How to get over a 95% completion rate on your 360 – advice that survives

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We first published this blog post in 2007!  We have just completed a series of 360 debriefs for a US based client’s executive team and they hit a 99% completion rate which had me reflect on completion rates again.  The advice that follows is exactly as it was in 2007.

“A number of our clients approach us because they have had a poor experience with 360 feedback and yet they still see it as a tool that will offer effective feedback for their team or organisation. One of the key issues they face is that they cannot get enough people to complete the feedback.

Here are some of our hints and tips that we provide people on ensuring they hit a high completion rate.

Let me get the “you would say that, wouldn’t you” one out of the way. We recommend you put the 360 online. Bowland Solutions provides online 360 degree feedback so there is no surprise there.

Now, lets get a list of reasons why this will help and what you need to do to increase that feedback rate.

  • Make sure the questions, the branding, the reports, the communications are all tailored – don’t use some off-the-shelf set of questions and standard set of reports. People spot quickly that this is not quite right for them.
  • Keep the questions limited to just what you need to get the feedback required. As a rule of thumb, something like 30 questions is often right. [Note, the client described above had 32 questions]
  • Keep the numbers giving feedback to a sensible amount
  • Watch out for the peer group – they often have the most feedback to give.
    • Limit to 3 peers per recipient
    • Consider asking the peers a subset of the questions
  • Communicate why this is a good thing
  • Give people enough time to complete – we recommend 3 weeks
  • If you can – make the recipient the person in control of the process. That way they will chase down their respondents for you.
  • Chase them by email
  • Chase them by email again
  • Phone them

We hit 95% completion feedback rates – not every time, but often enough to know that it is readily achievable.”

Would I change any item of that advice?  I would probably reduce the number of questions further again and add narrative questions in their place.  For the recent executive group there was a general willingness to complete the feedback as they were the most senior people in their respective organisations – for lower level groups I would look to reduce to nearer 20 rating questions if possible.

 

Brendan

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