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5 ways to maximise use of 360 feedback among employees

You’ve done the hard work – you scoured the marketplace for a 360 feedback provider, you chose a platform, put together a questionnaire and launched it to your stakeholders… But it’s what happens next – or rather what perhaps doesn’t – that could prove to be your biggest challenge; participation.

Fear not though, there’s lots that you (the organisation) can do to embed or reinvigorate a 360 process or tool to maximise uptake and ensure great value for all parties on an on-going basis. And to help you, we’ve summarised five areas on which to focus.

1. Clear comms, and a clear purpose

Sadly it isn’t necessarily a case of ‘if you build it, they will come’ with a 360 degree feedback programme. You have to tell people about it – in particular explaining why it is being used (what business objective is it supporting) and what will happen with the data.

And this is arguably even more important with an existing 360 appraisal where it has perhaps already been in situ for some time. Does everyone know about its existence? Are new starters/managers told about its purpose and where to find it? Do you make clear whether it is purely for development or for performance appraisal? Are you promoting its use by sharing success stories of how it has helped others?

2. Linked in?

On a related note, it’s worth considering how you use 360 internally and whether it currently links, or should link, to other programmes. So, as an example, where some of our clients have a 360 feedback platform that involves a self-registration process, the onus is very much on individuals to ‘pull’ an assessment and set it up independently. This commonly links to a personal development plan.

Elsewhere it is pretty common to have 360 as an annual process. We see this a lot where clients do this for their leadership/managerial population, which may feed in to performance assessment conversations, or be a key diagnostic part of a leadership programme (providing a measurement pre and post programme to ascertain impact).

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3. Keeping it current

You should also consider how relevant and up to date the 360 appraisal questionnaire is. Where a process has been in place for some time, the competencies or behaviours being measured can become out-dated or less relevant. Naturally this can have the knock-on (and undesirable) effect of your participants seeing less value in going through the process.

So make sure you periodically check in on what the 360 questionnaire are based on, what exactly they are measuring, and ask yourself what does this all mean to people in the business?

4. Reporting and supporting

How you support people with their report is always a crucial aspect of a 360. It can be daunting to receive 360 feedback, and the level of support available can have a huge bearing on how much value people see in the process and the outputs. And this in turn can make or break the programme’s reputation internally.

You should try to ensure that participants have the opportunity to discuss their 360 report with someone who is trained in helping with interpretation and development planning off the back of it. This will go such a long way to unlocking value for individuals, and for the business. Linked to this, we suggest (and include for some clients) development tips within the reports –this can be a great starting point for participants.

5. Creating a feedback culture

Fostering a feedback culture in your business is really important, and not only for initiatives like 360 appraisals to be effective. Building a foundation of trust is key to creating an environment where your people feel comfortable about giving and receiving feedback, and have trust in the 360 process itself.

We suggest to our clients that this all starts from the top of the organisation, with senior leaders role-modelling the openness around feedback you want to see from others or perhaps piloting the 360 process. This could even involve them opening themselves up by agreeing to share their own 360 appraisal reports, or talk about their plans off the back of the feedback they received.

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