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What is 360 survey best practice? (part 2)

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

A review of 360 research shows that when best practice approaches are used 360 programmes can lead to increased self-awareness and improved performance (e.g. Fleenor, Taylor and Craig, 2008).

However, when done poorly, 360-degree feedback programmes can lead to disengagement and a reduction in performance (Nowack & Mashihi, 2012).

In the final part of this two-part blog we build upon how you can design and communicate a 360 survey and focus on how you can designate 360 raters and how to give effective feedback.

3. How to designate the 360 raters

  • Raters must be credible to the participant, and it can help to involve the participant in choosing their own raters to increase accuracy. (Nowack & Mashihi, 2012)
  • Raters should be promised anonymity (although it’s unlikely the line manager will have anonymity). Therefore consider the minimum numbers of raters in each group to ensure anonymity in the 360 report – you may need to groups together where there are less than 3 raters in a group. (Gray et al, Best Practice Guidelines)
  • Choose a big enough number of raters so that ratings are not skewed by one person. (Gray et al, Best Practice Guidelines)
  • Research suggests overall to aim for a high a number as possible overall and within each rater group, to achieve a critical mass of meaningful feedback. (Nowack & Mashihi, 2012)

Gray, A., Lewis, A., Fletcher, C., Burke, E., Mackay, J., Kubelius, E., & Lindley,P. (2006). 360-degree feedback: Best practices guidelines. (From British Psychological Society website)
Nowack, K.M. & Mashihi, S. (2012) Evidence-based answers to 15 questions About Leveraging 360-Degree Feedback. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 64, No 3, 157-182

4. How to give the 360 feedback

  • Provide feedback as soon as possible and communicate timings at the start of the process. (Gray et al, Best Practice Guidelines)
  • Don’t provide a 360 report ‘cold’, without facilitated feedback support, just before a holiday or a weekend as this could have negative consequences. (Gray et al, Best Practice Guidelines)
  • Having a facilitator interpret the report and go through it with the individual is vital to ensure a ‘greater transfer of learning and goal setting’ (Nowack & Mashihi, 2012; Smithier et al, 2002) and leads to the largest levels of behaviour change (Gray et al, Best Practice Guidelines)
  • Some sensitivity will be required in feeding back the results and comments, and ideally this would be done by trained facilitators (Gray et al, Best Practice Guidelines; Nowack & Mashihi, 2012)
  • Once you have decided and communicated who will have access to the ratings / 360 report, this must be strictly adhered to. Later releasing the results to other parties for other purposes is one of the biggest causes of a break down in trust in the 360 process. (Gray et al, Best Practice Guidelines)
  • In an open company culture, individuals could be encouraged to talk to their raters to gain more understanding about the meaning of the feedback and to spark development discussions. (Gray et al, Best Practice Guidelines)
  • Be aware of individual (personality) differences in how willingly people accept the feedback. (Nowack & Mashihi, 2012)
  • When working multi-nationally, be attuned to how cultural differences may impact on rating gaps between the target individual and their raters, and how these gaps should be interpreted. (Nowack & Mashihi, 2012)

Gray, A., Lewis, A., Fletcher, C., Burke, E., Mackay, J., Kubelius, E., & Lindley,P. (2006). 360-degree feedback: Best practices guidelines. (From British Psychological Society website)
Nowack, K.M. & Mashihi, S. (2012) Evidence-based answers to 15 questions About Leveraging 360-Degree Feedback. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 64, No 3, 157-182
Smithier, J.W., London, M., Flautt, R., Yvette, V.,& Kucine, I. (2003). Can working with an executive coach improve multisource feedback ratings over time? A quasi-experimental field study. Personnel Psychology, 56 (1) 23–44

To learn more about our new Acuity 360 feedback tool that is based on our Acuity for Strategic Sales model which identifies the 9 key capabilities required for salespeople to be successful in complex, strategic sales roles, just click here.

Sarah Clapperton is a Director at Bloojam Consulting and a Chartered Occupational Psychologist with 20 years experience working in selection and development. She now specialises in working with leaders and senior sales people.