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No excuses! Solving 3 big 360 feedback problems

No excuses! Solving 3 big 360 feedback problems
Employers have always recognised that in order to improve the performance of their business, they must be committed to improving the performance of their people. As an established part of the HR furniture, 360 reviews are used by organisations all over the world to help employees recognise and acknowledge their development needs. Although they provide the opportunity for objective and constructive feedback, there are some challenges associated with using 360 questionnaires and the subsequent feedback process.

Here we highlight three major 360 hurdles and how you can help your employees manage the process more effectively.

1: Rater fatigue
Have you heard people complaining about completing - in a very short time span - the same 360 questionnaire again and again? That they were more concerned with achieving the finish line than with providing valuable feedback? These are clear symptoms of what we call ‘rater fatigue’.

We can point to the obvious measures to help ease this problem; like ensuring the admin is user friendly, keeping the questionnaire as short as possible, and reminding subjects to avoid inviting a large quantity of reviewers but instead invite only those most relevant.

In addition to this, there are advances in technology that can help. At Cubiks, we’ve recently introduced ‘Cubiks 360 Matrix’, which enabled reviewers to simultaneously rate multiple individuals within the same 360 process. By rating reviewees in batches, completion time can be dramatically reduced and the task becomes much less repetitive. This, of course is good news for the quality of the results!

2: Discomfort at giving / receiving feedback
360 results are like a mirror, there’s no escaping from the fact that they might not always show you what you want to see. An individual’s fear of discovering that his peers’ perception is different to how he sees himself can pose a major problem in the 360 process.

Organisational culture has a big part to play in enabling people to comfortably take feedback on board, as well as ensuring they are confident filling in a questionnaire that might be critical toward others. HR can implement processes and provide training, but ultimately the best results come when these initiatives grow to be embedded within the culture. To achieve this, they need to be ingrained at the roots of the organisation. A prescriptive approach won’t work; the value of 360 feedback needs to be demonstrated from the top down, with senior management being the first to participate.

A simple method that can help mitigate this problem and put people at ease is the use of a variation on the ‘traditional’ 360, the ipsative option. Cubiks offers an Ipsative 360 (as well as the standard 360), which asks the subject and reviewers to rank competencies rather than rating them. As a result, each reviewee gains insight into their relative strengths and development areas without any scores being attached to the competencies.

3: Information overload
It is the feedback facilitator’s task to channel the information that results from a 360 process and help reviewees identify the key messages to take from it. If this isn’t done effectively, reviewees can experience information overload; preventing them from gaining the awareness of their strengths and development areas that is required for them to start taking action.

So the question for the feedback facilitator is ‘how can I manage the output?’ If we want to prevent participants from drowning in 360 data, training feedback facilitators in delivering and communicating results is vital.

Obviously reports play an important role too. Presenting a high level overview at the start can help identify areas in which it might be valuable to zoom in on more detailed information. Straightforward language, easy to read graphs and diagrams are a must. Managing the data can be made even easier with the use of specialist reports, for instance Cubiks offers reports that enable you to track progress by comparing an individual’s results through time or reports that provide aggregated results to highlight the trends at a group level.

Finally… money
Even though you can overcome all these hurdles, you might still say that 360 processes cost too much. Of course a good, comprehensive solution (including the tool, process, implementation etc.) won’t come for free. But this investment is one that will pay dividends in time.

Implementing a high quality 360 process will enable your people to undertake targeted development interventions to address areas in which they can improve. This doesn’t mean your entire workforce needs to register for a training course, there are a huge range of other options available to aid people’s development. By confirming and highlighting the strengths of participants as well, the process will help employees feel more confident and engaged and this can only boost performance.

The sum is more than its parts … calculate your ROI!

Article author: Vincent Van de Belt - Cubiks UK