I have recently been putting together a short introductory document to our 360 degree feedback debrief service, which promisingly now supports most of our client 360 programmes, although it wasn’t always that way.
We have advocated face-to-face debriefs for many years, in particular the idea that the recipient would see the report for the first time during this debrief, and have been encouraged by the growing acceptance that it is this conversation which really makes 360 feedback successful for all parties concerned.
In our mind, we see the reasons to have a debrief are that it:
- Helps the recipient understand what the feedback is really saying to them
- Helps them accept that there is information they need to pay attention to
- Identifies any areas where they need to take action as a result of the feedback.
- Ensures they retain a balanced view of the feedback and don’t focus solely on the negative
- Challenges defensiveness, excessive self-criticism, over-optimism where necessary
- Offers support in a process which can be unfamiliar to them
As I drafted the first version of this document, I requested feedback from some individuals who had personally experienced a debrief, so I could include it and provide further evidence of the value people clearly derived from this part of the process; their comments thankfully aligned with many of the benefits we firmly believed were being realised:
- You brought perspective, colour and guidance on how to properly interpret what people are saying below the surface. I found the debrief to be a key ingredient to making the process something I could relate to.
- I really appreciated the 360 debrief. You had a personable approach which created a pleasant atmosphere and allowed for an open discussion; most importantly, you ensured that I really explored the feedback and didn’t jump to conclusions too quickly.
- You helped me not just look back at my strengths and development opportunities, but more importantly, look forward to think about my future potential in this business.
- I found the debrief process really useful. I believe that if I had just been handed the responses I would have interpreted them in one way; however, you gave a different and very useful perspective on them.
Notwithstanding the small trumpet blowing above, it does underline the message that a debrief offers individuals the opportunity to take a step back, better understand their feedback, view it through different perspectives and connect some dots.
If ‘feedback is a gift’, then just like at Xmas time, you shouldn’t just receive the gift, hurriedly open the wrapping, look at it briefly and move onto the next present; rather you should open it slowly, appreciate what’s inside and take a moment before moving on. It’s a far richer experience.