How to Leverage 360-Degree Feedback to Ensure Successful Behavior Change?

September 7, 2015 by Sandra Mashihi

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” -Wayne Gretsky

A fundamental issue that comes up in practice has to do what to do once 360-degree feedback has been implemented. How do we maximize the use 360s to ensure our client’s behavior change?

Organizations that implement a systemic approach to talent development with support from a manager and follow up development activities tied to performance improvement will have the most effective outcomes in leadership development (Nowack, 2009).

1. Manager as a Coach. A better understanding of the role of the manager as an important internal coach and how organizational culture influences promoting and sustaining new behavior is in need of greater exploration. The manager can reinforce and support the implementation of the development plan of the participant. This is important in light of recent findings suggesting that effect sizes for transfer of management training interventions are generally low (particularly when seen by direct reports and peers) but can be improved significantly with opportunities for structured and deliberate practice (Taylor, Taylor, & Russ-Eft, 2009).

2. Online Goal Setting/Reminder Systems. Use of newer online goal setting and development planning/reminder systems can facilitate goal planning and follow-up in order to leverage multi-rater feedback interventions. In a recent unpublished one-year longitudinal study using this online coaching system with a major university medical center, significant behavior change was observed by managers, direct reports, and peers on a post-program assessment (Nowack, 2011).

These finding suggests that performance can be practically enhanced by using a 360-degree feedback process involving managers as “performance coaches” and holding participants accountable for creating and implementing a development plan based on 360 results.

Coach’s Critique: 

It is very common for 360s to be utilized without any kind of plan for leveraging the feedback for behavioral change. Organizations implement department wide 360s and hope that somehow the awareness that they received automatically turns them into better leaders. Managers implement 360 on their team, and expect that it would somehow result in their behavioral change without them knowing how to set goals, or have any kind of accountability or support system to work at their goals. Unfortunately, these expectations may be deemed as”wishful thinking”!

While feedback is a necessary condition for behavioral change, it is NOT sufficient in and of itself. In order for participants to translate their feedback into new habits, they need to collaboratively agree upon goals with their manager, and implement an accountability system in order to achieve them. While this is a necessary approach, managers often neglect to coach their teams, either because their organization isn’t rewarding them for it, or because they aren’t aware of the importance in doing so.

We all know that learning a new behavior isn’t easy. It is often a bumpy road for many individuals seeking change. In fact, research by Anders Ericsson and colleagues suggest that it takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice with on-going feedback in order to become an expert at something. With that said, shouldn’t managers take on the coaching role to ensure the behavioral change of their talent?

What has been your experience with ways to leverage 360-degree feedback?

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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