One of the biggest changes in employee development in recent years has been the introduction of personal development plans, or as it is known in many quarters, 360 degree feedback.
We’re going to take a look at why they have become so popular, how they work and how to ensure you can get them working for your business as part of an integrated management system.
360 degree feedback is provided by key stakeholders in the business who have regular contact with the employee and receive confidential and anonymous feedback from their colleagues. The aim is to provide feedback at a confidential level and give as well rounded a view as possible of the employee.
360 degree feedback should be conducted every quarter and make up part of the overall appraisal process but shouldn’t be used to wholey measure performance. A 360 degree feedback is about an individual’s competencies, therefore this is a tool to help both the manager and the employee assess their strengths and weaknesses which gives them the basis for development and that can be analysed over the period of a year and worked upon each quarter.
The 360 feedback system process
The 360 feedback system is a process where employees are engaged to provide anonymous feedback on an individual in a business and give them rounded evaluations as to strengths and weaknesses and what can be further improved over a period of time following a development plan.
By bringing in key stakeholders who have a relationship with the employee and by making it anonymous, it allows the whole process to be an open evaluation of areas which can be improved and which are working very well.
The whole process can be done initially with technology, using questionnaires, surveys and evaluation tools that are submitted online. By doing this element confidentially, it allows the participants to give thorough feedback without fear and it also provides insights that may not have come out if they weren’t confidential.
Management then takes the data and information provided and creates a structured approach to perform the 360 degree feedback. A series of different information points are presented in a report that is used to help the manager go through with the employee and create a tailored plan to get key skills, strengths and weaknesses aligned with the organisation and what can be improved moving forwards.
There are lots of different reasons as to why a business may use this which includes:
- It provides qualitative and quantitative data which both the department and the wider organisation can use throughout.
- It helps identify and reinforce links between competencies, behaviours and values for the job role.
- Employees can develop professionally and personally with a greater understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
- It helps solidify the idea between employee recruitment and retention with a commitment to employee development.
- Because it is a transparent tool, it encourages an open culture that values feedback.
Getting 360 feedback reviews right
There are of course lots of ways that 360 degree feedback can go both right and wrong. From having too much information which can overwhelm, a system which doesn’t take into account exceptional circumstances or having team members not receptive to this kind of feedback can all throw a spanner in the works.
However it is argued by many experts that implementing such a structured approach over a period of time can lead to many good outcomes across an organisation.
According to Jack Zenger, a highly-regarded global expert on organizational behavior, he has come to recognize "...the value of 360 feedback as a central part of leadership development programs. It’s a practical way to get a large group of leaders in an organization to be comfortable with receiving feedback from direct reports, peers, bosses, and other groups.”
Jack adds, that “once leaders begin to see the huge value to be gained, in fact, we see them add other groups to their raters such as suppliers, customers, or those two levels below them in the organization."
Zenger also studied the usage of such feedback in Fortune 500 companies and discovered more than 85% of them use this feedback as a cornerstone of the “overall leadership development process.”
According to both Zenger and Maury Peiperl, (Harvard Alumni Council Member and London Business School) a 360 degree feedback should start within the first quarter of someone starting their role within the organization.
“Once someone has transitioned into a role, they need support and feedback to maximise their faith within the organisation but further to this is the need to constantly analyse as a business where you can support your staff” claims Peiperl.
Because 360 degree feedback is about giving insights into behaviours and competencies, it can’t be used as part of a wider performance tool - instead it needs to be separate and highlight these differences. The Harvard Business Review advises that these assessments take place every quarter or even a little more widely spaced out so as to “provide a wider feedback position for the employee to take onboard training and new processes.”
The Thomas 360 Bespoke system
The Thomas 360 Bespoke system provides an objective framework for identifying performance gaps, developing self-awareness, confidence and motivation.
This assessment quickly and easily enables people to gather performance feedback from their managers, colleagues, team members and customers and then compare this feedback with their own perception of their performance.
The Thomas 360 Bespoke allows you to choose the areas required for your business, either by selecting from the eight questionnaire templates or selecting from the bank of 31 competencies.
In summary, 360 degree feedback is a tool that should be used to assess an individual’s competencies, strengths and weaknesses. It is performed with other stakeholders in the business supplying feedback confidentially using web tools to fill out surveys and questionnaires.
Businesses can use this data to help provide structured analysis and development plans over a period of time. It helps leadership and promote an open business culture.
360 degree feedback should be conducted from the beginning and preferably every quarter helping employees develop, and management to motivate and support their teams.
For more information about 360 degree feedback and how to incorporate the Thomas 360 Bespoke system as part of your employee development programme, please speak to one of our team.