Companies are constantly trying to find ways to improve their performance and ratings. Whether it’s through training, new policies, better communication methods, or new digital customer experience management solutions, there’s always something more that can be done. Surveys and questionnaires are two methods for informing what needs to change (or stay the same).
360-degree feedback is a data-generating method that is more holistic than traditional feedback forms. Instead of focusing on simply employees or customers, 360-degree feedback gathers data from a whole host of different stakeholders.
When you think of a “360”, you’d be forgiven if your mind goes straight to pro skater Tony Hawk and his mind-bending flips. And if you’re under the age of 25, you’d be forgiven for not understanding that reference at all. So what is 360-degree feedback? Essentially, it’s a tool to provide feedback to team leaders and managers from a wide range of sources and stakeholders: employees, colleagues, clients, and suppliers.
360-degree feedback is a good way to get a well-rounded view of the performance of a team or individual from a variety of people at regular intervals. It’s like a tasting platter, if you will, to see how things are going from a bunch of different perspectives.
Now that we’ve covered what 360-degree feedback is, we’ll delve into five steps for implementing a 360-degree feedback strategy.
The first thing you should do is define exactly what it is you want feedback on. Do you want to know what folks think about how you implemented a series of new hybrid cloud architectures? Are you interested in getting feedback about the management styles employed at your office? What specifically about your performance are you interested in learning more about?
When you figure out exactly what it is you want to know, you can then start the next stage which consists of phrasing questions. Make sure that any questions are clear, so include an average order value definition if any of your questions include AOV, for example.
You also need to decide whether you want to have open-ended questions and gather more qualitative data, or a rating system with quantitative data. Qualitative data might give you more in-depth information about specific issues and offer new insights, whereas quantitative data is a little more restrictive but easier to plot on a graph or chart.
The stage after this is assembling your questionnaire or survey. You can use free tools which have certain limitations, like Survey Monkey which has extra paid features, or you can use in-house software for this purpose. Whichever you choose, just make sure it complies with your company’s security standards.
Leaders, managers, and other key stakeholders should be involved in the decision-making processes around the survey. They should be included in deciding the aim of the survey, how questions are posed, and how to implement any necessary changes (as well, of course, as being involved in interpreting the data).
You want to avoid creating a survey just for the sake of it and make sure that the time and effort you put in isn’t lost on shots in the dark. Your survey should be based on what the company needs and on past feedback, so if you want to know what people think about your new conference calling online system and how you handled installing it, include that.
By keeping the survey relevant to your company and where it currently stands, you can ensure that any feedback received will be helpful and easier to put into action than any irrelevant or frivolous data.
Confidentiality is essential for a whole bunch of reasons. Firstly, it’s the only ethical way to conduct workplace surveys in order to ensure the well-being of all survey respondents. Secondly, emphasizing the fact that the survey is anonymous is likely to encourage more people to respond, with less employee ghosting.
Thirdly, an anonymous survey allows people to be more honest since they won’t face negative repercussions for disagreeing with the boss. While it isn’t necessarily the case that people would face harassment and psychological consequences in the workplace for being honest, the fear of this outcome is enough to hinder an honest reply. So, confidentiality is a must.
A good place to focus your 360-degree feedback plan is on team development. Getting feedback about how to improve as a team will help you more than if you focus on just management styles. Teamwork makes the dream work, as the cheesy saying goes.
Make sure to share the results of your 360-degree feedback survey with your whole team, as well as anyone else who would benefit from it, and create a plan about how you will implement the feedback as a team.
Since 360-degree feedback is designed to collect data from a variety of people within a company, it’s important that you take the data and know-how to strategically act upon it. You can ask any data broker in your team to collate the data in a way that’s easy to understand and get your policy team together for a tete-a-tete to create sound adjustments to existing policies, as well as brand new policies if needed.
It would also be a great idea to write a report for your company, highlighting the results of the survey as well as specific actions that will be taken to address any issues that were brought to your attention.
Sharing your report with anyone involved in the survey is a good way to thank them for participating and show that you take their opinions to heart.
When done correctly, 360 feedback provides many advantages to employees across the entire organization, from the newest hire all the way up to the CEO. Yep, that’s right – even the young Gen Z in the workplace gets a boost. Advantages often look something like this:
The 360-degree feedback method isn’t perfect in every way, however. Some of the drawbacks include:
The 360-degree feedback method is a great way to put a finger on the pulse of an organization and see how things are going from a variety of different perspectives. After all, everyone has a unique point of view that they can add to the table and this is a good way to even get customers to leave reviews.
To make 360 a success, however, the survey needs to be well-thought-out and co-created, or at least informed, by the heads of the organization. It should also have a specific aim and be based on previous years’ work and feedback.
There should be a clear context for the survey, with clear, sharable outcomes. The aim should always involve improving how the team operates, and the survey should be totally confidential for both secure business communications and to elicit honest responses from respondents.
With a well-defined 360-degree feedback system in place, you and your team are paving the way for increased awareness, boosted confidence among colleagues, and empowered leaders and employees.
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform offering cloud PBX for small business and enterprises for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. She has written for domains like AirDroid and Shift4Shop. Here is her LinkedIn.