Leadership growth through 360° feedback

 In Articles

As leaders rise through the ranks, they tend to receive less and less honest information about themselves and their performance.The concept of constructive, honest and enabling feedback (calledFeedforward) from others can assist leaders in learning about the consequences (impact) of their behaviour and style of leading, communicating, or interacting with others. Additionally, such insights can facilitate self-awareness to consider doing some things more, less, or differently in the future, so that they can become more effective.

Most leaders don’t ask for feedback. Even if they did, people may not be as forthright or thorough in their feedback as they could be by using a 360° (multi-rater) survey. The 360° feedback option is a safe way for others to provide anonymous and honest feedback across a broad spectrum of leadership competencies and behaviours. A 360° feedback process should be used to solve real business needs. In this way, such feedback is introduced as a solution for improving leadership effectiveness and/or team building.

Some key questions to consider when determining if your culture is ready for the successful introduction and use of 360° feedback interventions include:

  • Is employee engagement high enough to support a feedback intervention?
  • Is the organisation supportive of talent development and coaching?
  • Do managers get trained, rewarded, and compensated if they act as performance coaches?
  • Do employees feel comfortable giving feedback without reprisal?
  • Has your organisation had a bad experience with a prior 360° feedback intervention?
  • Is talent motivated to use the feedback it receives for its own professional growth and development?
  • Does your organisation have resources, training, and other support in place to help talent create and implement professional development plans as a result of the feedback?
  • Will talent be held accountable to discuss the results of feedback with bosses and to create a development plan?

The following laws of 360° feedback apply to both companies and employees – prior to implementation:

  1. 360° feedback should not be a measure of performance. It provides clarity about one’s strengths and insight about potential areas for improvement and development – it measures specific behaviours and competencies associated with job performance and success, but is based on others’ perceptions.
  2. 360° feedback results must be actionable. Feedback reports should express observed behaviours that can be modified. Rated competencies should be trainable (actionable) in order to be considered a strength or development area.
  3. 360° feedback results should be used for development purposes only. It provides a process for improvement for individual or team performance only when the feedback is ongoing (sustainable) and especially when it’s combined with structured follow-up and coaching. It should not be used for hiring/firing, compensation or promotion decisions.
  4. 360° feedback must be confidential. With the exception of the manager, those being rated should not know who provided specific scores or comments.

The benefit of 360° feedback is that it provides a safe opportunity to learn how various stakeholders perceive one’s impact. This enables an opportunity to improve both formal and informal communication, create a space for more difficult performance discussions, increase self-insight and learning, encourage specific goal setting, highlight required skills and competencies associated with job performance, and improve general performance and productivity.

When conducted properly, a successful 360° feedback process has proven itself valuable to many organisations by providing insight into where people can use their strengths for development and growth.

For more information on Thornhill’s products and services for all levels within your organisation, please contact admin@thornhill.co.za.

Written by Rory van der Merwe

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