A roadmap to the next level

Jan 16, 2019 | Assess, Leadership Lounge

Improvement through 360-degree feedback surveys.

Working in leadership development for more than 25 years, I’ve learned how to identify many of the traits shared by strong leaders. In my experience, one of the most common threads is a relentless desire to improve. However, even ceaseless motivation often requires some amount of strategy and direction. One of my favorite tools for guiding performance improvements that we use often at Accendo, is our 360-degree feedback survey.

What is a 360 Survey?

As you might expect, a 360 survey is a comprehensive approach that examines individuals from every direction. It gathers data from different people, in different roles, with different perspectives on the individual we are coaching and developing. We typically use a robust combination of raters including the individual’s direct manager, direct reports, and peers. The quantitative and qualitative insights that are gained as a result of the information gathered helps us work with the leader to create a plan of action for professional development and workplace improvement.

If done properly, the 360-feedback tool is a powerful self-awareness catalyst which enables leaders to go deep into their professional development. But more often than not, we hear horror stories of 360s gone bad. These surveys can be used improperly and create misguided angst and feelings of unfair attacks. Above all, this is about development of a human being and that needs to be the framework around, what should be, a positive, productive, and impactful experience with the results analyzed and delivered by a professional. (More on that next.)

Set the Stage

Not surprisingly, a 360 survey requires a deliberate approach. The sensitivities that accompany co-worker reviews make this all the more critical.

The research I’ve seen supports our firm’s approach in creating a participative process for reviewer selection to add credibility – which means the person being assessed is involved, as well as their direct supervisor to review and agree the reviewer list. Additionally, use a third party to administer the test and compile results. By using this unbiased third-party administrator, the leader being assessed will likely receive more open and honest feedback, which is key to getting the most usable results.

And finally, the end depends on the beginning. The WAY in which the 360 survey is framed at the beginning of the process to the receiver of this feedback is critical. Does the messaging come across as a punitive probationary action or a positive developmental process?

Follow Through

Of course, a 360 survey’s potential to impact your organization is determined by how the information is used. Those looking for an effective tool to establish baseline behavior and performance benchmarks, set meaningful goals, and track improvements will likely find 360 surveys a positive solution. The importance of goal setting to complete the process – and jump start the development path forward – cannot be understated. We encourage the integration of executive coaching as it increases the likelihood that individuals set measurable, specific goals. Tying talent development to performance improvement also produces more of the preferred outcomes. The 360 survey should not take the place of regular development meetings, performance conversations, or feedback, nor be linked to compensation decisions.

Use your 360 for good, not evil. It can make a significant impact for your organization.

If your company shares our commitment to teaching, growing and developing people, the process is certainly worth exploring. At Accendo, we customize 360 surveys to meet your needs. Let us know how we can help.

Thank you for the feedback, ideas, and questions. Keep them coming. We love learning from you. The ideas and topics that interest you help us curate Accendo’s People Matter(s) for you… so thank you. In the spirit of “You. Only Better.”, let me know how you will make you – and your team – better in 2019. Kimberly@AccendoInternational.com



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