IN
CHORUS
June 2020
How to get great
360° feedback
guide

360° feedback, when done right, leads to some of the most eye-opening insights for self-reflection and personal growth.

This process is different than individual feedback and there are subtle ways it can go wrong. In this article, I’ll break down how you can run great 360° feedback for your team.

Terminology

I’ve found 360° feedback most effective with a three-party system. The first is the person requesting feedback (requestor). The second is a group of people providing feedback. The third is someone who reviews the responses, summarizes the themes, and goes over the feedback with the requestor (reviewer).

This article assumes that you are acting as the reviewer and want to make sure your team gets great feedback.

Some misconceptions

Often, feedback tools come bundled as part of a performance management system rolled out organization-wide. That doesn’t have to be the case. You can start a feedback culture without an executive mandate or compliance requirements.

I’ve seen small teams run successful programs because they value growth and learning from each other, not because a system requires a formal bi-annual review on file.

Feedback anti-patterns

Forcing feedback

If the person is closed off to feedback there is little chance of reflection, internalization, or action. Worse, you may come off as manipulative or malicious.

Using it as punishment or to correct a specific problem

Examine your goals. If you aren’t genuinely interested in helping this person get outside perspective and grow there’s probably a better tool for the job.

As an example, if your goal is to prove a point you just can’t seem to get across you could take the Radical Candor approach and be direct.

Elements of great feedback

Frame questions constructively

One criticism about the 360° feedback process is that it tends to highlight negative qualities instead of building on strengths. Counter this with thoughtful questions. Here are some I like to ask teams after a project finishes.

  • What did {name}do that had a positive effect on you, the team, or the outcome of the project?
  • What is {name}great at that not everybody gets to see?
  • What is something that {name}could do to take their development to the next level?
  • I can count on {name}.
  • I would choose to work with {name}again.

While generating ideas for improvement, responses to question #3 only suggest that the requestor pursue them rather than criticize underdeveloped skills or deficiencies.

Select who will provide feedback

Choose three or four people with the feedback requestor. Your goal is enough variation to even out individual biases but not too many that responses take weeks to collect.

Try to select a mix of immediate teammates along with coworkers at a similar level in a different part of the organization. Often outside perspective provides the key insight.

Set a timeline for yourself

The most tedious part of 360° feedback is following up with each person, collecting their responses, and returning the feedback quickly. I shoot for finishing in one week.

Tools like encoro (surprise!) follow up with timed emails to collect responses in a central location and make follow-ups and editing easy.

Write a meaningful synthesis

Be thoughtful and write a strong synthesis of the themes. This is the art of great 360s. Writing these may take a while to do well at first, but will come more naturally over time.

This synthesis is what the person will remember the most and is a chance to help the requestor integrate the main message in the feedback.

Sit down and go over the feedback together

The receiving end of feedback can be stressful. Sit down with the requestor and contextualize responses, making sure to focus on growth opportunities rather than leaving them to read negatives between the lines.

Wrapping up

That’s it. I hope this takes some of the mystery out of starting effective 360° feedback with your teams.

Thanks for reading,
Matt ⚡

Kick-start your feedback culture

Matt from encoro

Keep connected with your remote teams by building a culture rich with feedback. Automate the tedious parts of 360° feedback with encoro and save energy for the parts that need a human touch.

I’d love to talk shop with you and come up with a feedback plan that works best for your team.