360 Degree Feedback Tools at a Glance


1. What is 360 degree feedback?

Designed as a personal development tool for leaders and managers at all levels. 360 degree feedback is the ideal way of getting a genuine picture of how a persons leadership/ management style is perceived by those around them.

The overall aim of the feedback exercise is to raise awareness of the participant to known and unknown strengths and to their opportunities for development and continuous performance improvement.

The underpinning concept is to provide participants with the opportunity to see themselves as others see them. Quantitative and qualitative feedback about HOW the person does their job is collected from multiple sources (normally their manager[s], colleagues, direct reports and customers). A feedback report is then produced that allows the participant to compare their view of themselves with the feedback from others.

2. What should you expect from the latest generation of 360 tools?

Early iterations consisted of internally driven, generic, paper based questionnaires that were manually processed and thus prone to error, sometimes causing those participating to distrust the process. Today, the best 360 degree feedback tools are:

  • Fully automated - They use a rigorously tested online system that guarantees the accuracy, quality and confidentiality of the whole process.
  • Individualised - Generic 360 questionnaires, although often useful, only tell half the story as they fail to fully reflect the culture and environment in which the subject works. To be really effective, questionnaires need to be built to meet the organisation's (or individual's) specific needs. The best systems provide bespoke questionnaires that are easily built and cost effective.
  • Flexible - Enabling all aspects of branding, process implementation, client support, design, development and questionnaire / report formats to be easily adjusted to meet the client's needs at no extra cost.
  • User friendly - Today's feedback reports must be easily interpreted yet comprehensive; no longer is it acceptable to provide reports containing cryptic data that appear confusing, overwhelming and require an analyst to decipher! Feedback reports should be clear, concise, understandable and easy to interpret.

3. Where can 360 degree feedback tools add value?

360s are viewed as critical components in a wide range of management development interventions. Below are some of the most common applications where 360s are used to add real value:

  • Performance Coaching - Used at the beginning of a coaching relationship, a 360 degree feedback report can be a powerful 'accelerator' and 'alignment' tool. By clustering and prioritising any undesirable feedback results the subject and coach can quickly gain a clear picture of where their coaching sessions should focus, ensuring key development issues are recognised and addressed. This approach to performance coaching ensures a needs driven focus based on valid, factual, accurate behavioural information.
  • Personal Development - Used as part of a 'life coaching' programme or as an annual development tool, 360 feedback can be used to provide genuine insight into an individual's working style across a spectrum of leadership and management behaviours and into how their 'personal brand' is perceived. The feedback report can be used to provide clarity of direction for future personal development and career planning. We are also starting to see a trend for using 360s to supplement and provide qualitative evidence in CVs!
  • Performance Management - A common trend is to use 360 feedback to provide an 'all round view' of performance as part of the appraisal process. The feedback is used by line managers to inform appraisal ratings and contribute to the development discussion. Used in this way, the tool can also act as a management strength benchmark, as well as highlighting individual personal strengths and problem areas.
  • Development Programmes - Used at the beginning of a leadership or management development programme, 360 degree feedback tools can be used to:
    • Inform (or determine) programme content - The feedback data from a group of people can be combined into a Group Summary Report that provides an aggregated view of the group's strengths and key development areas. Using 360s in this way enables programme designers to effectively tailor their programme content to meet specific identified needs.
    • Individual alignment - Providing programme participants with feedback against what is expected of them in their role and then supporting them to convert their lower ratings into a meaningful personal development plan for the programme is a great way of making the programme 'real' for them and ensuring that they start their development journey with a clear picture of what success from the programme will look like for them.
  • Talent Management - Whilst 360 degree feedback provides insight into a manager's past and current behaviour, when the framework of questions used includes those attributes and qualities needed to work at more senior levels they can also acts an an indicator of future performance and growth potential. 360 feedback can be a powerful component within a talent management programme and is often used to:
    • Benchmark / identify the talent strength within an organisation.
    • Identify those individuals who have the potential to operate at the next level.
    • Highlight how ability and potential can be developed.
    • Act as a progress measure.
    • Provide evidence based data for any prospective 'chessboard' talent management process.
  • 180 Degree Training Course Workbook - As trainers and developers we all recognise that the pre- and post-course discussions between a course participant and their line manager are crucial in the process of making training stick and ensuring a real return on investment. Unfortunately, not all line managers have the development skills needed to effectively conduct these key conversations.

    Lumus™ has recently developed a 180 Degree Training Course Workbook designed to facilitate these conversations. Based on feedback collected from the line manager and participant against those skills covered on the course, the workbook presents the feedback along with key questions needed to enable a meaningful pre-course conversation which results in a clear set of development objectives. The workbook is also used at the end of the course to reinforce the learning, link it to the individual's role and explore how it will be used to add measurable benefit within the organisation.
  • Team Feedback - Just as an individual 360 provides a snapshot of how the participant is seen by those they work with, a team 360 feedback report collects feedback from groups of stakeholders from across the organisation. This tailored survey provides excellent feedback for use in team development sessions and can be used to help teams gain clarity of purpose and direction, understanding the expectations of stakeholders and providing a clear picture of a team's strengths and weaknesses.

    Lumus™ has also developed a Team Development 360 that allows team members to rate each other against those skills needed for successful team working. Used as part of a development event, the tool provides insight about team functioning, direction, working relationships, atmosphere, communications etc.
  • Individual Contributor - We are frequently asked to provide feedback tools for individual team members who want to gain development feedback on their personal effectiveness. Questionnaires are typically built around a range of individual skills areas such as planning, use of time, delivery, relationship building, influencing, customer focus, self confidence, continuous improvement etc.

 

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For further details about Lumus™ please call +44 (0)1291 637380 or email david@lumus360.co.uk.