3 Ways to Facilitate Successful Development with 360-Degree Feedback

October 26, 2015 by Sandra Mashihi


“You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.”

-Anthony Robbins


Multi-rater or 360-degree feedback systems that have an action plan linked to them have been shown to be more successful than those that do not. “Best practices” suggest that program participants and their managers should meet to discuss results and to implement a development plan for behavior change (Nowack, 2009)1.

An effective professional development plan should be….

  1. Included as part of the ongoing evaluation system.  When a professional development is included as part of a professional development plan, it ensures that it is monitored and reviewed. (Note that the feedback results should not be used as part of any overall evaluation rating or compensation decisions, only as one part of the developmental planning process). Using 360 feedback results in overall appraisal ratings that lead to personnel decisions like salary increases, promotions and terminations should be used cautiously due to the need to demonstrate job relatedness (legal defensibility).  Additionally, given that correlations between rater groups are modest, organizations using 360 feedback for overall ratings will need to create decision rules for addressing situations where manager ratings are higher or lower than others being asked for input.
  2. Specific about additional training, on-the-job activities, or developmental resources that the talent will focus on. It’s often not enough to know what needs to change or improve. An effective development plan consists of specific and prescriptive goals. In order for individuals to deliberately practice a new set of behaviors, they will need additional resources and training to support and enhance their development.
  3. Written and implemented using a current Web-based goal planning and evaluation system. Finally, it is recommended that the professional action plan to facilitate monitoring and tracking progress by an internal or external coach.


Coach’s Critique: 

In my coaching experience, I have witnessed 360 feedback system that have failed to achieve positive results. One reason is that organizations implement 360s for their employees, yet fail to pursue any kind of action or development plan. This “diagnose and adios” approach does not result in lasting behavioral change! Another reason that 360s fail is that organizations may pursue some kind of development plan, but NOT necessarily in a way that promotes development and lasting change.

We know from Best Practices on 360s, that in order for behavioral change to occur, there needs to be an on-going facilitated discussion on development planning in order to achieve maximum results. It is recommended that coaches and/or managers meet with clients/employees to agree upon a specific action plan. Organizations often don’t have the mean to hire external coaches, and often neglect having their management team facilitate the development of their employees. A 2009 survey2 of over 2,000 employees reveals that 85% of all managers DO believe that coaching is necessary for their employees, while 32% of them reported that it takes too much time and interferes with their job. Furthermore, ONLY 24% of all leaders are rewarded or recognized for coaching their employees. Here is a simple fact…when organizations incorporate coaching talent as part of their management’s job functions, they are more likely to take initiative to do so!

Even when participants are participating in an on-going developmental discussion, there are key ways of ensuring maximum results. First, incorporating 360-degree feedback with a formal performance appraisal increases their likelihood to take their development plan seriously since it becomes part of their job. Furthermore, when implementing a development plan, it is important to support participants to take every step to SUSTAIN their results. So, they would need a specific roadmap of support systems and resources to ensure their deliberate practice. One way of doing this is to provide participants with web-based goal planning system that can provide reminders about goals, track progress, and provide resources for goal achievement.

All in all, I think many of us can agree that people don’t change easily! Becoming aware of what needs to change is only the first step. In order to facilitate some level of lasting behavioral change, an effective action plan needs to be in place!

What are your thoughts on ways to facilitate successful development and behavioral change with 360-degree feedback programs?

  1. Nowack, K. (2009). Leveraging Multirater Feedback to Facilitate Successful Behavioral Change. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 61, 280-297. []
  2. The Coaching Conundrum 2009: Building a coaching culture that drives organizational success. Blessing White Inc. Global Executive Summary []

Dr. Sandra Mashihi is a senior consultant with Envisia Learning, Inc. She has extensive experience in sales training, behavioral assessments and executive coaching. Prior to working at Envisia Learning, Inc., She was an internal Organizational Development Consultant at Marcus & Millichap where she was responsible for initiatives within training & development and recruiting.. Sandra received her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from University of California, Los Angeles and received her Master of Science and Doctorate in Organizational Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology.

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