How To Conduct An Awareness Briefing


Speaker: CEO of TLC Online, Colin Newbold.


So, what's the most frustrating aspect of a 360-degree feedback implementation?


It's chasing participants and feedback providers to complete their questionnaires on time - isn't it? Isn't that the bit that drives you mad?


Could this be part of the reason why feedback is often slow coming in? It's sometimes of dubious quality and rarely do you reach 100 % completion by the survey close date.


Well this video is designed to address that; my name is Colin Newbold and I'm the founder of TLC Online. I'm the chief architect behind the click-360 brand and we're on a mission here to improve the quality of leadership and management capability right across the globe. We're not going to rest until the day when employees, wherever they work, get the leaders and managers they deserve.  We've already helped thousands of participants from large organizations, such as Diageo, TATA and Lego but also right down to some small charities and housing associations.


This video is part of a set of video tutorials designed to help buyers of our new SelfDrive software implement their 360 smoothly and efficiently so that they maximize the impact of this great tool.


A solution to this perennial problem of chasing raters has two parts: first - use 360 only with those managers (current or future) who are up for it and those individuals who want to develop in their roles and in their careers. Don't force it on those who are resistant especially those who are doing an okay job but just don't see the value in 360. Second - don't leave the briefing comms to some impersonal email from HR or L&D - or worse still one that comes from the 360 system.


Coach participants about what to expect and how to manage their 360 via an online webinar. Persuade them to personally invite each rater through a face-to-face or telephone conversation. Remember...they're keen to engage with 360 anyway so harness their enthusiasm with a live webinar awareness briefing. I'll show you how this could be done.


Here's an example of an Awareness Briefing agenda. This is one that we ran recently with the Royal Air Force, the RAF in Britain. We started with an interactive session about what was their history with 360, what sort of experience they've had with the 360, what worked well what didn't work so well, what would have made it better etc. If people hadn't experienced it then we spent a little bit of time talking about what it is, where it comes from...the general concept of 360. More importantly the purpose of what it’s being used for. The reason that we always give is for know there really isn't another indication in our belief for 360.


Some people use it for assessment and they have done it successfully, but we think there's are all sorts of complications when you use it for assessment. For us, our main purpose for using 360 is to develop managers and leaders against what is being measured, that's just some words around the questionnaire.  In the case of the RAF it wasn't, it was a standard leadership questionnaire that was off our shelf. Nevertheless, it's worth just explaining where the questionnaire comes from and how it's structured and so on, maybe some examples of the questions.


Then there's a whole piece around confidentiality, what do we mean by confidentiality? It's important for people to understand who sees the report, where does the confidentiality begin and end? For example, take raters who are in a category like direct reports, or peers. Are they going to be anonymous? and so on. You can decide what your rules are but you just need to make sure that they understand that.


One of the dilemmas of 360-degree feedback relates to the written comments that people might write to support and rating that they've given. Most tools (ours especially) has the opportunity for people to write free text and that's where confidentiality can be can be broken. Certainly, it can be weakened by the fact that you want people to write pretty specific observable behaviour or comments things that someone is doing well or saying we're not saying. The problem is the more specific that a person is around the example, the less anonymous they become. It's just one of those contradictions in 360 and you need to manage that. We're going to come on to Rater Invitations in just a second but that's really one of the things that we would encourage you to talk about with raters.


Time table is very important, especially if there's several components to the 360. For example, if participants are nominating their own raters then there should be some time left before they go online and punch those names in for the invitation conversations to take place. Then there's the period allowed for rater nominations and then there's the survey open period. Which we recommend as being about 13 working days, which kind of fits virtually in every scenario, other than someone being on long-term sickness leave.


Then contacting around the outcomes. It’s very important that we talk about what happens after the reports are produced. How do they get shown to the individual participants? Is there going to be feedback coaching? What happens if there are development opportunities coming out of the 360? How are they going to be addressed? Etc. We like to demo the product just briefly on our awareness briefings, we just show some screenshots. Sometimes I'll do a live demo, depends on how the time’s going. Also, I like to demo the report because I think reports are really interesting to people to get a sense of what the end product looks like.


Then we talk about the rater selection process and really the only rule for this is someone that knows you well enough to be able to give a constructive and meaningful data in their feedback. You can usually agree on the groups that need to be involved. Typically, there will be a Manager, they'll be a Peer group, there'll be a Direct Report group and probably another group which we simply call: Other. These are people who don't directly work for an individual, but they work alongside them, and their behaviour impacts this person. It could be someone outside the organization as well, we do encourage the use of inviting customers and even suppliers apart from the organisations to participate in this process.


Then we come to the rater invitation conversations - I'm gonna deal with those separately and then a Q&A at the end, just to make sure everybody's happy and all the concerns have been addressed.


Ok, let's move to what we mean by rater invitation conversations. The three biggest problems you face in getting rater engagement for your 360, is number one: Slow and incomplete take-up. This was our theme at the beginning of this of this video, low quantity of feedback and a poor quality of feedback. Solution? Talk to your raters. Now if you're up for 360, if you're one of those people who genuinely wants to develop and grow your role in your career, then you will be engaged with this process and you won't find this a chore or an imposition. Why? Well by actually inviting each of your raters, you're gonna get a commitment to participate. Mostly, you'll be prepared for someone to say no but most will say yes. You're really get a commitment to think about how they are going to score and you'll get a commitment to write qualitative comments that add depth and clarity. You’ll also get a commitment to complete by the deadline. That's probably most important thing. So, it's really important to have these conversations.


How? Well with Managers you're kind of working very closely with your Manager in most cases so that’ll will be a natural one-to-one conversation. The Peers and Others, they should really be one-to-one conversations. You can do that over the phone, you don't have to be face-to-face and when it comes to Direct Reports we recommend a team meeting. You really want to involve all your Direct Reports, otherwise you know there's this whole inclusive/exclusive atmosphere you create so you really want to invite them all.  You're best having the conversation through a team meeting.


What to say? This is a busy slide so let me go through it slowly, step by step. Start by setting the scene you know the context. You might want to say something like ‘I'm doing this 360 primarily because as the organization is changing, I too want to grow and develop my capabilities as a leader or as a manager. For you, someone that I trust when I work alongside and who's seen me in a variety of work situations, would really appreciate your contribution to my 360’.


You might want to check out their experience, how much do they know about 360 Degree Feedback and respond appropriately.


Explain what 360 is if they've never heard of it, this is number three. Describe the questionnaire that is being used with words like it's ‘bespoked’ to our organisation or it’s not. Or, it’s based on competencies, values or leadership standards. Choose whatever is appropriate for your questionnaire, saying it will hopefully reinforce what I'm doing well and doubtless reveal some gaps that I'll need to address. You could talk about the actual questionnaire interface if you want to but that depends on your provider. We often supply screenshots of the QI and also the report so if you're face to face with someone, you can use a picture of that.


When it comes to the written comments encourage your raters to write specific observable behaviours. The descriptor we use is "something I'm doing or not doing and/or something I'm saying or not saying". Comments written like that give you something to work on so encourage people to write in that way.


Now number five. They’ll doubtless ask you the ‘time’ question.  How long it's going to take? The answer depends obviously on the software you're using but using the sliding scales on click-360 is going to take around 10 to 15 minutes and the same again for the written comments depending on how many examples that they give. Remind them that they can save and exit at any time and return later where they left off.


Number six: The confidentiality question. Now this is best answered with something like "While the scores and the comments are presented back to me anonymously...please don't write anything you don't feel comfortable with, something that perhaps you wouldn't mind sharing with me face to face. Remember when it comes to examples, the more specific you are the less anonymous you become, if that makes sense, so I leave it to you to draw the line.


By the way, if there's something I just did that was exceptionally good or exceptionally bad, be careful not to let that colour your overall judgment; think of what I'm like most of the time.


Number seven: Tell them the outcomes once all the questionnaire results are in. "I get presented with the comprehensive report that shows my strengths as well as my areas for development and depending on who you're talking to, you may feel it's appropriate to add: "I'm hoping to be able  to share the headline of my report with you afterwards if that’s okay? I can then go away and build myself a robust and very focused development plan with actions and timelines."  Just think about this: there's lots of times you're asked to complete a survey, you're asked to input into a survey and that's the last you ever hear of it. You never see the outcome so it's worth sharing the outcome with some of your raters; consider that.


Number 8: They're bouind to ask about the timings. Tell them it’s going to kick off in a few days’ time. Tell them they’ll get an email from the system, inviting them to click on a link that will take them into the questionnaire. There it's all very straightforward, the survey questionnaire interface is pretty intuitive. Tell them although it's open for a couple of weeks, say to them you’d really appreciate it if they could complete it as soon as possible.


Remember to check with them how their capacity is over those weeks. If they really haven't got capacity to do it in the in the time available, then be prepared to drop them from your rater of nominations and choose someone else. On the other hand, beware they're not just opting out, challenge them if you feel that way.


Number 9: Ask for their commitment in whatever way feels right for you. My personal recommendation would be to say: "Are you up for helping me in this way?" In other words, will you do it?


The last step...this is often left out, certainly from any of the emails that are used for briefing.  Say thank you,  And mean it - be sincere - especially with those who you know have a lot of questionnaires to complete. That tends to be your Manager, in fact the higher up someone is, the more likely they have more to complete. I'm talking about a cohort situation, where there a lot of people going through at once, like a leadership development programme. It's a real gift these people are giving so thanking them tends to seal their commitment to you.


That's it. Our flagship brand is click-360 which is a next-gen digital platform for running 360-degree surveys. It's mobile responsive, it's got a funky modern questionnaire interface and click-360 is the only tool with simultaneous rating. This saves time and increases accuracy.


Our digital reports are integrated with interactive workbooks containing space for reflection and action planner and even learning suggestions.


You can check out our QI and our Digital Report via videos on our website at


In addition to providing the click-360 platform, we can also offer to help with questionnaire design, awareness briefings and feedback coaching.


Alternatively, we can train your own people how to do just that.


Contact us at for more information.