So, your team has now received their 360 degree feedback. Our research shows that one third will be fairly surprised by their results. Another third will find the feedback to be exactly what they expected. The final third falls somewhere in between– a few surprises, but a lot of what they expected. However, many find that 360 degree feedback provides as many questions as it does answers. The real value of 360 degree feedback comes not specifically in the data itself, but in what occurs as a result of that data. Much of this depends on those critical discussions that ensue as a result of the feedback.
So, the question often comes up, “How do I talk to people about my feedback?” One of the real values of 360 degree feedback is that it surfaces those “undiscussables.” It is a safe way to have conversations that may not normally take place.
These conversations can take place in one-on-one settings, or with an entire group. Either way, we recommend the following 4 steps in guiding conversations about your 360 degree feedback:
- Thank them for them for the feedback. Express sincere appreciation to your raters for their candor and willingness to give you feedback. Doing so will help create a safe environment for future feedback. “Thank you for the feedback. It has been very valuable for me, and I appreciate your candor in helping me improve. Thank you!”
- Acknowledge what’s working. This step is often left out. However, it’s important to let people know that you recognize from their feedback that there are things that are working, and that you intend to continue focusing on these strengths. When this step is ignored, those providing feedback may get the impression that you only heard the “negative” or re-directing feedback. “I was glad to see that I had my highest scores in the areas of __________. I’ve been working on these, and it’s good to see it has paid off. I plan on continuing to focus on these.”
- Acknowledge what’s not working. Let them know you understand that there are areas that were identified that need improvement. Show appreciation for their willingness to share these with you, and let them know your plan for addressing these areas for improvement. “There were also some areas that stood out in terms of needing to improve. Common themes were _______ .” I know I need to focus on these areas, so I want to run some ideas by you a little later.”
- Ask for help. There may be parts of your feedback that you do not fully understand. Ask for clarification– help in understanding what you need to focus on. This is also a good time to ask them to help you improve on these areas. “There are a couple of areas where I have some questions, and I hope you can help me determine what I should make of these. For example __________… I also need some help on __________. It’s never been a strength for me, and I’m often not aware I’m even doing it. So, I’m asking for your help. When you notice _______, could you please catch me afterwards and let me know? Sometimes, that’s the only way I’ll realize what has happened.”