Getting the Most Out of 360-Degree Reviews.

Online and interview-based 360-degree reviews can be extremely valuable tools. They bring together insights from a range of coworkers, often illuminate an executive’s blind spots, and give colleagues a way to weigh in on and support the individual’s development.

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Getting the Most Out of 360-Degree Reviews.
Getting the Most Out of 360-Degree Reviews

Online and interview-based 360-degree reviews can be extremely valuable tools. They bring together insights from a range of coworkers, often illuminate an executive’s blind spots, and give colleagues a way to weigh in on and support the individual’s development.

But these tools are only effective if the feedback is kept confidential, respondents are encouraged to be candid, and everyone is transparent about the purpose behind the 360. Whether you use an online survey or in-depth interviews conducted by an outside coach, these areas require special attention. Here’s why each is important.

Confidentiality

Coworkers can be more honest and direct knowing that their comments won’t be attributable to them, but many may worry that their responses won’t be kept confidential. With online surveys, choosing a credible vendor can re&@&@ure subjects and respondents that information will not be accessible to anyone internally. If this is the first time that the company is using the survey, HR leaders need to make it clear how confidentiality is ensured and guarded.

When 360s are done through in-depth interviews, the coach needs to &@&@ure respondents beforehand that what they say will not be relayed to the subject. When I conduct these types of interviews, I typically explain that I only give aggregate feedback to the subject and never connect a respondent’s name to a comment they made. In fact, I take care in making sure none of the feedback is attributable. Sometimes it helps to re&@&@ure respondents that I’m experienced in dealing with 360 subjects who try — sometimes with great subtlety — to find out which respondent said what.

Candor

When using online survey vendors, HR needs to make sure the instructions cover how important it is for respondents to be candid and not worry about wounding subjects’ self-esteem. The expectation should be that people are direct and open while ensuring their comments are productive. It’s rare for respondents to be overly critical or inappropriate in their remarks since comments of those nature can often be attributable to specific people.

With interview-based 360s, coaches should also emphasize the need for candor. In my interviews, I point out that candid feedback is the only way to really help the company and the individual. And I &@&@ure respondents that I convey feedback to subjects in a way that helps them understand and digest it without feeling attacked or devalued.

It’s also worth noting that people are generally tougher than we &@&@ume — and that even inaccurate perceptions can be useful if they cause subjects to take a new look at their behaviors. Most of us can probably remember an occasion when we were wrongly characterized by someone, and yet, paradoxically, it led to valuable self-reflection.