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.