What to Ask Before Starting a 360 Feedback
A well-planned 360 degree feedback process can provide powerful insight and motivation for your company’s developing leaders. The difference between a successful 360 process and an unsuccessful one typically has more to do with planning than the process itself. With this in mind, review the top six 360 feedback questions you should answer before embarking on your next one.
1. Why are you doing it?
There are ongoing debates about whether 360 degree feedbacks should be used for development or performance. While that is a topic for another blog post, the most important things are to:
- Know the purpose for giving the 360 degree feedback
- Clearly communicate the purpose to all participants
The transparency of your process is directly tied to its success.
2. What will you measure?
The infinite number of blog posts titled “What is Leadership?” provide ample evidence that leadership can be a challenge to both define and measure. The good news is that companies like SIGMA have done the “heavy lifting” for you! We researched and developed comprehensive leadership models, and created 360 degree assessments that measure leadership skills and leader character. Check them both out below, and contact us if you’d like more information.
3. Who will select the raters?
Regardless of the goals of your 360 feedback process, involving participants in the process will pay dividends. The most obvious way to do this is to involve them in selecting raters. They can be completely responsible for rater selection, or you can enlist a process where their immediate supervisor provides input on raters and/or approves the rater list.
This approach obviously helps with employee buy-in, as well as providing a kick-start to supervisor/employee development discussions.
4. What will be done with the results/post-feedback of the 360 degree feedback?
The most common breakdown with 360 feedback process comes near the end of the process. Even when you do everything properly up-front, little attention is spent on what to do with the results.
Ensure that you have a formalized plan for the results/post-feedback before doing anything else. Options for post-feedback can include a group debrief, reviewing results with a supervisor, or one-on-one coaching. All options should result in a complete development plan based on the data you collect in the 360 process.
5. How long should a 360 Degree Feedback process take?
Different variables can have an effect on the length of time your process takes. However, here are some general guidelines for a few major steps:
- Initial communication (2-4 weeks). The 2-4 week timeframe is a recommended between the communication and the start of the process, in order to allow time for questions, etc.
- Raters selected/approved ( 1-2 weeks). A full week is typically enough time for participants to select their raters and have them approved or amended by their supervisor.
- Links sent and feedback completed (2-3 weeks). Allow two weeks for raters to complete 360 feedback ratings, but no more than three weeks. If there are raters (typically supervisors) that have a significant number of people to rate, consider a staggered approach to completing the process.
- Reports generated (immediate). This should be an immediate process if you are completing ratings online using a 360 degree feedback vendor. If you are completing the process manually, stop what you are doing and find a vendor!
- Reports distributed (immediate). Most online 360 degree feedback providers can automate this process. However, we recommend scheduling the report distribution around post-feedback activities. Specifically, we would recommend distributing the reports no more than five days before a scheduled debrief session.
6. How should the process be communicated?
It is no surprise that communication (or lack thereof) with participants before, during, and after your 360 degree feedback process is critical for success.
However, what you communicate is significantly more important than how it is communicated. Keep process transparency in the forefront as you clearly communicate:
- What you will do to ensure the confidentiality of all participants
- Why you are implementing a 360 degree feedback process
- What you will measure
- Who has input in selecting raters
- What you will do with results
- The project schedule
How SIGMA can help
Download our EGuide, The Science of 360-Degree Feedback Systems for more information about the science behind 360s.