Over the years, we’ve developed some thoughts about how to make the 360 process work. They include:
- The focus of the process should be on learning and growth for the leaders, not creating accountability for the results.
- However, we must create accountability for following the process, but not for the numbers people receive in their feedback. Leaders who choose not to participatein the process probably need to find other things to do.
- The feedback can, and should be used, to support both individual and collective leadership development strategies.
- Patience is required. Real growth and improvement takes two to three iterations of the process. Most people don’t really think you’re serious after the first try. (And,most organizations quit after the first time.)
- Feedback from the leader’s boss and peers can be helpful. Feedback from the leader’s direct reports is vital.
- Sharing is critical. Most leaders improve more rapidly when they share their feedback with their direct reports and use it as a forum to gather more feedback,prioritize key issues and establish action plans. Worse, not sharing the feedback with the survey participants indicates (perhaps, unintentionally) a lack of caringabout the feedback.
- Repeat at regular intervals. Most organizations collect financial performance data monthly. Sales data is daily or weekly, and maybe even hourly. Some organizations collect manufacturing and quality process data continuously. Hence, it’s great folly to think we can collect 360 data once and think we’ve given our leaders enough feedback to significantly improve.
- Confidentiality is key. This is a difficult process for both those getting feedback and those providing the feedback. It’s critical to protect the confidentiality of those providing feedback so that you can collect the most open and honest feedback possible. Even then, expect that it will take two or more iterations beforepeople really get comfortable with the process.
- Any leader who attempts to figure out exactly who provided what feedback in the process needs to be shot on sight. It’s natural to want to know. Almost everyone asks, “Who said that?” in their survey feedback. But, actually attemptingto find out lifts that security that confidentiality provides…which limits the effectiveness for everyone.