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Getting Buy-In for the 360 Process

First, let’s define 360-degree assessments/feedback. 360’s are a multi-source assessment where feedback on a variety of areas – such as performance on the job, managing others, collaborating effectively, etc. – is provided from a variety of individuals who are familiar with the employee’s work. This includes staff members of the employee, the employee’s peers, the employee’s direct supervisor and others.

While 360’s can provide a tremendous amount of value for the organization and the individuals involved, if it is not done well it can cause more harm than good. When an organization already has trust issues internally, people speak up and immediately get shot back down or feedback is all about who likes you and who doesn’t- a 360 is going to do more harm than good.

In order to launch a 360 feedback processes, it is essential to get buy-in from throughout the organization. Depending on what the challenges are, this may take a bit of time to be successful. For example, if 360’s have been implemented in the past and the information was used to rid the organization of employees or people provided feedback based on how well they liked an individual, you’ll need to spend time ensuring that this does not happen again and selling to the employee base how it will be different this time around. Additionally, keep in mind that an employee’s impression of the 360 process will be influenced by their experiences at a past organization.

As another example, managers may not want to permit employees to provide feedback on their performance, believing that is not within the purview of the employee because he is a subordinate.  However, feedback must come from throughout the organization and at all levels and the information received is of tremendous value. Everyone must participate. You must sell to management why they should participate and the value to them, and also ensure they understand the perception throughout the organization if they do not participate.

Consider just some of the benefits of a 360 feedback process:

For the organization…

For the individual employee…

Supports a culture of enhanced performance

Enables for an improved understanding of strengths and development areas

Enables for improved professional development planning

Provides a perspective from throughout the organization on performance

Encourages a culture of open communication and regular feedback on performance, enables for a culture of collaboration

Enables for a better focus on professional development needs

Identifies top performers from throughout the organization

Improves team work and collaboration among employees and with managemenet

Use a variety of ways to socialize (sell, get buy-in) a 360 process in your organization,

  • All-staff or all-hands meetings
  • Individual department meetings
  • Small group meetings (individuals from a variety of departments)
    • Such as “lunch and learn” sessions
  • Meetings with managers and leaders
  • Provide information about 360’s via
    • Company newsletter
    • Internal website
    • Email

The goal of socializing 360’s is to get the individuals within the organization comfortable with the process by sharing what that process is, who will be involved, how the information will be used, etc.

If the organization has had a negative experience with 360’s in the past, it is essential to acknowledge that and have a plan on how to move forward and ensure that negative experience will not occur again.

Ensure that employees understand why a 360 is being utilized. If one has never been done in the past, suspicions are immediately raised. Whatever promises are made – e.g., information will only be provided in rolled-up summary format – are kept. Nothing will make an initiative fail quicker than if promises made are broken.

And remember to explain the benefits to both the organization and the employees. Often leaders focus on organizational benefits only and forget that the employees are concerned also about benefits to them.

Your initial communication plan should cover the following data points:

  • A definition of a 360
  • Its benefits to the organization and the employees
  • Why it is being done
  • What the process will be
  • Expected start date (give plenty of time to socialize before launching!)
  • Dates and times for upcoming meetings to share more information, answer questions, etc.

When I have socialized 360s in organizations, I look for individuals throughout the organization – at all levels – who have participated successfully in such initiatives. These are my champions to help me sell the 360 assessment within the organization.

I’d recommend also setting up a page on the organization’s internal website, or portal, in order to have a one-stop location for information related to the 360 assessment.

Abudi Consulting Group provides 360 assessments in a simpler format that enables for more usable feedback. Contact Abudi Consulting Group to learn more today.

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