The 360 Story – Introduction to 360s

360-Degree surveying is a popular way for organisations to evaluate performance, assist employee development, and support talent management processed. By one estimate, multi-source feedback such as a 360 surveying is used in 90% of Fortune 1000 organisations, and this trend is reflected across a broad range of organisational industries and sizes.

Although a 360 can be seen as a one-stop-shop, the process must be handled with care to ensure the outcomes are positive and meaningful. To help ensure sustained developmental change among participants there are some key points to keep in mind. Before embarking on a 360-Degree process it is important to ask yourself:

1. Why are we doing a 360-Degree survey and what are our desired outcomes?

It is important that there is a clear understanding across the business as to why the 360 is being done. The 360 process needs to be transparent from the very beginning. Without understanding the goals of the process, there will be little change and development as a result.

2. Is our organisation ready for a 360 process? How will we gain buy-in and support our staff along the way?

This can be a tough question to answer, but for any 360 process to be meaningful, individuals need to be open to giving and receiving feedback. It might mean that to get the best from the process you need to have evaluators complete some feedback training so that they provide constructive and helpful feedback and advice. This can also help avoid the 360 becoming an opportunity for people to air their general grievances. This also links into a key action point for 360s- they must be well communicated in terms of intentions and the ongoing consequences and action points. Finally, having the time and infrastructure to support staff is imperative. Although having objective third parties undertake coaching from 360s can lead to better outcomes, this cannot be at the expense of having recognition within the organisation.

3. Who are the most appropriate participants and evaluators?

Participants should be willing rather than forced to take part. As well, some thought should go into who the evaluators should be. They should be asked in advance to receiving a completion link. They should be someone who is comfortable with providing accurate, constructive, and honest feedback, and have seen the participant operate across a range of different situations and over a reasonable amount of time.

4. When is the most appropriate time to conduct the 360?

360s are time consuming, and so other operational requirements should be kept in mind when deciding to complete a 360. Being aware that some evaluators will have multiple evaluations to complete is also important. Allowing them the time in work hours to complete will help ensure buy in and completion. As well, 360s can reflect of the overall organisational environment, so be aware of how change could affect perceptions. 

5. How will you support people in ensuring sustained growth and prolonged outcomes?

360s offer a lot in terms of potential growth, however, before embarking on a 360 process it is important that consideration is given to how this will be managed. 360s are a process, not a singular event. Ongoing coaching and support is needed, along with consideration of individual goal setting and performance requirements.

For more information about how 360s might be useful for your organisation, please get in touch with your local OPRA office.

References:

Morgeson, F.P., Mumford, T.V., and Campion, M.A. (2005). Coming Full Circle – Using Research and Practice to Address 27 Questions About 360-Degree Feedback Programs. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 57(3), 196-209

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