The benefits are many.
Self-awareness. From our experience in applying feedback tools you can often see when the subject has an objective self-awareness. The self-profile and that of the respondents are very much aligned both in highlighted relative strengths and also in highlighting relative weaknesses. For us having a well-designed and structured de-briefing process is very important as it is often the individuals who need the feedback who fail to see it. Having someone to prompt discussion of important feedback is important for helping the person to see and reflect on it. Equally some individuals are prone to seeing and highlighting the relatively negative and again it is important to have a de-briefing process where they are prompted to see a more balanced view.
Confirmation. In the absence of other feedback a 180° or 360° tool can be quite powerful in confirming to us that yes we are doing a good job. Yes one expects that these days every individual should know this particularly from their manager but we have yet to find the organisation which has a perfect set of manager/subordinate performance relationships. Some people also need more confirmation in addition to that provided by their manager to feel secure in their role.
Confirming strengths. A definite benefit of a 180° or 360° process is to help the individual confirm their strengths. Marcus Buckingham (“Now put your strengths to work” and “Go put your strengths to work”) has established himself as the leading authority on building on strengths. The argument he persuasively presents is that it is much easier to significantly increase impact and personal productivity by building on strengths than by tackling relative weaknesses which require significantly more effort to achieve a very limited improvement.
Identifying gap areas. Gap areas in two senses. Things we may not even be aware of. We may consider ourselves to be very effective in communicating and guiding our team members. However the feedback may tell us that they don’t see it quite the same way and that we are not as fluent as we think we are. Equally we may be aware of the gap in our skill set and the feedback can help us to calibrate how important it is and the relative value in doing something about it.
Focus for development or growth. A great benefit for a 180° or 360° process is that it provides the individual with a platform for growth. It is providing valuable feedback and with careful coaching can help the individual to target and execute personal development that helps him or her to be even more effective and productive.
Providing a benchmark. Applying and re-applying the process over the right time sequence can help the individual to confirm that he or she is making progress. But keep in mind that as the population becomes more mature in giving feedback through a 180° or 360° process ratings can actually be relatively less positive as the level of honesty increases and the level of “not wanting to upset” decreases. This is another reason why it is important to have trained coaches supporting the de-briefing process.
Benefits for the organisation
There are also benefits for the organisation.
Feedback culture. Installing a 180° or 360° process can be a strong signal for helping to promote a culture of feedback. It is one element in signaling that people are expected to receive and act on feedback and that others are expected to give feedback.
Real development needs. Having a feedback process that involves a range of people around an individual giving feedback also supports addressing real development needs as opposed to development wants expressed by individuals. The output from the feedback report and the conclusions can lead to a better definition of the individual development needs.
Personal growth and productivity. Most people are keen to do a good job. So the feedback is a spur to them wanting to develop and have an increased impact. It is important that the feedback process is anchored in a context where support is available to help the individuals grow so that the organisation reaps the full benefit of the process.
Alarm bells. A spin off of the process is that it can flag potential problem areas. Relationship breakdowns between managers and subordinates or between managers and their teams can be very visible in the feedback report. Thus it is important that the target of the report expects to share the feedback with his or her manager so that there is a safety valve for addressing this information. It is important that this is very clear from the beginning of the process and that the individuals and all participating are aware of this.
PPI Toolbox you can tap into
At PPI we have developed a range of 360° tools. Some we have developed for specific leadership programs to provide feedback on specific the specific leadership behaviour expected in the specific client organisation. Some we have developed to provide feedback on specific skill sets such as coaching or internal consulting.
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