Get to the core of your leadership effectiveness with a 360 Review.
What is a 360 Review?
A 360 Review provides a full-circle view of a person’s competencies related to their job. The purpose of any 360 Review is to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of someone by considering the perspectives and input from people up and down the ladder, as well as from side to side. The person under review is generally someone in a leadership role within an organization, and most Fortune 500 companies have experienced the 360 Review tool as a way to determine areas for development and growth.
In the 360 Review process, self-evaluation is necessary. In order to get a handle on how similarly or differently a person is viewed by others in the company, one must take a deep dive into understanding how they view themselves in relation to their job requirements and how they work in their environment.
For example, you may think you’re great at giving feedback with suggested improvements but others may view it as harsh criticism that comes out of left field. These are important distinctions to bring to the surface, unpack, and fix in order to improve everyone’s effectiveness and commitment to the organization.
For-profit and nonprofit organizations employ 360 Reviews in a number of ways including as a form of leadership development, or to evaluate the performance and effectiveness of top-level management like the CEO or Executive Director.
The 360 Review Secret Sauce
At Vantage, it’s all about the questions. Questions asked and answered are the basis of a 360 Review. Using multi-rater evaluations, the most widely recognized assessment in the business industry, the success of a 360 Review is not in the responses, but in the questions themselves. This means the challenge begins before the 360 feedback assessment is even taken. In fact, an unproductive 360 Review happens when the assessment questions don’t have a clear focus on what the job requires for superior performance.
The 360 Review is not about personality, it’s about leadership development related to job performance and how closely the person under review meets, exceeds, or misses the ball when it comes to their role.
There are a time and place to employ a 360 Review and overusing the process can take away organic, genuine responses. Vantage has recommended that somewhere between 12-24 month intervals are most appropriate for repeating a 360 Review. This allows the subject to work through their development and action plans to create real change. Repeating the review after a development program helps to see if improvement has been made. That said, being the subject of a review only a few times in a career is necessary, and works well for examining coaching and development needs to help propel the person towards succeeding in their role and reaching their potential.
A 360 Review is often a multi-part process that starts with preliminary assessments, then moves to a number of interviews by a third party facilitator, and ends in conversations that deep dive into the “whys” and “hows”.
How Do We Make Sure it is Effective?
At Vantage, we believe in the power of the 360 Review and recognize there are a few things to adhere to in order to make it as effective as possible.
- The process should never be totally anonymous. The leader under review needs specifics and context related to the responses to questions. For example, if one question poses a ranking on a scale of 1-5, and the responses show a number of 2s, the leader under review needs to understand where that’s coming from and why. Instead, the evaluation should be constructed in such a way that it is possible to get more information from respondents, rather than an anonymous number ranking – which brings us to our next point in making sure 360 Reviews are effective…
2. Utilize a third party coach to moderate the process. The person under review must have a way to get more insight and talk through responses to get to the core of issues that may arise. A good coach can help the leader in forming follow up questions that are constructive and not designed to justify or make excuses for performance issues. The emphasis should be on learning and making leadership improvement. As you can imagine, the 360 Review requires a mature person who is equipped with a level of emotional intelligence that allows them to accept criticism.
3. In order to be effective, all 360 Degree feedback questions must be job-related. To ensure relevant questions, they must reflect the key accountabilities and a clear understanding of personal skills, behaviors, and motivators that a person should have in order to be successful in their position. Once you have identified these factors, it will be easy to determine which questions will reveal applicable and relevant information.
When is a 360 Review Necessary?
There are a number of reasons for-profit and nonprofit organizations look to 360 Reviews. In some cases, if someone in a leadership role is not accepting feedback from the boss or peers, they might need a little more support. Often, when someone can see the data collected from a broad group of people – not just their boss – they internalize the shared truth and begin to make changes.
A 360 Review can act as a “reality check” for people. It can help them move forward and improve the work culture and environment as a result. A 360 Review is also great for assessing the performance of a CEO or Executive Director because they often work one step removed from Board members. The review allows these groups of people to reflect on the effectiveness of the day-to-day work of organizational leaders.
It is important to reiterate that 360 Reviews can be overused as a performance measurement tool. The biggest goal of the 360 Review is to support leadership development, not just performance.
What Should We Do With It?
After any 360 Review, the person under review should be carefully and thoughtfully debriefed. In this process, important gaps between how they ranked themselves and how others ranked them need to be identified. If the results come back as low in self-reflection and low from others, then it is likely a performance issue that needs to be addressed. If the results come back as low in self-reflection but high from others, they may have an unrealistic view of their biggest strength and could be underutilizing it. In any scenario, the person under review will have a heightened level of self-awareness necessary to learn from, grow, and move forward to enhance their leadership capabilities and improve the overall organization.