The purpose of 360 degree feedback has proved itself to be a reliable tool to help develop the leadership and management capability of this country’s larger organisations – it’s used by about 80 per cent of them.
But up until now, its take-up in small to mid-tier enterprises has been pretty sporadic. We’re not sure why this is – maybe leadership and management development just isn’t valued as highly in these sectors? Perhaps leaders and managers in these smaller businesses are just too busy working ‘in’ their businesses rather than on them? Or could it simply be that the concept of 360 and its benefits are not clearly understood?
So what is 360 degree feedback? It’s a questionnaire that goes out to individual leaders and managers for their self-assessment, plus a handful of colleagues that they invite to complete the same questionnaire anonymously. In other words, it’s a comparison between how they see themselves versus how their colleagues see them. It’s based on the premise that “How you see yourself as a leader or as a manager is all very well, but it’s kind of academic. Because it’s how others see you, the people that work around you, that will determine the results you get at work.”
Some of you may be thinking that this will only reveal bad news, but actually, by following a few proven steps to ensure that a 360 implementation is successful, it can often reveal hidden strengths and strengths that you just took for granted. In addition, there will be one or two things that you’ll want to make different following your feedback and that is why 360 – done correctly - can lead to long-term sustainable and meaningful change inside your organisation.
That’s our specialism here at click-360. But this short vlog is not about the process, this is purely about purpose of 360 degree feedback. Why would you want to do a 360?
Firstly because you are a leader or a manager who recognises the power of feedback that will improve your ability to lead or manage people better. You recognise that we are all work in progress, that every day is a school day. In other words, you are up for growing and developing. The word in your heart is ‘YES’. You’re excited by the opportunity, and particularly looking forward to the one on one coaching that supports the 360. You might be part of a cohort that is participating in a leadership or management development programme, or you may simply be an individual who is hungry and ambitious.
The second reason why you might want to implement 360 is to support your performance management process. Up until now you may have managed performance through the traditional performance appraisal method – the annual discussion between manager and subordinate – and you believe the 360 feedback will help to inform that process. Well…yes it will…to some extent. Let me explain something that might be blindingly obvious, I don’t know? Let’s imagine that you’re a peer to me at work and we’ve both been asked to give each other feedback through this 360 process. We’re each of us going to get a 360 report. Because the outcome is attached to the annual appraisal, how honest are we each going to be in our feedback? If we both know that the appraisal result could affect salary, or bonus, or even our career progression, how meaningful will that feedback be? How truthful will each of us be? Go figure! Now, that said, there are circumstances where this application of 360 in this area can still be effective and there a number of measures we can show you to minimise the risks of GI-GO - ‘garbage in – garbage out’ – but it would not be our recommendation for the start of your 360 journey.
The third reason is because other people think this will be good for you. There are apparent issues with your behaviour as a leader or as a manager and the 360 process will flush them out for you. Oh dear! You don’t need me to tell you that this implementation is likely to fail. In fact 360 degree feedback is exactly the wrong sort of intervention to make the necessary difference in this situation. If the word in your heart is ‘NO’, someone needs to man up to the reality that there needs to be a difficult conversation between someone properly trained in the behavioural psychology area and the individual who’s not performing. We can help with that too, but wouldn’t recommend 360 in this situation.
So, all in all, when it comes down to it there’s only really one clear indication for implementing 360 – especially for the first time – and that’s for an individual or a group of individuals who are up for development.
Other vlogs in this series will explore the factors that need to be in place organisationally for 360 to thrive. Until then, if you want to know more, please contact us using the number on screen or by email.
We encourage you to leave a comment below. Maybe you disagree about the purpose of 360 degree feedback, your experience is different? We’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for watching.