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Using 360-Degree Feedback To Kick-Start Positive Change

21/06/2016 1:19 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
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"We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve." - Bill Gates

We all know that self-awareness is the first step in creating a profound change or improvement in oneself. While reflecting on our own actions and behaviours is necessary to build self-awareness, discovering what others think about us can also be extremely useful. The corporate world is aware of this, which is why 360-degree feedback is a popular assessment mechanism used by many companies.

Many organizations have developed their own 360-degree feedback tool that is aligned with their organizational culture, while others adopt protocols developed by consulting companies.

The shortest English word that you can create using all the letters from the first six letters of the alphabet -- ABCDEF -- is probably FEEDBACK. And that is what a 360-degree report gives you. A quick refection on a 360-degree report, in fact, can be the shortest path to kick-start personal change.

A quick refection on a 360-degree report, in fact, can be the shortest path to kick-start personal change.

Most organizations use an online tool to collect feedback and generate reports, while other companies -- for the senior leadership at least -- use a consultant who may gather 360-degree information by talking to key people.

What to look for in an online tool

If you are using an online 360-degree tool and want to get maximum impact, keep in mind the following three things.

1. Make sure your 360-degree tool is well-researched and connected to your organization's culture and leadership behaviours. If you want to help your people to improve, the tool must be a good fit. There is no benefit if you apply irrelevant criteria in your assessment.

2. Make sure it not a fault-finding mechanism that just measures the gaps in your employees' performance. The tool should be strength-based and positive.

3. Make sure that someone who has expertise and experience shares the 360-degree report with your employees. They should engage in a curious and constructive dialogue that could lead to employees taking positive action.

How does a verbal 360-degree analysis work?

A verbal 360-degree feedback is usually done for senior leaders as it takes more time and resources. Experienced and trained external consultants are usually engaged for the job. This approach is more holistic and focuses on the uniqueness of a single leader. It allows more room to explore the beliefs, values and worldview of the leader and not just his or her behaviours.

You might think that people's feedback about you is just their perception. It could be true... but people treat you the way they perceive you!

One objective is to reflect back to the leader the way he or she is being perceived by their manager, peers, subordinates, internal and external customers. The other is to refract and pick out the various colours and hues from this feedback that are relevant and meaningful to the leader in a way that weaves a coherent story of his or her personality. This should equip the leader to use new insights into the self to act as a springboard for his or her future growth and personal development.

There are three things you need to keep in mind if you are planning a verbal 360 for your senior leadership team.

1. Make sure the consultant who is doing this is experienced and non-judgmental. If catching out shortcomings is perceived as the CEO's agenda, rather than it being a developmental exercise, the effectiveness will reduce.

2. The philosophical foundations on which you do this need to be appreciative, strength-based and focused on the whole person. Remember, when we improve one area of our life, other areas also get improved. Human beings are not broken pieces that need to be fixed.

3. You need to have a roadmap and be clear about what you will do after sharing the verbal 360-degree feedback with each senior leader. This cannot be an annual ritual that need to conducted and finished. One-on-one coaching, specific training programs that suit individual needs and constant support need to be planned.

You might think that people's feedback about you is just their perception. It could be true... but people treat you the way they perceive you!

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