Preparing Employees for 360-Degree Feedback
If this is the first time you are using 360s in your organization, keeping the following in mind will help ensure your employees fully understand the process:
1. Clearly communicate the purpose of the 360. If the purpose is for development, let them know that these results will not be tied to any type of performance appraisal. Doing so helps ensure that raters respond openly and candidly. When 360s are used for performance appraisal, raters tend to give higher scores than normal.
Communicating these items up front leads to a successful 360 process. That, in turn, leads to both personal and organizational change.
2. Explain the process. Let people know what to expect from a process standpoint (i.e., details of administration, how to take the survey, who you will be working with, etc.).
3. Define up front (and communicate) who will see the results. In other words, let them know that the results will be confidential. Generally, 360 results are seen only by the person being rated. However, some organizations also provide the results to the employee's supervisor for developmental (not appraisal) purposes. Either way, communicate these expectations ahead of time.
4. Let raters know that their responses will be held strictly confidential. It should not be possible to identify responses by participant. In other words, responses from individuals are reported as part of a group in order to maintain anonymity. The exception to this is if an organization chooses to separate the responses of the employee's supervisor. We strongly recommend this approach, as it allows participants to see a full view of any differences in responses between different rater groups. Once again, communicate these expectations up front.
5. Communicate expectations for development. 360s are designed to be actionable. Let participants know you expect them to do something with the results—and just what that "something" is. Participants should create and share development plans based on the results. We also recommend letting them know a follow-up 360 will be done in twelve months in order for them to understand how successful they have been in their progress.
6. Did we mention the need to communicate???