Who should pick the respondents in 360 degree feedback

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They’ll pick their mates!

Whopicks the respondents/raters is another classic debate we get into when setting up an online 360 degree appraisal system.  The organisation’s culture drives much of the debate and theanswer.

Our baseline position is that the recipient should pickthe respondents. They are best placed to understand who can giveaccurate feedback on themselves and engaging them in the process iscrucial to overall success and ensuring a high response rate.

Many clients believe that recipients will pick their mates – pick people who will give them favourable ratings.  Frankly, our experience is different to this.  We find that people are (generally) looking for accurate feedback and do select a sensible and appropriate group of respondents.

Thepurpose of the 360 will be influential. If there is any link to paythen the ‘rating’ on the 360 becomes something of value outside of theintrinsic development process. The recipient has an interest in gettinghigh ‘scores’. We would recommend avoiding such a link but if it doesexist then some form of managerial review of the selected respondentsis inevitable.

But, all of our experience is that peopleapproach this from a development perspective – and actively seekbalanced feedback – as long as the systems / processes surrounding the360 are supportive and used for development rather than evaluation. Ifyou see 360 as a long-term process then even those people that in thefirst year are suspicious and load their selections with favourablecolleagues, over time they will move to selecting an appropriate mix ofcolleagues and direct reports.


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How to share 360 degree feedback results with a recipient

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At Bowland Solutions, we offer an end-to-end process in helping our clients ensure that the 360 degree appraisal cycle is successful in every way – I mentioned in my last post that it is the ‘human element’ which is of greatest importance…what do I mean by this?

I believe that it is the sharing of the feedback with the recipient which is one of the most crucial stages in the whole process – the human interaction between the recipient, and as we call them, the ‘debriefer’.

We provide training to the internal HR team in organisations to be able to conduct these 1-2-1 sessions with the recipient and this begins with clearly defining the role of the debriefer.

As a debriefer, you do not own the report, rather you are there to act as an intermediary between the report and the recipient – you are there to facilitate their understanding of the feedback and enable them to effectively act upon it.

This sounds easy and very much like common sense, but all too often we see debriefers feel that their role is to own the report, add their own judgement and opinion, and very quickly move to resolving the issues highlighted in the report.

There is much greater value in simply allowing the recipient to understand what is being said within the report, so that they own the feedback, both positive and negative, and that they come away with a balanced view.

In both helping to raise their self-awareness and enabling them to own the feedback, the recipient is far more likely to then feel responsible for undertaking any actions that are required as a result.

Once this key distinction is made on the part of the debriefer, it reduces the pressure often felt by a debriefer, particularly if they feel the feedback is negative, and ensures maximum value is derived from the appraisal process for the recipient.

A practical way for anybody sharing feedback with a recipient would be to state this intention at the beginning of the session by saying "I am simply here to ensure you understand this report".

I will follow up on this post by discussing what I feel are the key skills then to be associated with being a good ‘debriefer’.


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Online 360 degree appraisals

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Online versus paper

As a provider of online 360 degree appraisalsit will come as no surprise that we see value in moving the processaway from paper-based. If you are having to make the case for aninvestment in a 360 degree appraisal system then here is a list of what we see as thekey benefits. Some obvious, some less so.

  • Reduced administrative overload – the key reason people approach us
  • Flexibility on questionnaires – it is very simple to have subsets of questions for peers compared to direct reports, say. You could do this on paper, but I wouldn’t recommend it!
  • Able to monitor and chase progress easily
  • Higher completion rates. I’m sure someone has worked out why, but people respond to email better than they respond to paper.
  • Great flexibility on reporting – and reporting is instant
  • Reduced ongoing cost
  • Simple routes to get consolidated reports – that analyse strengths and weaknesses over a range of demographic information
  • Integrate into your performance review process – the link to performance appraisals may not be direct but the administration can easily be linked
  • Repeating the process is trivial

Frankly,for more than 10 people I would not consider a paper-based 360 process.And even for smaller numbers, solutions like our self-service 360 www.myown360.com make more sense than paper.  Bowland Solutions would of course be delighted to speak with you if you are looking to move online!


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