According to Forbes, lack of a follow-up plan and the infrequency of follow-up activities account for two out of seven reasons why 360 reviews fail. So how can you, as HR, prevent this from happening? Of course, it’s natural for you to want your performance management process to be successful on all accounts: not just for you, but also so that employees derive value from it.
Managers are best placed to do the follow-up after a 360 and ensure clear next steps are defined, as they work with each of their team members on a daily basis. A manager wears several hats in a 360 performance review: that of a trusted advisor, an understanding coach, a well-intentioned supervisor and a continuous learner. They don’t play all the roles at once, but they are equally important to the success of the review.
When people become managers for the first time, it’s not always easy to know what the best practices are, which is why we’ve outlined four steps below so managers and everyone in their can benefit from 360-degree feedback.
The 1:1 conversation, be a trusted advisor
Shortly after a 360 performance review finishes, managers should set-up a 1:1 conversation with each team member. It’s important for them to discuss the review together, get their impressions and understand more about how they experienced it.
Here are some questions managers can ask:
How do you feel after reviewing the feedback you received from the 360 performance review?
Was any of it a surprise?
What, in your opinion, would have helped to prevent the surprise?
Based on the feedback you received, where would you most like to focus your efforts over the next few months?
Did you feel comfortable receiving feedback from your peers?
How did you feel giving feedback about your colleagues?
Was it more challenging for you to give feedback to a certain person? If so, can you describe the reasons?
What can I do to support you, both to develop professionally and in sharing feedback with others on the team?
They’re trying to get a pulse of how the team feels about the 360 review, particularly if this is the first time they have taken part in one. At the same time, managers should help individual team members, pointing them in the right direction.
For example if a team member found a piece of feedback unfair or unclear, managers might suggest they reach out to the feedback giver for clarification, or even set up a meeting between the three of them to discuss it openly.
As for the 360 performance review itself, by gathering information on the team’s experience, managers can help you fine tune and improve it as you go along. Understand what parts of it people find helpful and why, or if, on the contrary they consider it a waste of time, try to understand what parts of the process are holding them up.
The action plan: be an understanding coach
After the 1:1 conversation, teams should be better aligned about the process and its outcomes. The next step is for managers to take time to set goals with each team member.
This time they’re wearing the “coach hat” by guiding team members through the process of identifying areas for improvement, their path for professional development, and a specific course of action to help them get there.
Through regular 1:1 conversations, managers can understand what their direct reports are looking to achieve, and which skills they want to focus on developing. Their role as a manager is also to ensure people’s desires for professional development are aligned with overall team or departmental goals, and have a clear link to what they can contribute to the organization.
The action plan the employee walks away with should be one they co-constructed with their manager. To ensure each team member is on track, they can set goals within your performance management platform. Each goal can be broken down into milestones over a certain period of time, so that the steps are manageable.
After setting goals together, managers should regularly check-in on progress and discuss what might be blocking individuals from reaching their goals.
Follow-up: be the well-intentioned supervisor
As managers schedule 1:1s with team members, they should make sure to follow through, only canceling a meeting in case of an emergency. Otherwise it can give the impression that they don’t care or that the professional development of their team members is not high on their priority list.
The 1:1s don’t have to have an agenda and focus specifically on the goals set together, they can also be informal conversations that help managers gage how an employee is feeling. This shows that they care, all while keeping them up-to-date on any obstacles people might be encountering.
It’s extremely important for managers to avoid nagging or micro-managing when it comes to people’s progress, a manager’s role is to be supportive as opposed to adding pressure. When they notice improvement, they should offer timely praise and reinforcement so people understand they are on the right path.
If managers see someone struggling they can offer support, for example saying: “Are there any obstacles that I am not aware of? Is there anything you’re finding more difficult to implement as opposed to what you expected? Is there anything I can help with?”
The self-assessment: be a learner
Whilst of the above is heavily focused on managers supporting their team, they themselves also need to develop. It can be helpful for them to fill out a self-assessment, reflecting on their actions so they can continue to support their team as best as possible. Here are three areas to consider:
Process: Are they initiating 1:1s at the right time, with the correct frequency? Did they cover all important points in the feedback session? How did they handle the meeting to develop action plans?
Relationship: What is their style of communication and is it being well received? What is the level of trust between them and the recipients? Are they balancing the right amount of support with supervision?
Results: What are the changes? What is the difference between expectations and progress?
Ensure your managers are also continuously learning and improving, as a way to set the example for the rest of the team. They can also ask for feedback from their direct reports to gage how they feel about the process.
The 1:1 conversations, action plan meetings, follow-ups and self-assessment reinforce the ongoing nature of constructive feedback. They help integrate 360-feedback events into a wider culture of continuous feedback at your organization, and help foster growth among teams. Do not stop the process of learning right after a 360 performance review, set your managers up for success by teaching them how to do a proper follow-up after the review.