The Power of Eight: Ascentia’s Golden Guidelines for powerful 360 feedback

Over the years Ascentia Corporate Coaching has been involved in many 360 feedback programmes.

We’ve designed competency frameworks, worked with clients’ existing frameworks, provided feedback to hundreds of managers and leaders and coached individuals through their 360 results to deliver compelling Personal Development Plans and help them achieve their coaching goals.

We understand how to ensure 360s transform employee engagement and give businesses a tangible commercial edge.

Here are our eight Golden Guidelines for driving impact through your 360 feedback programme.

1. Have a clear purpose:

Be clear on what you want the 360 to do. How will it meet your organisation’s development needs and help to achieve the organisational strategy? How will you know it has been effective?

2. Involve stakeholders in the design:

If you don’t already have a competency framework, involve your key stakeholders in designing one. In our experience, when stakeholders have a voice in the design of the framework there is much wider buy-in.

A common misconception is that competency framework development can be a long and complex process. Ascentia’s one day Strategic Success Modelling (SSM) workshop uses different exercise styles, competency cards and interactive software-aided processes to reach a commonly-understood and widely-agreed framework – all in one day.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate:

It’s been said so many times; communication is key. Ensure there is a robust communications process for engaging people in the 360. Brief those who will be taking part and their line manager where possible too. Be transparent as to who will get to see the final reports. Ensure the company intranet includes key information on the process. Have transparency on follow up processes and how any aggregate data might be used.

4. Get the feedback process right:

We’ve worked in many different ways feeding back 360 data to participants. It is a highly-sensitive process and, in our experience, it is essential to have both a robust feedback process in place and to clarify and communicate what the approach will be as part of the initial briefing sessions.

Some of the ways in which we’ve worked include:-

  • Providing 360 feedback face-to-face, with the session being their first sight of the report
  • Sharing 360 reports in advance of the feedback session with guidelines to help participants understand the feedback
  • Providing 360 feedback sessions over the phone as part of individual coaching programmes
  • Providing 360 feedback in conjunction with competency aligned psychometrics in a strengths focused approach
  • Training internal staff to provide effective 360 feedback

5. Engage line managers:

The more you can actively involve the line manager in the 360 outcomes – and especially the Personal Development Plan – the more likely the 360 is to have tangible impact on behaviours and productivity.

6. Relate the 360 to PDPs:

Use the 360 findings to create compelling Personal Development Plans with a focus on strengths as well as addressing significant weaknesses. The more the PDP can be related to achieving specific performance goals, the more powerful the PDP will be.

7. Aggregate the data:

Where the core group of leaders taking part in the 360 is large enough (we’d advise more than 5 participants), consider aggregating the data to provide high-level perspectives that can inform wider organisational development requirements.

8. Weave 360 feedback into wider HR processes:

Make the 360 process you’ve invested in work hard for you. The framework and feedback from a great 360 can be used to support the selection process for top talent and, used in combination with psychometric data you can create a more powerful, granular insight into development opportunities. The feedback can also be combined with personality data to inform talent discussions as an assessment of potential.

In our experience, 360 feedback can be a very powerful driver of behavioural change and, combined with robust and transparent feedback processes, it has the potential to be a strongly motivational and business-relevant tool, particularly when incorporating a focus on strengths.

The Assess system that we use for 360s at Ascentia is, we believe, one of the most comprehensive 360 tools available and has a number of powerful integrating components which you can learn more about here.