Using 360 Degree Feedback Assessments

Using 360 degree feedback assessments

When feedback is given on the basis of 360° assessment it is a powerful development tool, serving as a mirror to help individuals see themselves as others see them. Self-awareness is positively associated with managerial and leadership effectiveness: research has shown that more effective leaders are more aware of their competencies, personal characteristics, strengths and limitations than less effective leaders.

Some people have valid concerns regarding 360 reviews. For example, if you have a colleague who is relatively new to the organisation, you may not know them well enough to give an appropriate assessment, and likewise, they will not be able to provide you with one.

Another concern is that it removes the importance of good communication on a day to day basis, with people waiting to unload their concerns and grievances during an upcoming 360. You should be able to give face-to-face feedback to your colleagues. Open and honest feedback is something we encourage and practice at Leadership Trust. A 360 feedback review doesn’t replace other means of communication, instead, it is a complimentary and very powerful tool to add to your organisation.

What is a 360° degree assessment?

360° degree assessment is a process whereby individuals are assessed by themselves and their peers or co-workers, managers, direct reports and any external contacts that they interact with regularly. Hence why 360° – full circle: it looks at how individuals are perceived by all those around them, including themselves.

Why use this type of feedback assessment?

This method of assessment is the fairest, most comprehensive and therefore most valid way of assessing people. Every person who assesses an individual has a unique perception of him or her and these perceptions reflect what the assessor expects or gives importance to, in their working relationship and interactions with individuals. For example, an individual’s manager may emphasise certain behaviours or characteristics and de-emphasise others, while a different picture may be the case for direct reports who expect or value different behaviours or characteristics.

Used as a standalone or in conjunction with leadership development programmes as a wraparound tool before and after, it provides organisations with an accurate diagnosis of individual and team development needs, collective leadership behaviour, strengths, shortcomings and any leadership issues arising at the beginning of the leadership journey. It is advised for the individual to have a personal development plan (PDP) so that they can extract the areas for improvement from the 360° audit and begin to work on these.

The Leadership Trust 360° Audit

The key purpose of the Leadership Audit is for assessing the leadership behavior, strengths and development needs of individual managers and potential managers. In addition it is an instrument to evaluate the effectiveness of leadership programmes. It is based on established models of current leadership theory. The questionnaire has been checked for its reliability by the Research Centre for Leadership Studies at Leadership Trust.

The questionnaire is completed online, comprises 79 questions that cover the following 12 categories of leadership characteristics and behavior including areas such as emotional intelligence and the ability to coach and mentor others.

When completing the 360° Audit, be careful not to base your responses on just the best performance you ever saw (this is the ‘halo effect’) or the very worst you ever saw (‘the horns effect’). Similarly, avoid basing your response only on your most recent observation of the individual’s behaviour – good or bad. It is much better to take time and reflect on how well he or she generally performs in that particular area.

Giving and receiving feedback is not easy, in particular if the feedback is not good. It is much easier to say something nice and avoid conflict or hurt someone’s feelings. In order for an individual to grow and become the very best they can be, you are compelled to offer honest feedback.
The resulting data are used to produce development reports for each individual. The individual and a qualified coach will take part in a confidential session either by telephone or skype to discuss the feedback.

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