Starting the development process with 360 Feedback

We have discussed in a number of posts why 360 degree feedback is effective in evaluating leadership at all levels of an organization. The assessment itself is a great way to identify strengths, weaknesses and areas in need of improvement for the focal leader being evaluated. The assessment is anonymous, and gives the focal participant an opportunity to review themselves against how their direct reports, managers, peers, etc. see them, making it a more accepted assessment in the eyes of the person being assessed. With multiple perspectives there is greater acceptance of the results which in turn leads to more likelihood of development occurring.  And remember, 360 degree feedback shouldn’t stop with the evaluation and generation of the feedback report.  In fact, the feedback report is the beginning of the development process for the focal leader. 

Top 6 reasons why 360 degree feedback is a highly effective tool:


1. Provides assessment data to measure progress

“Is the development we are having our leaders go through working?”  This is a common question that companies should be attempting to answer all the time.   The 360 survey and report help answer this question explicitly.  An initial 360 report provides a baseline of a leader’s current performance.   The initial report also outlines and helps the leader prioritize development.  After the leader has engaged in development work a 360 survey can be readministered to show exactly where performance gains occurred or didn’t occur.  These gains can subsequently be quantified to help show a significant return on investment. 

2. Provides a clear roadmap for development priorities

The 360 feedback report is a rich source of information that will assist the focal leader in understanding true development needs.  The feedback report allows for a focal leader to identify the underlying reasons behind each of the ratings provided in the report. The report provides feedback at a competency and behavioral level that pinpoint where the focal leader will get their biggest return on investment for their development work and activities. In other words, each leader going through the 360 process gets an individualized development plan which is specific to their unique needs.

3. Growing leadership skills leads to increased organizational success

An organization’s greatest asset is their people. By having the best possible performers in leadership positions, companies will beat their competition every time. Unfortunately, not all hires are perfect to begin with. Therefore, development of talent needs to happen post hire, and the more development that occurs the better off a company will be. When companies invest in their people’s growth, it leads to better performance which in turn leads to better organizational performance. In other words when organizations are able to increase their individual and team effectiveness there is a direct impact on the organization’s bottom line.

4. Company culture improvement

One of the top three reasons why employees leave an organization is always the lack of developmental opportunities.  When 360 feedback surveys are used to assess a team of leaders it shows the company cares about development and it promotes the idea of learning on the job. The 360 feedback tool stands out as a consistent method for building trust within an organization. It does this by showing the company cares about everyone’s opinion and is willing to take steps to improve. It all starts at the top, and in order to get the full effectiveness of 360 feedback on development, it must be messaged correctly from leadership as to why the organization is going through this 360 process and how it will benefit the team as a whole. When messaged correctly, the benefits start before the process has even begun because it shows how much the organization cares for its people. 

5. Improves the effectiveness of more than just the leader.

The impact of the leader on the entire team is tremendous.  No one person has more of an impact on an organization than their leader.  The 360 feedback process identifies behaviors that will improve the individual leaders performance.  This in turn has a significant impact on those that report to that leader, as well as his or her peers.  In other words, major benefit of the 360 process is that it makes it easier for the focal participant to communicate effectively with his or her team and therefore leads to improved teamwork. Better teamwork leads to greater productivity and again, leads to a more successful organization.

6. Helps ensure that development occurs on the job.

The old saying of, “If you can’t measure it then don’t do it” and “what gets measured gets paid attention” couldn’t be truer than when speaking about development programs for employees. Too often if people are left up to their own development it never happens.  If an organization is not rewarding development activities, then most people don’t have the intrinsic motivation or desire to do the “extra work” it takes to improve.  The beauty of the 360 feedback tool and why it is so effective is that it provides an easy means for companies to hold their leaders accountable for development activities.  The resulting individual development plan can be evaluated for quality.  The activities on that development plan can be monitored for completion, and as we discussed in point 1 above, the 360 can be used to measure progress of development and quantify that development did occur.

As you can see, there are many reasons why 360 feedback is an effective developmental tool.  360 feedback has many more benefits beyond just developing an individual. Be sure to plan accordingly when you implement 360 surveys in your organization allowing plenty of time and resources to make the development process as good as possible.

Related Resource: 360 Feedback: Your Complete Guide

Related Blog Post: Kickstart Sales and Leadership Development with 360 Feedback