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This post has been contributed by Ben Egan, a consultant  with ETS. If you’d like to be a contributor, please contact us.

4 reasons that make a compelling case for 360 degree feedback by @HRTMExec

360-degree feedback (or multi-rater feedback) has long been a favoured management or leadership development tool. But, at a time when HR and L&D teams need to fight for every dollar, pound, or euro in their budget, is it really worth the investment?

The answer, I say, is a resounding ‘yes’ – and there are four good reasons why:

 

1. Enhance sales

360 degree feedback data can be used to improve the effectiveness of sales teams. Research suggests a link between people attaining positive 360 ratings and delivering strong commercial performance.

Run a 360 programme, evaluating your most successful sales teams, stores, or areas. Use this group data to analyse what this group does differently – their behaviours, skills, or traits. Then seek to replicate this winning formula by creating tailored development plans for your other teams.

 

2. Improve your managers

We all know that feedback should be a two-way process. Managers appraise employees and offer constructive feedback to develop their capability, so it surely makes sense for employees to do likewise for managers.

Encourage all managers to invite direct reports and other peers to give feedback. Make sure you include questions designed to evaluate key managerial attributes that are aligned with your strategy. This will give your managers great insights, highlighting hidden strengths and uncovering weaknesses or perception gaps. And by acting on the feedback, they’ll enhance their managerial skills.

 

3. Engage your employees

Numerous studies show that line managers play a key role in employee engagement. And, much like using 360 to evaluate and replicate what your top sales guys do, you can also do the same for managers that lead the most engaged teams.

Use engagement survey data to see which managers lead the most engaged teams and then cross-reference this with 360 feedback scores. This will enable you to identify what top performing managers are doing to engage their teams. Sharing this best practice with other managers can help to drive up engagement across the business.

 

4. Deliver your strategy

360 feedback is unique and powerful tool in helping companies to deliver a business strategy. While we’re all, to a greater or lesser extent, working in a ‘results business,’ companies are also increasingly keen to assess ways of working. They want to ensure that leaders and managers are living the company’s values and displaying core, strategically integral behaviours. They want consistency in the way their people work. 360 can be used both to measure and embed key behaviours, values, or skills.

To do this, you just have to design the 360 questionnaire in line with your business strategy or a competency framework. Not only will this ensure the 360 is highly relevant for the business in delivering the strategy, but it’ll also be more meaningful and useful for the individuals, too. They’ll know that it can help them to develop themselves and progress up the career ladder.

 

 

Ben Egan is a consultant specialising in communications strategies at UK-based HR consultancy and bespoke technology firm ETS.

ETS are experts in employee engagement, development and performance appraisal working with major global businesses including PepsiCo, Tesco and Vodafone.

www.etsplc.com

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2 comments

  1. As a young journalist doe 40 years ago, I stumbled upon 360 feedback in it’s place of origin — t Petersburg, then Leningrad. Designed by the communist trade union as a means of keeping line managers in check, its been fascinating to see how 360 has evolved and how easily it gets drawn back to those directive, controlling origins.

    Some of the lessons we’ve learned since my first experiments with 360 in Western Europe are that:
    – Generic, inflexible approaches don’t work (unless your objective is to annoy as many people as possible)
    – The more generic the system, the more it penalises good managers (who get honest feedback, because people recognise they will value it) and the more it serves the organisational sociopath (who scores better than they should, because no-one wants to cause waves, even though the survey is supposed to be anonymous)
    – 360 works best when:
    a) the recipient of feedback is in control of the process
    b) they feel the questions are relevant to their current developmental needs and focus
    c) they can select the areas, where they want and will be able to use feedback
    d) they can select people to provide the feedback, whose opinion they will value (it’s easy to dismiss feedback from people, who you don’t respect!)_
    e) they are able to go back to feedback providers with their plans for addressing issues and ask them for their continuing support and “just-in-time” feedback

    Used properly, 360 feedback is a powerful developmental tool. But the generic, policing approaches so commonly used in large organizations are time-wasting and destructive.

    • Thank you, Professor, for your comment. I think you sum up 360 feedback when you say that the recipient needs to be in control of the process. I think it works best as a development tool for the individual.