360 Degree Feedback Surveys: 5 Best Practices

360 degree feedback people in a circleA robust 360° feedback survey can bring a host of benefits to a business. Not least improving retention, increasing employee engagement and ultimately, increasing the productivity of employees.

However, even the most advanced 360 degree feedback mechanism, reporting on the most detailed metrics can fail to deliver results. Both the design and implementation of a successful 360 degree feedback survey needs a great deal of thought and planning, well in advance.

It’s during this planning stage that many organisations can benefit from external help with developing the system and agreeing the metrics which should be measured. An external consultant will have developed and interpreted hundreds and thousands of surveys. They will be in a great position to advise on the effectiveness of any measure and how well that metric can predict an outcome. Whether you choose to design and implement surveys in-house or use external help, there are a number of best practices which will help you to get the most from this opportunity.

1. Use the results

It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many organisations go to the trouble of designing and rolling out feedback systems, only for all the valuable data to go to waste. It’s important to plan, from the outset, how you will act on the results. What systems will you have in place to address any needs that become apparent? How will you build on the strengths of individuals and teams? All too often 360 degree feedback systems fail to deliver as they’re treated as a box ticking exercise, and a mere nod towards employee engagement.

2. Make it culturally fit

Ensure that any language in the survey fits with the culture of the organisation and does not seem alien to employees. Unfamiliar language can appear threatening and undermine trust in the validity of the data. Equally, the roles and responsibilities covered in the survey should be an exact representation of those of the organisation. If employees feel that they’re being asked to complete a poorly thought out ‘off-the-shelf survey’ you will struggle to get buy-in. If the survey reflects the language, values and structure of an organisation accurately, they are far more likely to be engaged.

3. Focus on strengths

A good 360 degree feedback survey primarily focuses on identifying strengths, rather than highlighting weaknesses. Perhaps surprisingly, people are far more likely to volunteer their weaknesses, rather than their strengths. The comparative rarity of this information makes it far more valuable. Although the process should identify weaknesses that need to be taken seriously and addressed, identifying and leveraging strengths often proves far more beneficial to the business.

4. Follow up

One of the most important elements of a successful 360 degree feedback survey is following up on the reports at an individual level. Feedback providers should be trained in the process and be sensitive, respectful and above all, constructive. Following up will help tailor the results to each individual and their relevant job role. Results should be communicated in such a way that the member of staff understands how the data is being used to create a personal development plan.

5. And repeat

A 360 degree feedback survey should never be a one-off exercise and should be administered frequently. By evaluating performance over time, you provide staff with a benchmark for development and a real motivation to improve performance. Subsequent surveys should incorporate valid feedback from staff, received during previous surveys. This helps to build confidence in the system and ultimately gain far more accurate results.

What 360 degree survey best practices have helped you get great results? We’re fascinated by this vital aspect of business success so do get in touch for more in depth discussion with us about your own employee engagement.