The beauty of 360-degree feedback is that it encourages each team member to help each other develop further. Both the recipients and feedback providers play important roles in the success of a 360 review. If it's your first time taking part in this type of review process you may be wondering how you can make the most out of the feedback you give and receive. Here are some pointers to get you started:
When You Receive Feedback
So you've just received feedback from your peers and managers. In principle, this is the time for you to gather great advice on ways you can grow and develop.
In reality, what you're likely to face is an avalanche of comments and opinions based on various observations and interpretation. In the best scenario, you'll get similar actionable feedback from all sources. Unfortunately, you'll often find a lot of variety and contradiction in the feedback you receive.
So what do you do? What's the best way to understand and convert your results into an effective action plan?
Here is step-by-step guide you can use to break down your feedback and start working on improvements:
First of all, you need to accept the feedback for what it is. Often 360-degree feedback will be anonymous, unless a the feedback provider chooses to reveal their identity. You may be tempted to guess who gave you positive, and who gave you constructive, feedback. However, you have to overcome this temptation. Your focus should be on what's being said, not who said it.
Keep both your curiosity and your emotions in check. Even if you feel like some feedback is unfair or simply wrong, don’t get emotional. At this stage, you should not try to think of the reasoning behind it. What you should do here and now is simply record what is said.
2. Spot patterns
Take a step back to look at the big picture. At this stage, you want to note down the most common patterns in your feedback. For example, 8 out of 10 respondents noticed that you're a great multi-tasker. More than half said you allocate your time well for each task and regularly meet deadlines. These patterns suggest you have good time management skills. Look for patterns like these and note them down. This will give you a great overview of your competencies and a general direction in which you can grow your skills.
There is a possibility that you will find some outliers - one or two people who say the opposite about a certain skill or behavior of yours. You shouldn't worry about those for now, leave them for the next step.
3. Take a deeper look
Now is the time for you to develop a better understanding of each piece of feedback. This step is very important because it will help you learn more about how others perceive your actions and how it impacts the workplace. So, dig in. Read between the lines. Take out your measurement tape. Compare A to B, and B to C. Basically, you want to do whatever it takes to understand more about other peoples’ perceptions of your behaviors and skills.
For each piece of feedback, you should start by separating objective observations, and judgements and interpretations. Let’s use an example to illustrate this:
“You were quiet during a meeting with a client last week. I think you should be more assertive in order to become a better sales rep."
Saying you were quiet is an objective observation. Saying you were not assertive is an interpretation of your actions. You probably have a different explanation for your actions. Maybe you knew the client very well and knew that she likes to feel in control of the deal. It can also be the case that they were right and you felt intimidated to speak up and provide your input.
The point here is that by separating data and interpretation, you can better understand where the feedback is coming from. Whether you agree or disagree with the feedback, having a better understanding will always help.
Unfortunately, not all feedback is clear. Sometimes people will forget to give a specific example or clear explanation of what they're referring to. If you're having a hard time thinking of a situation in which you may have displayed this kind of behavior, seek clarification. If you know who it came from, suggest having a 1-on-1 conversation to discuss the feedback further. If it's feedback you received anonymously, send them a message asking for more information. Impraise allows feedback recipients and providers to start a conversation while continuing to stay anonymous.
Don’t forget to compare the feedback in this 360-degree report with other feedback you’ve received in the past and with your self-assessment. If there are gaps, now is the time to think of reasons. By gaining a better understanding of your feedback, you can avoid falling into the emotion trap.
4. The roadmap
In the fourth step, you want to specify a roadmap for personal development.
Let's say you've been told you're great at giving useful feedback. What can you do with this valuable teamwork skill? To put this skill to best use you could commit yourself to participating in more team brainstorming sessions or collaborative tasks. But first ask yourself:
Are these activities significant for your current role?
Will they benefit your career path?
This is the flow of questions you should ask in order to narrow down a few relevant skills. You may want to be overly ambitious and work on developing all your skills at once, but it's better to focus one at a time.
Finally, you need to make an actionable plan and start working on it TODAY.
When You Give Feedback
When you're the one giving feedback, what do you need to know?
It's important for feedback providers to remember two things:
Firstly, the purpose of your feedback is to help your colleague improve. Think more about coaching and appreciation, and less about evaluation.
Secondly, great feedback does NOT only focus on weaknesses. I can’t stress this point strongly enough: You are actually helping more when you focus on your colleague’s strengths.
Not everyone is a natural at giving feedback. It takes real skill to become comfortable giving constructive feedback that your colleagues will accept. Since getting your work mates to trust your advice is the key to creating a successful team, it's essential that you learn the tools that will help you give great actionable feedback. Ask for coaching from your managers before you participate in a 360 review. In the mean time, here is a simple formula for giving constructive feedback.
Constructive feedback = Situation + Behavior + Impact + Next
Click here to learn more about each component of the formula, so you can give feedback the right way. Want to become an expert on giving feedback? Check out this article tolearn more about reasoning, time, space and appropriate feedback behaviors.
A 360 review is well worth spending time and effort on because it can bring personal growth, team development and the improvement of the whole company. However, it's not easy to do 360 reviews right. On one hand, feedback recipients need to understand the feedback they receive and how they can develop it into an action plan. On the other hand, feedback providers need to learn how to give feedback constructively. These are not easy skills to master, so coaching is important. However, the results are something worth working for.
Photo by Galymzhan Abdulgalimov