How Should the 360-Degree Results Be Reviewed With a Client to Optimize Motivation & Action for Behavioral Change?

January 13, 2016 by Sandra Mashihi

“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”
-Shirley Chisholm

“Best practices” in 360-degree feedback processes suggest that the greater transfer of learning and goal setting occurs when a manager or coach helps participants understand and debrief their reports (Nowack, 2009). All too often, vendors and some practitioners espouse the “diagnose and adios” approach to multi-rater feedback, hoping that self-directed insight alone will result in motivated behavioral change efforts.

In one of the few empirical studies recently conducted on the impact of executive coaching, Smither, et al., (2003) reported that after receiving 360-degree feedback, managers who worked with a coach were significantly more likely to set measureable and specific goals and solicit ideas for improvement. They subsequently received improved performance ratings.  Thatch (2002) found that in six weeks of executive coaching following multi-rater feedback, performance increased by 60 percent, and in a much cited study in the public sector, Olivero, Bane, and Kopelman (1997) found that employee feedback and coaching for two-months increased productivity above the effects of a managerial training program (22.4 versus 80.0 percent) for 31 participants.  These coaching studies support the importance of supportive follow-up after feedback is received to facilitate developmental action planning and the practice of targeted behaviors.

Some limited support for other approaches to structured follow-up comes from a recent doctoral dissertation study evaluating the effectiveness of 360-degree feedback interventions in 257 leaders in diverse organizations (Rehbine, 2007).  In this study, over 65 percent of those surveyed expressed a strong interest in utilizing some type of an online follow-up tool to measure progress and facilitate their own individual behavioral change efforts.  Taken together, additional research would appear useful to further investigate the use of such online developmental planning and reminder systems to help translate the awareness from multi-rater feedback into deliberate practice facilitated with internal or external coaches, as well as the participant’s manager.

Coach’s Critique:

A common mistake many 360-degree users make is that they don’t debrief the results of the report with someone that can thoroughly and proactively facilitate it with them, such as a coach or consultant. There are a couple of reasons why this is a big mistake! First, if the information is not properly interpreted, it can result in a lack of motivation to initiative behavioral change. Participants can easily misinterpret results by focusing on specific ratings of each individual, rather than looking for patterns as a whole. A coach or consultant can help look for those patterns so that the important and useful part of the results are emphasized.

The second reason why debriefing is essential is that once 360-degree feedback results have been completed, participants and/or their managers often neglect the initiation to create and implement an action plan for development. They either feel that their awareness of the results are sufficient, or they simply get busy with their work and forget to incorporate and act on their action plan. The benefit of having a coach or consultant debrief the results is that they can help the participant come up with a sound action plan. They can also articulate the importance and consequences of not working on development areas in their 360-degree results.

Do you believe a 360-degree feedback system requires debriefing from a coach or consultant?

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.

Posted in 360 Degree Feedback

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