360-Degree Feedback Preparation Guidelines

Follow these seven simple guidelines to help ensure your company's management gets the most from a 360-degree feedback campaign

Articles » 360-Degree Feedback Preparation Guidelines

In this article, we will cover the necessary steps to ensure a successful 360-degree feedback review campaign. Keep in mind the goal of the review is to end with information that will help your employees be more successful in their roles. Follow these seven steps and you can be assured your review campaign will be successful.

1. Identify company's core competencies

Many business leaders get in a big hurry and look for review content that is already written based upon someone else's theory of what your people need to do to be successful. Resist this shortcut. Build your own review based upon the leadership competencies of your company, or engage us to help. If you have not identified your leadership competencies, do so before beginning the review process. Ask the other leaders in the company what are the 4-5 things your managers must do in order for your company to be successful. After you have spent time interviewing your managers, you will notice that several competencies are being repeated. These are your core leadership competencies.

2. Develop behavioral items for each competency
After you have identified your core competencies, you will need to find a way to measure them. Each competency should have 5-10 observable behaviors that objectively describe each competency. For example: If Communication is a competency, you may have an item "This manager listens to me without interrupting". If you are not able to generate behavioral items for a competency, then it is probably not a good competency. Remember, you are going to ask raters to state how frequently they observe specific behaviors. The total number of items should not exceed 50. People do not like to fill out long reviews and a well constructed review can accomplish its mission in 50 items or less.

3. Have a senior member of management communicate to the entire company that a 360 campaign will begin shortly and why it is being conducted
Once you have determined the feedback you wish to generate, tell the organization what you are doing and why the 360 is being conducted. It should be presented as part of leadership development and not a performance review. 360-degree feedback reviews should not be part of an employee's official file and should not be used in determining employment (the performance review is the document to use in these situations). Raters need to be informed that their responses are anonymous and that their scores will be aggregated and presented to the target as one score (the exception being Supervisors scores). Participation in the review is required and everyone who is invited to participate is expected to do so. It is also beneficial to disclose who will have access to the reports and how the data will be acted upon.

4. Be inclusive. Anyone that manages people should receive a review
We recommend that everyone who has people management responsibility to be included in the 360 campaign. Managers want to know how others' perceive their behavior and usually welcome the opportunity to receive candid feedback. Do not limit the review to your best or worst managers, all managers deserve this feedback despite their performance. If you have a large company, you may chose to review specific levels of managers at one time and spread the process out over the course of the year. Furthermore, if your competencies are different at management levels, the review items should reflect this change.

5. Don't delay in distributing results reports
Once the review is complete, it is important to distribute the reports to the targets as quickly as possible. Every person who has access to the report should receive a copy and review the results. We have found the distributing the review via email as a PDF attachment works best. Historically, reports have been printed and handed out as written reports. It is our experience that electronic reports are preferable because they are easier to distribute and save.

6. Review results with participants
After reports have been distributed, someone should review the report with each target. This person is generally the target's supervisor or a coach who works with the manager. It is imperative that the target study the report and understand the data that is being shared. Once the report has been reviewed, agree upon 2-3 developmental goals for the coming year. The target should make a commitment to develop and state specifically what they will do over the course of the year to improve. The supervisor or coach should follow up with the candidate to ensure the actions were taken.

7. Conduct review again to measure behavioral changes
There are situations when it is beneficial to conduct reviews more frequently than once a year (we recommend conducting 360-degree feedback reviews on an annual basis). Targets who have significant deficiencies in behavior can benefit from more regular feedback. Behavioral changes usually takes place after the person is conscious of the problem and motivated to make changes. Regular feedback of a deficiency can be the motivator that a manager needs to improve his/her behavior. Once a manager understands that they will not be able to ignore the problem any longer, they will either make improvements or deselect themselves from the position.

Last updated: Friday, March 23, 2012
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