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360 feedback survey! Good or Bad?

What is your real life experience with your 360 feedback survey results?

The concept behind the 360 feedback survey is to have multiple reviewers to eliminates, at least from a theoretical stand point, the possibilities of getting feedback that is positively or negatively bias by one predominant source. In an organizational setting, these 360 feedback are diluting the unilateral supervisory dimension from the outcome of your employee review...or so we are lead to believe!

It's not typical for an organiztion to have a 360 survey for employees, they are usually reserved for the management and executives. The survey would be filled out by:

  1. Your immediate superiors;
  2. One or more of your co-worker;
  3. One or more of your subordinate (if people report to you);
  4. One or more of your internal client;
  5. In some limited situation it could also include some external clients.

Regardless of the role you play in the overall performance review process, these next few paragraph's will give you knowledge to make a difference!

The 360 Feedback Survey Questionnaires

This is where to whole process starts to take form. These questions aren't just random questions. When selected properly they align with the organizational values, values that will help any individual grow towards their fullest potential. Promoting the wrong values will provide the wrong feedback as well as potentially sending you on the wrong path for your leadership growth. The most obvious situation would be omitting an important question from the 360 feedback survey! Consequently, this simple omission could result in you lacking some feedback to could have brought some real value to your personal development.

In addition, improperly designed questionnaires, can and most likely will, have a negative impact on the objective of the employee review using the 360 feedback survey, which as a reminder is to provide you with valuable information to enable your growth.

Hence, this 360 feedback survey questionnaire is pretty important and should not be taken lightly as failure to adequately perform this task will render all subsequent others a waste of time!

The Assessor Selection Process

Yep! Who reviews who? More importantly, who decides who reviews who?

Do your assessors have the opportunity to decline, for legitimate reasons, to perform the assessment? How many assessors should be included and what weight should each have with regards to the overall score? The answers to these questions aren't standard and should be answered based on the situation. The very fact that many are trying to standardize these answers are potentially biasing the process. For example, why would we ask for an internal client to assess your performance, when this particular client has only been your client for a short period of time? Would you get much value? The only certainty at this point, is that you will do a self-review to understand your own perception with regards to your performance.

Additionally, the simple fact that your assessors are anonymous, to you at least is a problem, since some of the feedback you receive might be unclear and you won't be able to get clarification on the particular feedback, at least, not from the direct source of the feedback. However, you will be able to ask someone else for their perspective on the particular feedback. Alright, time to send those blank 360 feedback surveys.

Merging the reviews

Once your selection process is done, and you have received all of your responses, now, comes the time to combine all of the inputs an put them in a value "feedback power pack" for each of the employees. Simple right! Well, not if your concern about getting the best feedback in order to provide you with the knowledge you need to continue your leadership growth.

From my experience, this is the part where many managers don't even realize the negative impact of their actions! Yes, over and over again, I have seen manager summarize comments or even worst deleting contradictory comments. Their logic is that the employee receiving the feedback with be confused and won't understand why it is that in one sentence they are great and in the next one they have room for improvement? Well, because that is two different perspective and perhaps they spend too much time managing upwards and not enough managing down! Hence the value in understanding, at least, which category the feedback is originating from. After all, we do call these performance reviews a 360 feedback!

The Interview

The interview is the fun part, this is where you get to have an honest conversation with your employee. You get the chance to provide some coaching on how he or she could continue their progression toward their professional growth and for some their leadership growth. Are you practising fair leadership in your staff approaisals? As the employee, you get have the opportunity to understand the expectations as well as where, from various perspective, you could provide more value to the organization.

As the presenter of the 360 feedback survey there are a few points to keep in mind:

  1. This is not your review; you are simply presenting it on behalf of everyone involved.
  2. Give your employee time to get familiar with the content of the review, don't make him read the review on the spot and then ask if he or she as any questions!
  3. The emphasis should be on explaining the differences between the self assessment and the 360 feedback survey.
  4. Spend time pointing out the undesirable behaviors, spend even more time providing solution and explaining the benefits of the behavioral change.
  5. The interview isn't the first step of the feedback process, if it is, make sure you have performance feedback follow-ups at the proper interval.
  6. The Interview isn't the last step of the feedback process, follow-up!

As the receiver of the 360 feedback survey there are a few points to keep in mind:

  1. Ensure that you understand the process used to generate the feedback.
  2. Understand the value that the 360 feedback survey could/will bring to your leadership growth.
  3. Take the time to review the content of the 360 feedback survey. Ask your superior for adequate time for you to get familiar with the feedback you are receiving.
  4. Remember that getting feedback expected or not, is an emotional experience, not a driving force to fuel your fustrations and get farther away from reality.
  5. Be humble, each comment is someone's reality, make sure you understand it even if it's not yours!

Share your thoughts

Sharing your thoughts on communication will benefit every leader that are constantly seeking to improve their communication skills. Leaders communicate constantly, thus increasing our communication skills will consequently increase our leadership skills.

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