Quite often, when leaders receive their 360-degree feedback report they immediately want to see how they scored compared to others. This is natural because we all want to know if our results are better or worse than the average. The question is, which average, if any, is the best one to compare to?
Here are seven comparison points that provide context for 360-degree feedback results:
- Global Benchmark: Shows the average score of every person that has participated in the survey. This option works if you are using a standard survey that has been used by leaders all over the world. If you customized your 360-degree feedback survey based on your organization’s leadership competencies, this option is not available. In that case, you’ll need to use your organization norm.
- Organization Norm: Includes all people that have taken the 360 feedback survey inside the organization. If you are starting with a new customized survey, you will need at least 10 participants to take it to get an accurate norm on the report.
- Previous Score: Compares the individual’s results to his or her results from their previous survey (self-comparison). Best practice is to take a 360 survey once a year to track progress and maintain an open dialogue with others about your leadership performance.
- Job Function Comparison: When using a standard survey from a 360-degree feedback survey vendor, it is possible to show averages by job type (i.e, all healthcare leaders, IT leaders, or HR leaders).
- Top 10 Percent: This can be used as a high-bar comparison point for a group of high-potential leaders in an organization. Variations can include top quartile, top 20 percent, etc.
- Leadership Level: Most times, comparisons by leadership level are accomplished by using 360 feedback surveys tailored to each group. These include versions for individual contributors, team leaders, managers, directors, vice presidents, and executives.
- Geography: Most leaders want to be compared to their peers in the same country or region. This can be important because people in some world regions tend to rate others slightly higher or lower on 360 feedback surveys based on cultural differences.
We recommend using one or two comparison points for your 360-degree feedback surveys. Any more than two can cause confusion. Benchmarks and norms help 360 feedback participants quickly see their strengths and highlight areas that need work. The comparison point you choose largely depends on how relevant it is for each individual participant.