By Christian Nielson – Chief Strategy Officer at DecisionWise, 10+ years consulting experience
360 degree feedback has been around for a long time. Performance appraisal through capturing and combining the perceptions of others to help an individual build self-awareness is a time-tested approach, and one that many HR professionals and business leaders have experienced for themselves. While many people have had exposure to the power of multi-rater (360) feedback, at DecisionWise we’ve learned that some HR professionals still have a narrow view of how should 360 degree feedback be used to improve their organization’s performance. To help with this, we’ve compiled a list of twelve ways to leverage 360 feedback in your organization. The list is not exhaustive, but it includes some great ideas you may not have considered.
Getting Started with 360s
If your organization has not yet taken advantage of the power of a 360 degree feedback tool, there are many wonderful ways to get started. With a little understanding of the process and the right approach, the following six strategies can be employed in any organization.
1 – Developing Senior Leaders – Investing in senior leadership development is likely the most common use of 360 feedback. Executives often welcome the opportunity to better understand how their leadership approach is impacting others, and where they have room to make strategic adjustments.
2 – Team Building – Leveraging 360 degree feedback to strengthen an intact team can build trust and improve cross-functional collaboration. This approach is especially productive for senior-level teams or any team where each member also has their own span of control.
3 – Enhancing L&D Programs – Adding a feedback report to an existing L&D program enhances the learning experience for participants by giving them some personalized data to complement what they’re being taught in the classroom.
4 – Supporting Low Performers – Sometimes an under-performing leader needs some additional support and attention. 360 degree feedback (especially when accompanied by a one-on-one debrief) can help provide the actionable feedback and momentum they need to turn things around.
5 – Investing in High-Potentials – Many organizations identify their high-potential talent, but then struggle to know how to best support HiPo development. 360 feedback can be a great investment in the future of your most promising workforce.
6 – Developing New Leaders – One of the hardest transitions for an employee is from an individual contributor to a first-time manager. New skills are required and a new understanding of how their actions and words can impact another employee’s performance. 360 degree feedback can help new leaders adjust to their new role and the influence they have on others.
Going Further with Feedback
The six strategies below are great for organizations that are already familiar with the 360 degree feedback process and want to leverage it further.
7 – Follow-up to an Engagement Survey – A company-wide engagement survey often reveals several teams that are struggling with their employee experience. Taking the leaders of those struggling teams through a multi rater feedback experience is a great way to drive behavior change and improve employee engagement and overall employee performance.
8 – Reinforcing Leadership Competencies & Company Values – If your organization has a defined set of company values and/or a leadership competency model, you should consider creating a custom 360 assessment. We have a robust competency library and assessment experts to help you create something tailored for your org.
9 – Succession Planning – Replacing a senior leader is a challenging. A 360 review can help you vet the landscape of internal candidates. When done early (a year or more before the leader departs), 360 degree feedback can help an organization cultivate potential successors with the critical skills needed to fill the role.
10 – Self-Driven Development – Many organizations are seeking to add new resources for self (or manager) driven development. Adding 360 feedback to your menu of self (or manager) initiated L&D options is a great way to enable employee development by having each employee take ownership of their performance and personal development plan.
11 – Reinforcing Strategy – Does your organization’s strategy require new leadership behaviors? For example, Innovation/Creativity, or perhaps something as specific as Systems Thinking. 360 feedback can help support and align the specific behaviors needed for executing your company’s strategy.
12 – Working with a Board of Directors – Often a board of directors struggles to find an appropriate feedback tool for the CEO. A board may also be looking to better understand the perceptions of those around the CEO. The 360 feedback process is flexible around board members’ busy schedules, and it opens a powerful channel for communication, understanding, and honest feedback.
Get Started/Do More with 360s
When done right 360 feedback is a powerful tool to review and improve the employee experience. Whether you are just getting started with 360 feedback or looking to leverage 360s more effectively in your organization, consider expanding your performance evaluation process with the twelve suggestions above.