Reinforcing change through 360-degree feedback

by 28 Nov 2006

Q. Last year our managers all went through a 360-degree feedback process. It was well received but how can we ensure that in this next cycle they actually commit to and make some positive behavioural changes that benefit them and the organisation?

HR manager, state public sector organisation

A. Feedback processes are the most powerful learning experience for managers. We know that even if they are unsupported by any other activities they still have an impact. Even though most managers are reasonably self-aware and the 360 results therefore might simply be confirming what they already know they need to change, changing behaviour is really hard. There are some steps that people can take to get the most out of the 360 process and really commit to professional development:

1. Communicate at the start of the process that the project is about professional improvement. Make it clear the organisation expects people to commit to and make changes to the way they operate in the workplace. Often these changes can be as simple as shifting priorities.

2. Involve the participant’s managers in the process. For example, ensure the managers have a meeting with the participants after they’ve completed the debriefing process when they have gone through the report with a consultant or coach. They need to share their insights from the report with their manager.

3. Support the report with tools that help the participant reflect on the data. For example, were there any parts of the report that surprised them, what were their strengths, etc? Participants can complete these exercises after their debriefing session.

4. Use the 360 report as an input into their professional development plan. Ensure the participant and their manager are accountable for completed plans. A written plan has far more chance of success than one that stays in someone’s head. Follow up to see that plans have been completed.

5. Encourage participants to give their staff some summary feedback about what they learned and what they are going to do differently. Going public with actions increases the commitment factor.

6. Generate an aggregate report for all the participants and bring them together to examine key trends for the group. Ask them to commit to actions as a group.

By creating clear expectations about what results the organisation expects and providing a rigorous process and supportive tools, you will get maximum leverage from each 360-degree feedback cycle

By Maryanne Mooney, director, Full Circle Feedback.