How to Develop an Effective 360 Degree Feedback Process

Written by Explorance.

In previous posts we discussed what 360 degree feedback is, why it’s important and some reasons why 360 feedback surveys should not be used for performance assessments. While all these are important issues in terms of employee & organizational development, it is equally important that you understand the steps you need to take to develop an effective 360 degree process within your organization to generate the maximum benefit for all involved. With that in mind, here are some tips to get you started.

Ready to develop your 360 degree process?

Before you dive in, there are a myriad of factors you need to consider when developing a 360 feedback process. Below you will find a list of some key steps to get you started on your planning, from establishing the purpose to piloting the process.

  1. Establish purpose

    First off, you need to determine the purpose of your 360 degree feedback process. Why do you want to implement it? What do you expect to get out of the process and results? Does the implementation of the process clearly address a strategic, performance or developmental need? All of these questions need to be answered to establish your purpose and goals. An example of a developmental goal could be for a graphic designer to cross-train with an assigned web developer once a week for a set time in order to improve their overall project management skills.

  2. Determine competencies

    You need to determine what core competencies, values and/or behaviors you want to be evaluated in the 360 degree review. It is best to incorporate organization set competencies and also competencies applicable to the position. There may also be specific leadership competencies you want to evaluate, such as strategic thinking, problem solving, creativity & innovating thinking, change management, accountability & dependability, etc.

  3. Establish management support

    It is crucial that you get management buy-in for the 360 degree feedback process; otherwise it will not work effectively. Key stakeholders and managers should be involved not only in designing the process, but also in implementing it. Management also plays a critical role in communicating the process and gaining buy-in from employees.

  4. Maintain confidentiality

    It is important to ensure confidentiality and make it a top priority in the process. Raters tend to provide the most constructive feedback when they’re assured the data will remain confidential. At the outset, you need to determine what data will remain confidential and what feedback can be given anonymously.

  5. Who should participate

    You need to carefully consider who you want to gather feedback on, such as managers or employees. After that, you need to decide who the best feedback providers are for those participants: managers, peers, subordinates, etc. It is very important to set the expectations for participants and raters at the beginning of the process.

  6. Clear communication

    You cannot have an effective 360 degree feedback process without effective, direct communication. You need to clearly communicate what the 360 process is for, the scope of the review, how the feedback will be gathered and how the results will be used. You need to drill home the fact that the process is being used for development purposes and not to make any participant feel badly about their performance.

  7. Develop a feedback delivery plan

    It is important to determine how you are going to deliver the feedback to participants. Are you going to share the results through a report with each participant? Will results be given in person in a feedback session coached by someone in your organization? After the results are shared, will your organization provide development sessions and opportunities for participants? There are many development opportunities you can provide such as training, coaching, mentoring, workshops, conferences, books, materials, and more.

  8. Develop a pilot process

    If the 360 review process is entirely new to your organization, it’s best to conduct a pilot project. Performing a 360 degree process pilot with a small group will allow you to determine the impact and effectiveness. That way, if you experience any roadblocks or issues you can go back and address them before rolling out the process company-wide.

  9. Choose the right system

    Utilizing an effective online 360 degree feedback system is key to the success of the process. You’ll want to select a system that can gather structured, detailed information and efficiently capture the perceptions of the participants involved (superiors, peers, subordinates, customers). Look for a fully integrated web-based system that can automate the often complex feedback process. In a future post, we’ll discuss in more detail how to select a 360 degree feedback system.

Do you utilize a 360 Degree Feedback Process in your organization? What steps did you take to ensure its effectiveness? We’d like to hear from you!

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