How to Ensure Your 360-Degree Feedback Program Will Be Successful

June 15, 2016 by Sandra Mashihi

We’ve all heard of failed 360-degree feedback programs at large, high profile companies. I’ve seen 360-degree feedback programs fail first hand, but they didn’t have to. There are things your client or company can do to get the most of your 360-degree feedback program.

In my post last week, I shared the “4 Immutable Laws of 360-Degree Feedback”. This week’s post I share 4 techniques where failure to use them can greatly diminish the value of the process. The following 4 tips are based on current research by our own Ken Nowack (2009) on “Best Practices” to ensure that the 360-degree process leads to sustainable behavioral change:

Hold the participant and line manager accountable for creating and implementing a development plan.

All too often, participants receive their feedback and managers feel that they have completed their duty in investing in their employee’s development. However, receiving feedback and reviewing a 360-degree feedback report is just the first step. It takes both the participant and his or her manager to collaborate and agree upon a development plan. If they don’t, misunderstanding will arise, the participant will be less likely to be held accountable for development, and the manager will assume no responsibility for his or her employee’s progress.

Provide individual coaching to assist in interpreting the multi-rater feedback.

Once participants receive their 360-degree feedback results, it is common for them to interpret the report and take action independently without the guidance of a coach. In such cases, they either aren’t setting goals effectively or neglect to continue progress because their company isn’t supporting them with on-going development. For this reason, to interpret and reflect upon the report with a coach would help guide the participant in the right direction to set goals and achieve them.

In one of the few empirical studies recently conducted on the impact of executive coaching, Smither, London, Flautt, Vargas, and Kucine (2003) reported that, after receiving 360-degree feedback, individuals who worked with a coach were significantly more likely to set measurable and specific goals and solicit ideas for improvement, and subsequently they received improved performance ratings.

In addition, Olivero, Bane, and Kopelman (1997) found that feedback and coaching for two months increased productivity over the effects of a managerial training program (80.0% vs. 22.4%) for 31 participants.

Link the 360-degree feedback intervention to a performance management process.

I have often seen 360-degree feedback interventions implemented without any tie the organization’s current performance management process. This does not mean that 360-degree feedback should be replaced for a performance management system. However, it can be used in conjunction with other performance management systems in place.

Target competencies for 360-degree feedback interventions that are related to strategic business needs.

When you ensure that target competencies for 360-degree feedback are related to the business needs you are creating a unified developmental process. For example, managers may need to enhance the critical competencies for competitive performance, based on feedback from multiple internal and external stakeholders. Or, the organizational hierarchy may have become rigid and 360-degree feedback is a way to develop a different culture that emphasizes continuous feedback and improvement.

Those using or implementing the 360-degree feedback tool need to determine what kind of results they choose to get out of it. If companies want to see development and behavioral results they may need to do more than just purchase and implement the tool, rather they may need to consider the suggestions above.

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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