By Patricia Dammann
360 Degree Feedback is a system or process in which employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them. This typically includes the employee’s manager, peers, and direct reports along with people outside the organization, such as customers. The benefit of collecting this type of data is that the person gets to see a panorama of perceptions rather than just self-perception or the perception of the supervisor. This affords a more complete picture.
A mixture of about eight to twelve people fill out an anonymous online feedback form that asks questions covering a broad range of workplace competencies. The feedback forms include questions that are measured on a rating scale and asks raters to provide written comments. The person receiving feedback also fills out a self-rating survey that includes the same survey questions that the others received in their forms.
Managers and leaders within organizations use 360° feedback surveys to get a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. The 360° feedback system automatically tabulates the results and presents them in a format that helps the feedback recipient create a development plan. Individual responses are always combined with responses from other people in the same rater category (e.g. peer, direct report) in order to preserve anonymity and to give the employee a clear picture of his/her greatest overall strengths and weaknesses.
Tips for Designing Your Own 360° Processes and Tools
- Only cover job-related Do not cover too much. This will confuse raters when they have to rate someone on aspects of performance they haven’t seen.
- The items should be clear, behavioral, and objective. As with organizational surveys, they should be about only one thing at a time.
- The employee or designated “rater selector” should invite raters who know his/her performance well.
- Raters should be trained in how to rate.
- The rules of anonymity should be very clear to raters. As a general rule, anonymous ratings are likely to be more accurate.
- It should be clear who will see the ratings and how they will be used. Ratings will likely be more accurate if raters know that only the employee will see the ratings, and if the data is used for developmental purposes and not performance review.
- The employee being rated should be trained in how to review the reports, what emotions to expect, and how to create action plans as a result.
- Ideally, build in mechanisms to assist the person in putting the knowledge to best use. Encourage the person to get more information. Provide coaches to help him/her identify improvement needs and create action plans.
- Ensure that management or appropriate coaches follow up with the person to reinforce the importance of working the development plan.
A well run 360 Feedback process can produce enormous benefits for your organization and the employees taking part in this process.
Patricia Dammann is the VP Programs & Operations and Faculty member at the Institute of OD, offering online certification programs for those interested in Organization Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching, and OD Advanced Skills courses for ongoing learning. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about our certification programs and short courses, visit our website www.instituteod.com