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Maximize the Impact of Your 360-Degree Feedback Process

Four important steps in successfully debriefing a 360-Degree Feedback review
Articles » Maximize the Impact of Your 360-Degree Feedback Process

The primary purpose of a 360-degree feedback review is to help employees better understand their strengths and developmental opportunities. The review process is greatly enhanced by engaging the employee in a conversation about their results immediately following the review. The following steps can help the debriefing manager maximize the effectiveness of the 360-degree feedback process for their employees.

Step 1: Embracing Your Role in the Debriefing Process

Step 2: Scheduling the Debriefing Meeting

Step 3: Preparing for the Debriefing Meeting

Step 4: Facilitating the Debriefing Meeting

Step 1: Embracing Your Role in the Debriefing Process
Managers play a critical role in the 360-degree feedback debriefing process. Although employees can do this independently by reading the report, the experience is more enriching and impactful when facilitated by a manager or coach. As the facilitator of a feedback debriefing session, your role is to:

  • Assist the employee in processing and understanding their feedback.
  • Identify themes in the ratings and comments received from raters.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate the areas where the employee is adding the most value to the organization and team members.
  • Listen to the employee's concerns about ratings or written feedback that they disagree with.
  • Help the employee move beyond resistance and defensive reactions so that they can benefit from the feedback.
  • Prioritize behavioral areas for development.

Step 2: Scheduling the Debriefing Meeting
The results of a 360-degree feedback review represent observations made at a particular point in time. Once ratings are received, it is important to schedule a meeting with the employee in a timely fashion so that the feedback is as relevant as possible. If the report is more than six months old, or the employee has experienced a change in position since a review was conducted, consider updating their report with new feedback first.

Schedule enough time to discuss the feedback report and begin to frame an action plan. Sixty to ninety minutes is ideal. If possible, schedule the meeting face to face in a private, neutral location such as a conference room. If facilitating the meeting remotely, include a video feature so that you can see each other during the discussion to assess any non-verbal ques.

Step 3: Preparing for the Debriefing Meeting
Thoroughly read the employee's feedback report before facilitating the discussion. In analyzing the report, seek to:

  • Identify three to five key strengths and three development areas from the ratings or written comments.
  • Identify any outlier data or conflicting feedback (e.g., a high rating on a behavior/competency but negative open-ended comments relating to that behavior/competency)
  • Summarize the feedback to the employee in your own words. Highlight written feedback from raters that is particularly informative.
  • If using the EchoSpan Development Planning Module , create a draft development plan for the employee to review during the meeting.

Take some time to consider how you think the employee may react to the feedback. Consider not just the feedback but what you know about how this employee typically handles feedback. Will the employee be receptive to the feedback or push back?

Provide the 360-degree feedback report to the employee a day prior to the meeting so that they can review and process the information in preparation for the meeting.

Step 4: Facilitating the Debriefing Meeting
Facilitate the meeting with an open and curious mindset. Ask the employee their reactions to the feedback. What resonates with them? What surprised them? Listen intently and express empathy for what they may be feeling or experiencing. Starting with strengths, ask them to summarize the underlying themes. Then move on to areas for improvement. These may or may not line up with your pre-identified strengths and developmental opportunities.

Review written comments in the report together. Written feedback contains telling observations on behaviors. Ask the employee to discuss specific examples where praise or criticism has been documented. If an employee states that they know who said what, emphasize the importance of focusing on the behaviors that may have generated the feelings that the rater experienced rather than the identity of the rater.

Other meeting tips:

  • Avoid distractions during the meeting. Turn off your phone and shut down your computer. Show the employee you are invested in the process of their learning and development.
  • Ask questions and actively listen. Let the employee voice their thoughts and considerations before voicing yours.
  • Due to the brain's negativity bias, an employee may hone in on one critical comment or rating. If this happens, help the employee reframe the feedback holistically, focusing on general themes.

You can maximize the success of the 360-degree feedback process by embracing your role, effectively scheduling, preparing for and facilitating the interaction. This will allow you and the employee to align on strengths and areas for improvement. In addition, this purposeful discussion will build a foundation of trust and collaboration setting the stage for results driven development planning and follow-up.


Last updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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