How can you use 360 degree feedback best practice to inform and motivate the people in your business?
Here are some guidelines that will get you on track to develop your workforce, empower your employees and bring about a step change in the culture of your organisation.
The work environment has altered dramatically in recent decades, as have the kinds of jobs many people do, the way they work, and even their concept of career. This evolution of the workplace has prompted companies to actively change traditional approaches to performance management. The result of this is that 360 degree feedback has become a critical element for enhancing individual and team performance. To get the best out of this, 360 Degree feedback best practice should be in place.
How has work changed?
Here’s four distinct ways that the work environment has changed:
- Higher Staff Churn
Workplaces face rapid churn as ambitious staff engineer their own career progression.
- Continual Change
Critical decisions around change are being made at every level.
- Increased Requirements
More jobs require a deeper level of expertise and a greater range of soft skills such as independent judgement, emotionally intelligent communication and problem solving.
- Globalised Business
The globalised nature of many enterprises adds further communication challenges and cognitive biases into this heady cocktail.
Traditional processes such as the annual appraisal are time-consuming and often demotivating, leading to organisations looking to adopt continual coaching and 360 degree feedback models. If well run, these can meet the need for more regular, timely review, whilst also being easier to administer.
We’ve used our knowledge and wide experience of real-world performance management scenarios and 360 degree feedback, along with a review of some recent industry research, to recommend key best practices for organisations seeking to drive improved outcomes – including performance improvement, skills development, loyalty and retention – from their 360 degree feedback programmes.
Create the culture for feedback
A good feedback culture is motivational and builds employee satisfaction and loyalty. It can lead to employees becoming more analytical, self-critical and self-regulating, and more engaged – in effect, more aware of their responsibilities and their role within the organisation. But where do you begin with creating the culture within which a 360 degree feedback programme delivers those outcomes?
Our four pillars of good 360 degree feedback culture and 360 Degree feedback best practice are:
If the organisation is serious about continual behavioural improvement, their 360 degree feedback programme should be positioned as part of the organisation’s overall people strategy, an ongoing process, not a one-off gimmick or management ‘fad’. In that way, employees will begin to develop trust in the process, and the output will be more candid and more valuable.
Confidentiality (i.e. anonymised and aggregated feedback) is critical. Together with transparency (i.e. what it’s for and how it will be used), this is the heart of 360 best practice. Clear messages promote an environment which encourages balanced and constructive feedback. Employees will want to give and receive feedback. In addition, they should feel in control of the process, and empowered by it.
Managers and business leaders need to be coached in how to deliver constructive and relevant feedback which supports behavioural improvements. Employees in turn should receive guidance on how to give (and receive) feedback from their colleagues. Not only will this help to avoid the feedback process being a cause of anxiety but it will demonstrate the commitment of the organisation to creating the most productive 360 degree feedback environment.
The traditional annual appraisal approach no longer suits many of today’s more dynamic workplaces. In the faster-moving enterprise culture, feedback opportunities should occur at least quarterly in general terms, but ideally more frequently, following, for example, completion of specific activities, events and projects.
Crowdsource your feedback
To work effectively, feedback should come from every area – the full 360 degrees; from management, from peers and co-workers, and from customers and clients. There must be enough raters for the feedback to be valid and rounded. Apart from direct line management, it should not generally be possible for the employee to deduce which rater said what. Raters should be the people best able to give meaningful observation-based feedback.
Automate the feedback process
Automating the 360 degree feedback process is easier today than ever. Automation frees up both management and employee time and it delivers better quality data, more instantaneously.
Utilise mobile technologies for ‘feedback-on-the-move’. This is particularly useful in scenarios where employees spend less time at desks, for example in retail and certain service industries. It also allows feedback to be generated as it’s needed, not many months afterwards.
Make it relevant to your company and your people
360 degree feedback allows people to give feedback using a structured question set, which are rated, and free text.
A standardised approach to feedback is effective, but research has shown that the more relevant the questions are, the more effective the feedback will be. Relevance to the role and the values helps bring about performance and behaviour changes. Being able to adapt the 360 to speak the language of the organisation is key to engagement.
Best practice delivers results
When 360 Degree feedback best practice is implemented effectively, the benefits can be significant. For example, employees will feel empowered which will lead to deeper engagement. They will also actively enhance and improve their skills and behaviours.
What’s more, the organisation itself gains valuable insight into gaps in skills and behaviours. This can then be applied to target the relevant training and development needed. This results in making talent management programmes more effective.
With 360 best practice, the organisation can support Line managers and team leaders. The feedback provides a tool for developing and managing their teams, with relevant data on individual performances.
Finally, with feedback programmes based on the organisation’s values, goals and objectives, you can identify and nurture employees with potential to grow.
Applying 360 best practice gives a boost to company development and culture. For more information on how to begin using 360 degree development, either drop us a line here or call +44(0)20 8360 4455 and we’ll be happy to share more about our best in class software.
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Jo Ayoubi is an expert consultant in 360 feedback and assessment.