How to Determine What Must be Communicated to Different Stakeholders of 360-Degree Feedback

July 20, 2016 by Sandra Mashihi

“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.” -Jane Austen

When implementing a 360-degree feedback tool, stakeholders often have a number of questions about the following issues:

  • Purpose of the 360-degree feedback intervention
  • Deadline dates to collect data
  • Confidentiality
  • Who will receive the feedback report
  • Whom to contact for technical and administrative questions

It is important to clearly communicate these questions to all stakeholders involved in a 360-degree feedback process. The challenge lies behind what to communicate to whom in order to ensure a clear understanding of the process. What a manager needs to know may be different than what some of the raters should know. The following are all the different types of information different stakeholders need to know:

  1. Participants: If possible, discuss questions that they might have about the assessment and what raters they might want to invite for feedback.
  2. Managers of the participants should be contacted about their role and responsibilities and about whether they will receive a copy of the feedback report or not.
  3. Raters should be informed about what type of feedback is being sought by participants, with assurances about anonymity and the volunteer nature of their participation.  If possible, it would be desirable to model the type of open-ended comments that are desirable (behaviorally-based, specific, non-evaluative) for the raters and to encourage raters to use the “Not Applicable” or “Not Observable” rating if they truly do not have enough information to accurately provide feedback to the participant.

Coach’s Critique:

Often times, the maximum positive outcome of the 360-degree feedback process have been limited because of the lack of clarity that different stakeholders have about the system and process. Either stakeholders have not been well informed of the purpose of the tool, or they have misunderstood their role in the process.

For example, a manager that is not clear that the purpose of the 360 is for developmental opportunities rather than appraisal, promotion, and demotion decisions, may utilize the test inappropriately which can result in resentment on the part of the participant, and inaccuracy of ratings on the part of the raters. As another example, if raters are not made clear about the boundaries of confidentiality, they may fake results in order to either achieve a motive for or  against the participant, or they may not be as honest because of the fear that their results would be disclosed. Furthermore, a participant that is not made clear about their role in selecting raters, confidentiality, the development purpose of the system may not be completely “bought in”, which can diminish the value of their development process.

Therefore, coaches, consultants, HR representatives, and implementers of 360-degree feedback systems should ensure the clarity of all aspects of the system in order to minimize confusion and increase optimal results.

What do you see as the different types of information the various 360-degree stakeholders that should be communicated to them?

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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  • Hi Sandra, again another very good 360 Degree Feedback blog – we always try and cover the following off with participants

    • how 360 report will be used, the context and fit to the organisation and their development
    • the process; what will be required of them, what they will get back
    • principles for selecting feedback respondents and identify who they should invite

  • Hi Sandra, a very useful reminder about the often-overlooked part of a 360 feedback implementation process. Thanks.

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