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Kantoorgebouw De Blend

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Setting up the process of 360 degree feedback

Our experience is that communication before, during and after the 360 degree feedback project, is essential for its success. It is important to understand how different target audiences will respond to 360 degree feedback.

  • Objectives 360 degree feedback
    360 degree feedback is a structured way of obtaining feedback from your environment. That in itself is not the goal, it’s about what you want to achieve with it.
  • Communication Plan 360 degree feedback
    Our experience is that communication before, during and after the 360 ​​degree feedback project, is essential for its success. It is important to understand how different target audiences will respond to 360 degree feedback.

Objectives 360 degree feedback

360 degree feedback is a structured way of obtaining feedback from your environment. That in itself is not the objective, it’s about what you want to achieve with it. Basically there are two main objectives:

  • Development
  • Assessment

We will discuss both.

360 degree feedback for development

In the Netherlands this objective is the most common. The intention is to strengthen self-awareness. This may be in the context of training or courses, but can also be applied within organisations in the same way. This is also the safest application, in which respondents tend to give honest feedback. You will see more variation in the feedback, with more differences between the high and low scores. The feedback giver helps the other by identifying where strengths and weaknesses lie. It is important to articulate this objective well. I have experienced that the objective was actually to give people an opportunity to work on themselves, but because it was at the same time as the implementation of a reorganisation people were suspicious. That led to everybody having very high scores. We then had nothing for the talent development programme!

It is important here to process the feedback into a development plan to ensure that something is done with the insight gained. The development tips for each competency can help put you on the right track.

360 degree feedback for assessment

When 360 degree feedback is used to assess employees, it is important to handle this very carefully. The risk of tactically completing each other’s 360 degrees is lurking. In the US, for example, commercial employees ask their customers for high scores because this affects their remuneration. The following aspects are therefore very important:

  • The objective and procedure must be very clear.
    The employees must be well informed in which way the 360 degree feedback is involved in the assessment. Who selects which respondents and why? Can you influence that, for example? What happens to the report? What is the status of that report?
  • The assessment process must be experienced as fair.
    It should be especially clear what impact the results have on employment conditions and development opportunities. In my opinion you can avoid direct links to bonuses or other goodies. It should be clear that an employee has the opportunity to show his/her good sides and improve his/her weaker competencies.
  • It is necessary to have an open culture.
    Although 360 degree feedback can contribute to an open culture, there must be a beginning of openness. When nobody gives another feedback in daily practice, this method may be a bridge too far. First build trust in employment relations, especially between hierarchical layers. When the trust is too limited, I would recommend implementing the tool first as purely developmental.

When these conditions are met, the tool can acquire meaning integrated into the HR cycle. That still poses a good few questions on which we would gladly advise you.

We would be happy to answer any questions.

Please specify if you would like to receive a pilot 360-degree feedback questionnaire as a demo, or a login as a consultant to design a 360 questionnaire yourself.

 

Communication Plan for implementing 360 degree feedback

Our experience is that communication before, during and after the 360 degree feedback project, is essential for its success. It is important to understand how different target audiences will respond to 360 degree feedback.

A communication plan is desirable. Especially when it concerns an organisation-wide application. It seems obvious, but it can influence the success of the entire project to a large extent. Therefore appoint a steering committee or project group with representatives of different target audiences in the implementation phase. It is also useful to involve an internal communications consultant. Set up the communication plan together. Also think about the evaluation and integration in HR processes after the implementation phase.

Target audiences

We assume that the objectives of 360 degree feedback have been determined. In the steering committee you then identify the target audiences in the organisation. These are global:

  • Senior management
  • Junior/Middle management
  • Employees
  • Works Council
  • External relationships
  • Feedback receivers
  • Feedback givers

You can now create a matrix in a spreadsheet in which you articulate the message for each target audience and choose the media to get this message across.

Message

Take account of your target audience in the preparation of the message. What can I do with it? What does it mean for me? What is expected of me? When do I have to do something? Which risks are there?

You work this out per target audience. Naturally it helps if the message is consistent, but the Work Council might want to know issues other than external relationships. For example, if a school decides to get students to give feedback on teachers, then the parents may also want to know something about the how and what. For example, are the results are clear for them? What effect does that have? Why can they not give feedback? When an account manager asks clients for feedback, they also want to know what happens to it.

This message can be best tested by first presenting it to a small group, before you widely distribute it. How does it sound, is this clear, what more do you want to know? Those are good questions to ask. It is obviously an advantage when the target audiences are represented in the steering committee or a focus group. This test is often a small effort, if necessary by e-mail, but can help you articulate the message more effectively.

Media

The essence of choosing your media effectively, in my experience is: keep it personal, relevant and timely. Plug into existing media already used effectively as much as possible. For example if the intranet site is well used, then that is useful.

Organisation-wide Kick-off
We once held a kick-off at a local council for all civil servants. We were able to use a bandstand in an outside park. Foppe de Haan, a local hero, started the kick-off. The Councillor gave a presentation. Fortunately the weather was nice! Following that, all employees followed a short workshop to assess the significance of the core competencies of the local council into their own department. In one afternoon, the competencies were articulated as personal, relevant and timely as possible.

Training and workshops
Training for managers and workshops for employees are very useful methods. For managers, we mostly work with an introduction training in which the goals and the process of competency management is articulated. Preferably with a personal introduction by senior management. Then they receive training in the competency management application. We make receiving their own 360 degree feedback a part of that.
Furthermore, interviewing employees when receiving 360 degree feedback is also important. Especially how they can help the employees to receive feedback constructively and to convert it to personal development plans. The coaching of competence development would be a good addition.

Workshops for employees
If all employees can follow a workshop this is a very powerful method. In this workshop they receive their 360 degree feedback and place it in the context of their career and personal development. In addition to this, we often use a motivation questionnaire: Career Values. This gives insight into what you like and what works well with what you can do in order to prepare a PDP. Through these workshops, 360 degree feedback and competency management becomes very personalised. It becomes very real from an abstract story.

Other media
Naturally it is useful to upload a competency reference guide with development suggestions on the intranet. That makes it accessible. With this, you can use our free downloads or simply by linking from your website. It is also nice to offer convenient flyers/hand-outs, we have even made books the size of a credit card. Managers and employees could use these during their conversations. But do not think these resources are sufficient! They are at most supplementary to personal communication.

Embedding

Finally think about the embedding/integration. What happens six months after the introduction? We often see that there is a lot of attention to begin with, but that it subsequently slows down. Whilst some target audiences become involved much later on. Embedding/integration of the communication in the HR cycle is thus also essential.