360 in the cold light of day

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As part of the 360 degree feedback process, there is always a ‘debrief’, the moment when ideally an external party sits down with the recipient and hands over the report for them to digest their feedback for the first time.

This is the most critical part of the process, as we have said many times before; without a clear understanding of the feedback, the ability for the person to really identify  what it is they need to change in their behaviour, is severely hampered.

This mis-understanding or missed understanding can be triggered by an emotional response to what has been said. I recently had a client being debriefed by an internal coach who was so incensed by what their Line Manager had said, that they discounted the report entirely.

It became clear that in the debrief, the atmosphere had become so charged that every comment from the line manager was attributed to a ‘poor relationship’ that existed; with the internal coach being drawn into this fruitless assessment.

However, when the internal coach read through the report again, in the cold light of day, as they say, it became clear that actually the Line Manager had been both perceptive and balanced in their feedback.

This ability to step back and have a detached view of the feedback is an essential skill for any internal coach; they cannot afford to be drawn into the emotion of the moment – consequently, we advise coaches to frame the feedback to the recipient in different ways to diffuse this emotion.

Great ways to do this might be to ask what the individual would make of the feedback if it was someone else? Or if the person giving the supposed ‘negative’ comments was their best friend?

360 degree feedback is challenging at times, but with a skilled detached debrief the true value can emerge.


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