3 Don’ts of 360 Feedback

360 feedback can be an excellent instrument in the hands of trained experts, but 360 feedback essentially is a tool. It’s much like a hammer – a hammer can be used constructively, to build things, but in inexperienced hands it can also be destructive, or even downright dangerous.
We have many managers who come to us, and tell us that our ExcelView 360 Feedback process (where they are able to go through their report and process it over the phone with a trained 360 coach) has been very constructive, and has helped them to focus on areas they would like to develop in, and that is always great to hear.
However, we have also had managers come to us and tell us that they have been through the 360 process with another provider or under another employer, and it had actually been completely destructive, they didn’t find it helpful at all, and in fact it served to undermine their productivity. In at least one case that I am aware of, the experience led the individual make the decision to leave the organization after receiving feedback. When you ask these people what some of the differences were between their earlier negative 360 experiences and those that they later found much more productive, it becomes clear that there are a number of things that you need to avoid when implementing a 360 Feedback process.

The 3 Don’ts
There are certain things that you will want to avoid doing when you decide to implement a 360 process, whether it is for 2 managers or 2000.
1) Don’t launch the process without explaining it fully
The 360 process should never be deployed until both those receiving feedback, and those who will be giving it, have a clear picture of the entire process. You will want to explain that the process is purely developmental (and we do recommend that the purpose be developmental unless you are well into subsequent rounds of feedback in a fully established process with accountabilities).

2) Don’t do 360 Feedback in isolation
We always recommend that the 360 be deployed in conjunction with a psychometric of behaviour-based tool, such as the DISC profile. The reason for this is that statistics indicate the close to 80% of feedback the managers receive is actually behaviour-based, rather than skills-based. In other words, when the feedback comes in, it does not mean that there are things the manager cannot do, rather it really shows you observation that the team make, based on their perspectives. If you have a manager, for example, who is very extroverted, fast-paced and big picture oriented, and they are managing a team that is much more introverted, analytical and detail-oriented, you are going to hear very different feedback than if the manager had a team who was very similar to his or her own behavioural style. You will likely hear remarks such as “My manager is unrealistic with deadlines and goals”, “My manager talks too much and doesn’t listen enough” – these style conflicts will come out in the feedback.

3) Don’t just hand over the completed feedback
When the feedback is in and the report has been compiled, don’t just hand the results over to the manager – doing so can actually be extremely de-motivating and detrimental. There might be some controversial content in the feedback that requires some context, and they will need to review it with their manager, or perhaps with a trained external coach. When we begin implementing 360 Feedback with organizations or managers, we are very clear up front to make sure that they understand what the process is all about, what they can expect, what the goals are, and the fact that we are here to help them, the fact that it is developmental. We have a clear process before they get on the phone to review the feedback from the privacy of their own office, so that they have read through it, they understand where they’re going. When they meet online with a coach, this coach is trained with the expertise to be able to review the content of the 360, but also to build a bridge with the psychometric and behavioral-based understanding, which creates a context that is really much more productive in helping the manager to move forward with two or three development action plans they would like to focus on over the following 12-24 months.
Visit our online 360 page to see this article in video format at www.ExcelGroupWorks.com/360.htm

Author's Bio: 

Chuck brings a human value to his role as a Principal and Chief Performance Officer of Excel Group Development (ExcelGroupWorks.com), a Canadian-based Performance and Learning company. He is a skilled and entertaining facilitator who addresses thousands of people each year in the areas of Management Effectiveness, Coaching for Performance, Personal Performance, Effective Communication Habits, and Effective Team Communications.

Chuck has a background in the consumer packaged goods and staffing industries. His experience includes management, sales and marketing. Chuck holds a degree in Political Science and is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA). He’s known to many executives as a challenging coach and uses a people-focussed leadership style at Excel Group. He volunteers his time to work with youth and is a sought-after speaker at educational conferences and schools on the subjects of Goal Setting and Employability Skills. Chuck is a past member of the Board of Directors for Eva’s Place, a homeless youth shelter in Toronto. Chuck is an avid runner having completed a few half marathons and a full marathon.