The Do's and Don'ts of 360 Feedback
By Jillian Broaddus and Chuck Cusumano
Congrats! You’ve taken the pivotal and humble step to engage in 360-degree feedback as a cornerstone of your leadership development process. You’re on the precipice of uncovering valuable data and commentary on your strengths and areas of improvement as a leader. You’ve made the choice to invest in yourself, your team, and your future.
However, before you begin, we must say: not all feedback initiatives are created equal. In fact, there are many important aspects to the entire process that must be followed in order to be successful. And – unfortunately – there are mistakes that can be made that could put you even further back than where you began.
Not to worry – that’s why we created this blog post! Through nearly a decade of offering 360 surveys to clients, we’ve compiled our list of more than just recommendations or “best practices.” This is the ultimate record of the dos and don’ts of 360 feedback.
Here we go…
DO: Remain open to the process. It’s not enough to simply engage in a check-the-box assessment initiative. A leader must remain truly open to feedback, critiques, and development. This comes in the form of encouraging participation, acknowledging what was said, and acting upon the recommendations for growth. Speaking of…
DON’T: Be vague about the anonymity of the survey. For those new to 360s – or even the experienced population – giving constructive critiques can be intimidating. In order to secure the most honest and unfiltered advice, ensure employees understand what will and won’t be exposed. It varies by survey, but many will include comments listed by position title, and/or leave direct manager feedback non-anonymous. Ensure the instructions are crystal clear so all employees are comfortable contributing.
DO: Acknowledge appreciation. Providing feedback for others takes time, vulnerability, and a sense of care. After all, we only provide constructive criticisms to those whom we truly care about bettering. Acknowledge appreciation for employees by rewarding participation (say, a pizza party at a certain percentage point, since the feedback will likely be mostly anonymous!) and sending thank-you notes. However, the best way to show appreciation is – of course – showing improvement! Speaking of…
DON’T: Ignore the feedback. Employees who are willing to give feedback will quickly be unwilling to if they find their responses weren’t listened to. As the recipient, take time to accept the feedback, and then make it a point to action plan. Studies show that leaders who action plan are 3x as likely to show improvement over the subsequent six months following 360 feedback than those who don’t.
DO: Involve others in your subsequent action planning. As we mentioned, your employees will be more engaged and willing to continue offering suggestions for improvement if they know their voices are heard and acted upon. Plus, involving others in your action planning adds in a layer of accountability as you set out to achieve new goals!
DON’T: Hone in on the negatives. It’s easy – in fact, it’s human nature – to focus on the negatives we receive. Hearing negative commentary can go against our own self-image, hurt our egos, and make us self-conscious. However, while focusing on the ways you can improve is a critical half to the feedback process, leveraging your strengths is of equal importance. Gallup reports that employees and leaders are 6 times more likely to be engaged and productive when they know, apply, and build on their strengths.
There you have it! With these dos and don’ts in your back pocket, you’ll be well-positioned to make the most of your 360-degree feedback process so that you can leverage your strengths, improve your areas of opportunity, strengthen your team, engage your workforce, and better your life and leadership!
If you haven’t yet participated in a 360 process, we recommend re-reading our first “DO.” In fact, Forbes reports that more than 85% of all Fortune 500 companies utilize 360-degree feedback, and that 65% of employees actively want more feedback.
At The Joshua Group, we offer customized 360 surveys focused on tackling any area you want to measure – from how well you’re executing to how engaged your people are. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what you’re looking for and what we can build to help you achieve it!