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Five Steps to Providing Effective 360° Feedback


For many companies, the beginning of the year is the time for reviewing or providing 360° feedback to employees. 360° feedback is so effective because it is designed to draw feedback from everyone around the recipient. It does, however, need to be executed correctly, and the debriefing and coaching sessions must encourage and nurture growth. Here are five steps that can help your company get the most out of 360° feedback.

1. Plan Ahead.  Put a lot of thought into your comments. Tailor them to the emotional tendencies and capabilities of the individual employee. Make sure that the recipient can understand exactly what you mean by your feedback. If your feedback isn’t delivered properly, the recipient would misinterpret the feedback.

2. Be Tactful.  Even though the responses are anonymous and confidential, don’t attack an employee’s intent or motives. Don’t blindside employees with criticism that they haven’t heard before. Avoid absolutes such as “always” and “never.” Criticism that comes across as harsh or judgmental will not have the intended effect.

3. Remember who’s in charge. While the input of others can help provide the basics, you ultimately have to base your own comments or ratings on your own experience with the employee in question. Your feedback is important; make sure that it actually is yours, and not that of others’ opinion in the workplace.

4. Answer the questions, but don’t go off-topic. A 360° feedback survey is designed to focus on specifics that have been predetermined to be relevant to the workplace. It is not designed for generalities, petty grievances, or peripheral issues. Stick to the questions and save the rest for later.

5. Give sincere feedback during the debriefing session, both positive and negative. If the employee feels that the debriefing session focuses mainly on his or her faults, he or she will not believe or absorb any of it. On the other hand, if you let the employee know what he or she does that makes them uniquely valuable to the company, they will leave the session inspired instead of resistant.

If used properly, 360° feedback can provide both employees and management with an accurate assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. When combined with ongoing coaching, effective 360° feedback can provide a baseline for professional development which, in turn, can be crucial in creating an environment of professional growth and achievement.

Ron Cacioppe

Ron Cacioppe is the Managing Director of Integral Development and holds a BSc, an MBA and a PhD. He has taught in the Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.

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