“Do people still do 360’s?”  The client who recently asked this question was genuinely surprised.  On further probing, he divulged that their organisation used to do them, lots of them, at every management level and once a year for most managers but had stopped about 5 years ago.  “It was a relief and no one has ever asked for one since. We saw huge effort and no real return”.

There is a large shift towards Psychometrics and other forms of assessment which are less labour intensive but give insights which help individuals and organisations increase their understanding and make decisions about development, next steps and so on.

So, why do a 360?  The case for increased self-awareness as a key factor in achieving high performance in the short and mid-term and for career success in the longer term is well established.  Understanding how others perceive you is vital to self-awareness. You can get much of this from feedback by asking individuals what they think.

This is the reason why the 360 was invented.  It provides a process to gather feedback from a range of sources and display those results so that the learner can understand how different people and groups may have a different perception of them.  The anonymity of 360 is also well established as the key way to ensuring no positive bias.  Direct reports in particular can be honest without creating a career limiting faux pas.  To be self-aware we need to be open to what people think. The richness of the 360 as a source of information is vital for supporting successful development of future leaders.

So, how do we get the benefits of 360 without the costs the client I talked to had experienced?

Firstly, be selective.  For me the Korn Ferry 360 is the platinum standard: it’s got years of research behind it, 6 norms groups to support benchmarking against other leaders at different levels, it’s a global tool with different languages supported and very flexible.  You can adjust the assessment to meet the exact needs of the individual or group.  No more cookie cutter 360’s here. You can select the competencies that are relevant to the individual and their role and assess against them.  If you really want to go granular you can select 3-5 competencies and assess at a behavioural level.  Korn Ferry has lots of development remedies to support people with the “what next?”, which is the whole point of the exercise.

Secondly, a high quality debrief is critical to help the individual understand the results and what it means for them and to consider different actions and next steps.  Group debriefs can be time efficient and seem more cost effective, but require an individual follow up, otherwise it is all too easy for people to enjoy the information and put it in a drawer.

Lastly, a 360 is not a replacement for poor management.  We have seen instances in the past of managers using a 360 as a way of giving feedback to their team members without talking to them face to face.  Managers should still be talking to their people and the 360 just becomes another tool to help support this.  It’s an investment, of time, resources and budget, so make sure it’s done in the right way.  This will ensure that it has the greatest impact on the person who’s receiving the feedback and will make it an invaluable tool which they will use to develop themselves for the future.

For more information about how to increase your leaders’ self-awareness and to have motivating and actionable development plans email info@management-dynamics.com