After many years of struggling with 360° Feedback, a well-respected HR professional and a friend for longtime, once asked me what I thought about 360° feedback. In their Company, the staff call it Slam Feedback. “Is it really predictive of future performance?” She asked.
“Is leadership best assessed with a straight mirror or with a 360° concave mirror?” She wondered. I could imagine how bewildering it is watch one’s image in a concave mirror.
‘Do the lurking variables drag the whole survey into slug match?’ She wanted to know.
My answer to the questions were simple. It depends on how you ask. If you ask the right questions, you get the right answers.
How to make the 360 Degree Feedback effective?
In short, 360° feedback is a highly useful tool for improving the individual and team performances. Provided, of course, that the survey is structured thoughtfully.
One, do not rush the process. Think through the competencies on which the feedback is needed and frame the survey questions smartly. This is what I meant by asking the right questions.
Two, tell the feedback seeker and feedback provider the purpose of the survey. The feedback providers are more likely to respond to the survey request, when they know the importance of what they are asked to do.
Three, keep the survey short. You cannot solve all your problems through one survey. Keep the survey focused on a few key areas such as leadership, communication and team development.
Fourth, remember it is a 360° feedback, not 360°appraisal. The difference is that if the information is primarily received by the feedback seeker, it is considered a feedback – which the individual uses for the improvement of her/his performance. Keep it exactly at that. Do not make it a 360° evaluation where the feedback about you is sent to your boss.
Finally, keep the survey results confidential. Keep your promises to both the feedback seekers and feedback providers.