The Thrive! Blog...

April 8, 2011360 Degree Feedback: A Process That Works

Different organizations will have a different approach to making 360-degree feedback work inside their organizations. However, there are a few critical steps that significantly contribute to overall success:

Step 1: Understand what’s important about your leaders’ performance as leaders.

Step 2: Build the survey. The questions you ask must reflect what’s critical about the leaders’ performance as leaders.

Step 3: Figure out who you want to collect feedback for. In some cases, it maybe appropriate to start at the top and cascade the survey process down through the organization over a series of iterations. In other organizations, it may be better to involve all leaders right from the beginning. (We don’t think it’s ever agood idea to start at lower levels of the organization and work it up or to ignore the higher levels of the organization completely.)

Step 4: Figure out who you want to collect feedback from. Direct reports must obviously be included. In many cases, you’ll want to collect feedback from theparticipants’ peers and manager. (Though you want to keep the responses separate.) Some organizations have also found it valuable to include feedback form those outside the company – customers, suppliers or key business partners.

Step 5: Decide who gets to see the data and in what sequence. The person receiving the feedback obviously needs to be the first person to see his/her data.We strongly believe the people providing the feedback should see the data.Ultimately, we think the leader should also share the feedback with his/her manager. (However, some organizations find it effective to not share the data with the leader’s manager during the first time through the process.)- 2 -lead. learn. change. thrive.

Step 6: Actively manage the process after the feedback is collected. The best practices we’ve observed include:

  • The leader reviews his/her feedback and identifies strengths and weaknesses.
  • The leader shares his/her feedback with the people who provided the data(the direct reports are the most important group). During this meeting, the leader can collect more feedback (“Are there any other issues I should be sensitive to?”), work with the group to agree on priorities and map out a plan for improvement.
  • The leader meets with his/her manager to review the data, review the outcomes of the meeting with the survey respondents, make appropriate changes to the plan and agree on any developmental help the leader needs.

Step 7: Conduct mid-course correction meetings. About halfway through the 360-degree feedback cycle is a great time for the leader to follow-up with the group.The primary outcomes from the process should be:

  • Getting feedback about whether the leader has lived up to the initial action plans.
  • Identifying any new developmental opportunities.\
  • Understanding if anything has changed about the priorities.

Step 8: Repeat the whole process. To create the best opportunity for success,the survey needs to stay as consistent as possible over several iterations. However, some of the leadership issues facing the organization will undoubtedly change over time. So, the survey process must allow for some level of flexibility while maintaining consistency