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Adding the fairness factor to 360 Degree Feedback

A recent piece of research from McKinsey* highlights how the perception of fairness is such an important element in the success of employee performance management.

This matches our experience over many years with 360 Degree Feedback assessment. Unless people in an organisation feel that 360 is intrinsically fair, and operates transparently and equally for everyone, they will engage reluctantly with it – or not at all.

How do you add the fairness factor to 360?

Match the individual feedback to company goals

For 360 Degree Feedback, it’s important to link the feedback that the employee is getting, to the organisation’s goals, capabilities and values. This can be achieved by configuring the feedback to the organisation’s objectives, key capabilities and values – and expressing these in the organisation’s language.

Track 360 is a 360 tool that allows easy configuration of 360 degree feedback questions to teams, roles or departments.

Make the process transparent

Building a carefully structured communications plan, for all stakeholder, is something that companies will sometimes avoid or not give enough time to. However, the more you can tell people what feedback will be used for, who will see it and what the process will be – before your start – the more people will trust the 360 and engage with it.

Stakeholders in 360 are a wide group: these are not the people getting feedback, but also people giving feedback, line managers (what do they need to do), senior management (why it’s important and how they can promote), and even customers.

Support managers to use 360 to provide regular coaching feedback

Managers are the critical ingredient in building confidence around feedback. Managers need to nudge, encourage and make sure feedback conversations are taking place in their teams.

Managers are not always very skilled at this, so training in using 360 effectively will make a big difference: how to work through the feedback, clarify the key messages and give them context, help the employee incorporate the positive messages, get an action plan in place, and deal with unexpected criticism.

And who better than the manager to be able to see their team members putting the feedback into action and helping them to improve and develop.

Reward

Rewarding employees and managers who use the 360 process visibly makes a difference to the overall perception of its benefit. Where feedback is regular and talked-about, especially from senior people, it encourages employees to actively look for feedback and gives it value, rather than making it just a box-ticking exercise.

Development or performance?

360 is an effective tool for both development and performance review. If you want to use 360 for both, it you will need to design and communicate each one differently, and create a different process. Track 360 allows you to run different 360s for different purposes, with different groups, at different times of the year.

*McKinsey April 2018: The fairness factor in performance management