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360 Degree Feedback FAQ

Not sure what 360 degree feedback is, how it works, or why you should use it? Find the answers to your questions below:

What type of support does GFB provide?

We offer support in a number of different ways:

During the planning phase - we will support you to ensure that you have considered all the important decisions you needs to make. This is the most crucial stage for ensuring that you have positioned the survey appropriately, so we can advise you on what to communicate, when and how.

During the implementation phase - our technical support team are on hand to support the 360 delegates as they complete their nominations form or the survey, and the nominees as they complete the survey. They can be contacted by phone during office hours and by email at other times. We guarantee a speedy response. If you are self-administering your survey you also have access to technical support.

During the feedback phase - we can support your organisation by providing training to HR and managers so that you can facilitate the feedback sessions, or we can do this for you.

Can you do group reporting?

Yes, the group report provides valuable insights for team and group development. Identifying strengths and development areas across a group as well as completion data. Group behavioural scores can support training needs, helping you to decide where to allocate budget and resources for ongoing development.

How confidential is the process?

This depends on how you decide to carry out the survey. GFB can ensure total confidentiality and anonymity. We can do this because of our secure online platform and because we are external to your company. If you self-administer your survey the administrator can gain access to the reports and survey results for all nominees. If that person is from HR they are used to handling sensitive information and therefore this should not be a problem. If however that might be an issue we could administer the survey for you. You would send us the email addresses of those who are going to receive feedback. We enter them into the system and they receive an email from us with the link to their survey and nominations form - no involvement from you required.

Should you use the same 360 for all levels of the organisation?

No, the 360 report should be tailored for each level in the organisation. For those senior managers you would want to include statements that tap into the strategic or cultural use of the behaviour. For managers this is likely to be less relevant so you’d not include those statements. For individual contributors you have two options, either only use statements relevant to them, or to use something similar to the managers as a 360 is also about identifying future potential.

How long does it take to complete a 360?

Start to finish implementing and running a one-off 360 feedback programme takes between 1 to 2 months (longer if you need to define your competency framework). This is from the planning phase to the end of the reporting of the results.

In many organisations the process is ongoing with new managers being put through the process on a monthly basis and 360’s being carried out annually. To complete the actual survey as a nominee depends on the number of statements, but we’d typically say between 15 and 25 minutes.

Should 360° feedback be used as part of the appraisal process?

One of the benefits of using 360 feedback is that they can improve the quality of the discussions that a manager has with their direct reports. They provide a framework for the ongoing discussion the they will have during their 1-2-1’s. 360’s should not be linked to compensation as doing so can threaten the likelihood of raters giving honest feedback.

Which competency framework is GFB's 360 based on and why?

We use the Schroder High Performance Managerial Competency Framework to build our feedback surveys, because it has been extensively validated across a wide range of industries and job levels.

This framework is also excellent at helping to differentiate between high performers and average performers, which means the feedback survey results make it easier to identify talent and manage individual performance more effectively.

What sort of engagement and comms would you recommend to sell this tool to the business?

Rolling out a 360 feedback survey requires buy-in from all those involved. The best way to achieve this is to engage with the senior managers. Ideally, get them to pilot the process - their direct reports will provide feedback on them which means they get to see how it all works before having to receive feedback themselves.

It’s important to take the time to communicate about the survey. Tell people about the project’s aims and objectives, why you’re going to use 360. what the benefits of using it are. Explain the process and what information and support they’ll receive. Let people know what will happen next. If the survey can be an agenda item on everyone’s team meeting then so much the better. Go along to the meetings and answer questions, or if that’s not practical ensure you have briefed the managers so that they can deal with the worries and concerns people may have.

Why would I choose 360 over other methods?

360 feedback offers a unique opportunity to quickly find out about the talent within the organisation. It is more cost-effective than approaches such as development centres, work-shadowing or interviews as it can be rolled out across the organisation at the same time. The initial set-up time and cost may be comparable to other methods, but once the process has been tested and signed-off the sky’s the limit in terms of how many people you can put through the process. Reporting is automatic, both in terms of individual reports and group reports. The process is fair and objective as everyone has been put through the same process.

What kinds of things could I measure with a 360?

Typically 360s measure how someone goes about their job - the behaviours they use. You could also measure knowledge or the specific skills required by the role. You should never assess personality traits or style.

What is 360 feedback?

360 feedback surveys, also known as multi-source feedback, are designed to gather information about an individual’s performance. They are multi-source because feedback is gathered from a variety of people with whom the individual interacts on a regular basis i.e. manager, direct report, peers, and customers. It compares these ratings with the individuals own perceptions of how they get things done at work.

How often should you run 360s?

You can run them as often as you like, but typically most of the organisations we work with run them on an annual basis.

Can we pool the data to create an overall profile?

Yes, it is possible to pool the data to create a profile for the company, department, team, job role or job level. Our database allows us to manipulate the data to provide you with the information in the format that works best for you.

Should we stagger this so that the whole management population is not snowed under with these questionnaires?

Yes, this is advisable. Remember that a manager will have surveys to complete for all their direct reports as well as potentially for their colleagues. This could add up to a considerable time commitment. Working out how to stagger the process is an important task to complete during the planning phase.

How many respondents should you have?

Generally we say the minimum is 6 - this is the rate themselves, their line manager and four other respondents with a maximum of 15. The ideal would be at least 3 respondents per respondent group.

How can I make our 360 programme successful?

Careful planning is crucial for the success of your 360 feedback programme. Ensuring that you allocate sufficient resource and time to each stage of the process will give you the best chance of considering your options and selecting the most appropriate course of action for your company.

Communicating frequently and getting the buy-in of all involved is essential. Starting right at the top is the best way to start as it sends out a strong message that the programme is valued.

Should I choose an off the shelf 360 or pay more for a bespoke one?

There’s no denying that a bespoke survey is likely to reap the greatest benefits. A survey that uses your language and is precisely aligned to your goals is going to yield the most valuable information for your employees to work with and take action on. Creating a survey that has the look and feel that your employees connect with can help to create buy-in as well as reinforce the company’s value for its people. It’s not just the survey that can be bespoke. We can work with you to create a development report that doubles up as a workbook to support your employees development, not just a report full of tables and charts.

If you don’t have a competency framework in place and there isn’t the time or budget to design a bespoke competency framework, then the off-the shelf option is the best for you. You can be safe in the knowledge that our framework is reliable and validated and that any improvement in the behaviours will have a positive impact on your organisations performance. We can quickly and easily set your nominees up on the system so that they can be receiving their feedback in a matter of weeks. Or, we could train you up to be a systems user so that you can administer 360’s for yourself. You still get the benefits of our brilliant reports which have been designed with behavioural change in mind.

What if my organisation doesn't have a competency framework?

Many organisations are in a similar position and it is for this reason that many want to work with GFB. There are a number of ways that we can help. We have a reliable and validated competency framework that is comprised of 11 behaviours, which if used at strength level have been proven to have a positive impact on individual and organisational performance. We call it the high performance leadership framework and we use if not just in 360’s but in assessment and selection and development.

The alternative approach is for us to work with you to define the specific competencies that are required and relevant for your company. We’ve designed many competency frameworks and the response from the organisations we have worked with is that they really make a difference. By creating a framework that uses your language and reflects your values your 360 feedback survey will rally hit the mark. Buy-in to the process is likely to be easier to achieve and any ongoing support and development interventions are linked directly to the goals and objectives of the business.

What time and resource investment do we need, and what is the typical ROI from doing this?

There’s no beating around the bush - getting your 360 feedback survey right first time takes time and resources. There is a lot of work up front to plan your survey. You’ll need to answer questions like; who do you want to rate, who’s going to give the feedback and what competencies do we want to assess. Time is also needed to devise communication plans and to actually do the communicating to get people on board. That’s not to mention designing the survey and the reports and training people within the business to deliver the feedback. The risk of not paying careful attention to the details is a 360 program that de-motivates, creates stress and anxiety and smashes your hopes of creating a more open and honest culture which encourages feedback.

There’s one quote that seems to be used widely by companies selling 360’s that 360 feedback can yield a ROI of 700%. This figure comes from some research by Spencer and Morrow which they reported upon during Calculating the ROI on Competence. London, UK: Linkage Competency Conference Seminar. 2 November 1998. This is a huge claim, and is one that would be lovely to be able to guarantee. What we have found over the years is that the greatest ROI occurs when a carefully implemented 360 feedback survey is followed by ongoing support, coaching and training. 360 feedback that is implemented in isolation gives some great pats on the backs, or highlights some areas for development but may not provide the call to action or support for the individual to change their behaviours. If you goal is to create a more open and honest working environment, 360 feedback on it’s own is not enough.

Are 360s more appropriate for assessment or development or both?

360s are most commonly used for development purposes. The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly this stance tends to be the most warmly received by those involved. For those being rated it encourages buy-in to the process and an openness to the feedback messages they will receive. For those doing the rating this encourages honesty in the feedback and helps to create a sense of involvement and responsibility for the development of others.

Secondly, from the point of view of gaining accurate feedback, those doing the rating need to have had an opportunity to see the person they rating in action. With this in mind we typically recommend that someone has been in role for at least 6 months before they go through a 360 process. Using the 360 for assessment of new candidates is therefore unlikely to yield useful information.
Organisations do use 360’s to assess current employees, however the information is still mot typically used for development purposes. If it were to be used for assessment purposes our recommendation would be that it be used in conjunction with other measures such as psychometrics, role-plays, interviews or presentations.

What are the benefits of 360 degree feedback?

There are numerous benefits for running a 360 feedback survey.

For the organisation, a 360 survey offers a quick, objective means of gathering information about the performance and impact of their managers. Analysis of the results, using group reports, can provide a rich source of data for making decisions about development, succession planning, talent mobility and future recruitment. A well implemented survey helps to foster a value for open and honest feedback and communication and can reinforce the link between behaviour and performance.

For the team, 360 feedback can help to improve team communications by raising awareness of individuals’ differences. If positioned correctly it can help to build cohesion within the team and support for each others development. The impact of this is greater efficiency in the way team members work together and stronger idea generation by a team who are now better able to communicate.

For the individual they provide a unique opportunity to understand what has made them successful in the past. The 360 gives the individual the chance to get a much broader view of the impact they have within the organisation. Instead of just receiving feedback from their manager, the 360 enables them to get feedback from the people they work with. They are much more likely to take on board the key messages within the feedback as it has been received from people they truly value the opinion of. The 360 highlights an individual’s strengths and areas for development and provides the start-point for development actions. The process can help to improve engagement levels by demonstrating to the individual the value the organisation holds for them. Improved dialogue between manager and individual can also help to improve job satisfaction and motivation.

Can you benchmark performance to other organisations?

We have a wealth of data from all the organisations we have worked with over the years and can, if you require, link your statements against those in our databank in order to create benchmark data. Benchmark data is also available in our group reporting options provided our standard rating scale is used, we also use this data and extensive research to provide a Johari window data display in individual reports.

What reports do you get from doing a 360?

There are several types of individual report. A professional users report which just contains the graphs and tables. This would be used in a situation where an experienced facilitator would be delivering the feedback - taking the individual through the report and helping them to understand the key messages with the report. This could be used if you have a development planning document that you want the individuals to complete, or if you were creating a separate workbook to support the individual’s ongoing development. The second type of individual report is the development report. This report contains guidance and information to contextualise the information with the report. It has been designed, based on our knowledge and experience of behavioural change, to maximise the chances of the individual taking action and successfully changing their behaviours. A third type of report currently being developed is the individual coaching report. This report is tailored to the individuals needs and provides tips, advice and questions to help the individual to improve their performance.

What timeframes do you give people to complete a 360?

Typically we’d recommend giving delegates a week to make their nominations and their nominees a two week window to provide their feedback.

Who should be the respondents?

Aside from their own rating, and their line manager, the other respondents groups should include: direct reports and colleagues/peers. They could also include internal and or external clients and suppliers.

What are the common concerns that people have about 360's?

The common concerns about 360s include scepticism about the intentions behind their use. In some organisations employees are concerned that the information gathered will be used as a stick to beat. Careful positioning is therefore crucial and the intentions must be explicitly stated and repeated to ensure that the message is understood.

Sometimes people are concerned that their colleagues and direct reports won’t give honest feedback, or won’t be able to provide feedback. The first issue is a question of communication and encouragement of a value for open and honest feedback. The second issue is solved by ensuring that the statements used within the survey meet specific criteria for well-written statements:

• Describes what a person does, not what they have done.
• Describes what can be observed i.e. the behaviours.
• Describes only one behaviour.
• Uses language that is easy to read and understand.
• Describes a behaviour that is needed for high performance.
• Helps to articulate the competency as a whole.

Can I use our company's competency framework?

Absolutely! We’d like to review your framework with you before starting work on the survey. That way we can make sure we completely understand what you are trying to achieve, and we can also help to sense-check it to make sure you’re not missing anything crucial. Once we’ve done that we can craft statements that will really hit the mark.

Why are 360s based on competencies?

Competencies are commonly used to articulate a consistent measure of performance in areas relevant to and required by the company to achieve its goals and objectives. They provide a common language for the organisation by describing exactly what individuals need to be doing to achieve their objectives. Well-written competencies describe the behaviours, skills and knowledge that the individuals need to have. This makes them perfect for a 360 survey as the competency can be broken down into statements that can be used to evaluate and individuals current performance levels. The output of the 360 feedback provides a clear review of the individuals capability with and identifies the areas for development as well as the areas in which the individual can leverage their strengths.

How do I link 360 feedback data to personality profiles and performance data?

Many companies do use 360 feedback surveys in conjunction with personality and motivational profiling. This can add a depth and richness to the process which can really help to awaken the individuals self-awareness. Behaviour is the external manifestation of our internal drives, personal style and value. Behaviour is what is perceived by those around us, and therefore 360 feedback provides a great addition to personality and motivational profiling so the individual can understand not just the impact of their actions on others, but also why they may tend to behave the way they do.

We recommend that 360 feedback is used purely for development purposes. A number of clients use this information to help inform individuals development objectives and then monitor progress from those by way of performance. Individual scores within 360 should not be directly linked to performance as research has show that this can impact individuals confidence to provide open and honest feedback if there is any fear around how the data will be used.

How can I tell if my organisation is ready for 360 feedback?

Things to lookout for to check that your organisation is ready include: your managers are asking for more objective and constructive feedback, they are complaining about the quality of discussions they are having with their managers, there is a general appetite for development but you don’t know quite where to focus budget and time. 360 feeedback can work in any organisation and careful positioning and communication is always essential. This is particularly true in organisations that may not be used to giving and receiving feedback, perhaps where there has historically been something of a blame culture. In these cases it would be wise to pilot the scheme on a group who are more open to the process so they can be used as role-models for the rest of the organisation.

If the organisation has just gone through, or is going through major change in which lines of reporting and teams/work groups are changing, it may be wise to wait until 6 months after the change to ensure that people are able to give the program their complete attention and to ensure that nominees are able to accurately rate the 360 delegates (because they have had a good opportunity to see them at work).

How does 360 Feedback work?

360 Surveys are anonymous so respondents feel more comfortable to share their true perceptions of what the individual does well and what they might not do so well.
Feedback is given in two key ways creating a rich data source. Firstly, by rating a series of statements designed specifically to measure key behaviours and competences that are important for effective managers and leaders. And secondly, through open-ended questions that allow respondents to give their verbatim comments.
The results are collated into an easy-to-read report which enables the individual to gain a real insight into their strengths and areas for development and the impact they have on their interactions with others.

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