cohorts. Groups of managers or individual contributors in similar roles in the same department or from across the company will go through the 360 process together. The purpose of the program is communicated to them as a group. The results of each group are aggregated and analyzed. Cohorts can learn and grow together.

Ponting Out The Effectiveness of 360-Degree Feedback

Whatever organizational benefits you hope to gain from the effectiveness of a 360-Degree Feedback program, be transparent. There is a lot to gain organizationally from a well-run 360 program, but at the core of all these organizational goals are individuals going through a feedback process. Be open with them about how you will be using the information gathered through the program. Administer the process in a way that allows people to see how their results are used.


While this article outlines four common uses of 360-degree feedback, there are potentially other purposes for 360-degree feedback in your organization. In any context, however, having a clear understanding of what you are hoping to gain from your 360 program will help you maximize its effectiveness. You can reduce much of the mystery and anxiety around 360s by having transparent communication and a thoughtful process for administering 360s that reinforces the communicated purpose.

View our webinar: “How to Build an Effective 360 Feedback Assessment”.