Our clients ask us who should view a participant’s 360 report – the participant? their manager? the coach/HR/workshop facilitator?
There are many ways to answer this question, but one suggestion I have been making recently is that only the participant sees their full report. “Really?” you ask?
Yes. If the objective of the 360 feedback process is for development purposes, then:
- Give the participant their report
When reviewing their report, they should look for balanced feedback. Balance is imperative; it is just as important to identify the things one does well as it is to point out areas for improvement. I frequently see people focus solely on the lower scores, but this might not be in their best interest. An imbalance towards the negative may stifle more positive thoughts, and therefore, more positive results. For example, they may have gotten a low score on building and presenting PowerPoint decks. If this activity is not a primary one for them, these low ratings may be of little concern.
- Show/teach them how to understand the messages/themes in the report (this part is really important!)
A participant should look at the four to five highest scoring questions and ask themselves, “Is this is where I excel?” Then consider the five lowest scoring questions, and ask if these scores make sense. In doing so, they are looking at the relativeness of the scores, not the absolute numbers.
They should ask:
- What three things do people value most about working with me?
- In what two areas would I like to change in performance or behavior, or where the acquisition of additional skills or knowledge would likely lead to an improvement in performance?
- Have them report back to their manager on what they learned from their report
Once the themes and messages in the report are determined, the participant will owe a report to their manager with this information. The participant can decide to share the entire report with their manager as well.
- Have the participant set up an action plan for what they want to do with the feedback from the report
To get the most out of this 360 feedback process, they should be asked to develop an action plan based upon what they have learned (both strengths and places to improve), and be held accountable for following up on this plan.
In this approach:
- The participant is treated as an individual capable of understanding and acting on the feedback. This process makes the participant an agent in the process rather than just being a passive subject.
- The participant has to report their findings (both strengths and areas to work on) to their manager (and coop their support in their action-planning process).
- There is accountability by the way of action-planning and progress reports on the action-plan.
- Typically the manager has the ability to provide performance feedback in a separate conversation, so this conversation can truly be around development.
- While no person other than the participant will be provided this report, the participant has the option to share part or all of their report with their manager.
- This approach can mean a paradigm shift for the manager of the participant who may not see the entirety of the report, but will still have the ability to work with the participant on their understanding of and action-planning around the feedback.
At first I was hesitant to try it – after all, an organization expends a lot of resources to implement a 360 degree feedback process, and the manager may be used to seeing the individual reports. But with the right intent and training, I have seen this system work very well in a variety of organizations (large and small, different industries).
Note: Please be mindful that this approach assumes the objective is for a 360 degree feedback process to be a development tool!