Understanding how others perceive us in the workplace can be a powerful tool in the management toolkit. 360-degree management development is one way to achieve these valuable insights and has significant benefits for the organisation.
What is 360?
360-degree feedback is a multi-level, multi-source feedback process which provides individuals with a holistic view of their behaviour in the workplace. Employees may receive feedback from their Manager in the form of performance review meetings or development conversations. However the opportunity to gain direct feedback from all sides can be hugely valuable. Feedback can be valuable is all sectors we work in.
GPs, Opticians, Vets, Care Home Managers and Nurses could all benefit from this type of feedback from their teams.
What does it look like?
360-degree feedback can be provided as a questionnaire, ideally based on the competencies for the role. It can have additional open questions to capture written feedback on areas which are working well for the individual as well as not so well. “Raters” can be chosen from a pool of colleagues including Manager, peers, direct reports, customers, etc. The process should protect the anonymity of those providing feedback and so encourage open and honest feedback.
When to do 360?
It is important that this takes place at a time when the individuals and organisation is ready to support open development discussions. This is an organisational responsibility and it is important to consider when it is taking place and how it is being communicated and delivered.
What is the output?
The ‘output’ from the process is typically a report providing the individual with their and others’ ratings of their behaviour in the workplace, followed ideally by a feedback session.
The feedback session from a trained feedback facilitator is the opportunity for the individual and facilitator to explore the reality of these views and enable the individual to identify clear development goals, ideally placing the responsibility on them for their own development.
Why do it?
One of the main benefits for the individual is an increased and focused level of self-awareness. Understanding yourself is a vital first step for starting a personal development journey or when thinking about applying for a new job; for example understanding yourself, how you fit into your current team and your development needs.
The process of 360 provides feedback on specific areas for development and areas of strength which allow the individual to understand where they can specifically focus their development plans.
The individual can gain valuable and lasting insight into how ‘what they do’ affects their performance in the workplace. An example could be a Manager who works effectively but largely in an unstructured and unmethodical way.
They may know that they are not a particularly structured person and may have identified time management issues; but they may not be aware how this affects the productivity of others who find this to be distracting or stressful as they are trying to second guess what the individual may be doing or what they may need or want.
By receiving feedback from individuals in this safe way, the individual can gain valuable insight and potentially adapt their approach / style to reduce the negative impact on others in the workplace, or simply opening up communication.
The organisation stands to gain from the process also; the process of 360-degree feedback can provide a level of self-awareness which increases efficiency and impact positively on those the individual engages with regularly. The individual will have an evidence-base for their development plans, based upon the needs of those within the organisation, including their line manager and direct reports.
Handled well, 360-degree feedback has the potential to benefit a whole team as it can open up communication within the team, address underlying issues which may be affecting a number of people, directly or indirectly.
It can also involve customers or clients to gain feedback directly from them, demonstrating openness and potentially strengthen relations. The organisation can identify areas to focus development plans across jobs or use it to launch a new performance development process.
The process and feedback session can also encourage more personal responsibility in staff for owning their own development, which research suggests will make them more likely to take it forward.