If you’re running a leadership or talent development program, how do you know what questions for 360 Degree Feedback you should use?
Off-the-shelf or tailored questions for 360 Degree Feedback?
There are many off-the-shelf 360 packages out there; these are great and ideal for supporting individual leaders’ career development.
But what if you’re planning a strategic talent or leadership program, or a change program, where you want to bring consistent behaviors across the whole organization. In this case, the 360 Degree Feedback should be closely aligned to the specific changes you want to see. By doing this:
- You will be able to define the skills and behaviors you want to see very clearly – the more specific the better
- Respondents will have very clear criteria on which to base their observations and their responses
- You will be able to link the feedback results to your program objectives, therefore providing data for evaluation of the program
How do you create your questions for 360 Degree Feedback?
You can use your organisation’s job specs, performance measures, competency or values frameworks to help you break down the skills into categories or skill-sets. Each skill-set should include 4-6 specific skills, which are then rated by the respondents, and the ratee themselves.
To write your tailored questions for 360 Degree Feedback, remember to:
- Only describe on behavior or action at a time. So, don’t say say ‘ Asks for feedback and responds positively to feedback’ (these are two things!). Instead, make it two separate questions, ‘Asks for feedback’ and ‘Responds positively to feedback’. This makes it easier to understand and provide feedback on.
- Keep to specific actions and behaviors that the respondents can see and rate. This means avoiding big concepts like ‘Is a great leader’ or ‘Communicates effectively’, as these could have many components. Instead break down ‘Is a great leader’ into what specifically a great leader in your organization does; it could include ‘Sets a clear strategy for achieving the organization’s goals’, ‘Adapts leadership style for different situations’ etc.
- Avoid concepts and theoretical statements like ‘Is an introvert’, or ‘Lacks confidence’. Everyone’s idea of introversion or confidence is different, and anyway, how can you know what someone is thinking or feeling? That is why actions and behaviors that you can see make the most effective questions for 360 Degree Feedback.
The rating scale you choose will depend on the purpose of the 360 feedback. If the 360 is focused on development, you can use a 5-point rating scale that rates by level of development. We recommend a 5 or 6 point rating scale that focuses on frequency of behavior, i.e. how often have you seen [colleague] doing this. It’s a useful scale as it’s less judgmental. Alos the reviewee can easily understand its meaning when related to the question you are asking.
Written feedback by skill-set
You can also provide space for written feedback on each skill-set. This gives the respondent an opportunity to give feedback in their own words. But they can still focus on the skill-set. This will help the reviewee, to categorize the feedback correctly and see it as part of the overall development piece.
General written feedback
Another useful question type the ‘Start-Stop-Continue’ model. It’s a simple ‘What one thing would you like [colleague] to start doing in order to become a better leader’, then ‘What one thing would you like [colleague] to stop doing’, and ‘What one thing would you like [colleague] to continue doing.
We love this particular written-feedback model because the respondent needs to think about some specific examples and ideas, which are more useful to the reviewee than general comments. It also
ensures that they provide positive feedback through the ‘Continue doing’ question, and that they offer suggestions for development through the ‘Start doing’ question.
Delivering your 360
Once you have written your 360 Degree Feedback questionnaire, you will need to deliver it online to your reviewees, to complete their self-reviews. You will also need to deliver to respondents who will provide feedback. The online platform you use should be flexible enough to allow you to set both ratings questions and written-feedback questions.
You should also be able to tailor the rating scale to suit your questions, e.g. a frequency scale development or effectiveness scale, and the number of rating scale points you want to use. The scale you use will depend on the type of programme you are running and the questions you ask.
The platform should also offer customizable reporting roles, as most organizations have their own names for each role. For example, in one organization, the role of line manager might be called ‘Team leader’, ‘Supervisor’ or ‘Boss’. The closer you can align these to your organization, the better employees will engage with the process.
Use these simple guidelines to build a 360 questionnaire that aligns to your talent or leadership program.