Guide to180 Feedback HUMAN RESOURSES COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN ECOLOGY

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1 HUMAN RESOURSES COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN ECOLOGY Guide to180 Feedback The goal of an effective 180 feedback implementation should be positive, measurable, long-term leadership growth and development

2 Table of Contents Introduction... 2 Clarify the purpose... 2 Selecting the right tool... 3 Process Execution... 4 Planning and Logistical Considerations... 5 Tips

3 Introduction 180 feedback is when an individual invites feedback from one particular area of their working lives, most commonly this being manager s direct reports. This feedback is usually based on a set of competencies or behavioral statements and requires the individual to also complete a self-assessment. In its purest form the process is known as 360 degree feedback which includes an individual receiving feedback from all aspects of their working life, i.e. peers, direct reports, line manager, customers, suppliers and comparing this to your own self-perception. Before you launch your 180 assessment program, there are some important logistical considerations and effective steps you can take to help your initiative succeed. Remember that the prospect of giving and getting feedback can be very uncomfortable for some people. You should be mindful of this fact every step of the way and do whatever you can to help people feel comfortable with both giving and receiving feedback. Clarify the purpose Communicate to those getting feedback: It is essential that you educate the people being rated as to why they are being rated. If they are wary and do not trust your intentions, they can sabotage your initiative through their resistance to participate. If the 180 feedback program is developmental, tell them so. The more information you can provide up-front, the more willing they will be to participate. 1. Why are we doing this? To provide well-rounded feedback from peers or reporting staff. This can be a definite improvement over feedback from a single individual. Coworker perception is important and the process helps people understand how other employees view their work. 2. Who will see the result? Will HR? The primary purpose of obtaining multi-source feedback is to provide positive, measurable, long-term growth and development. To that end, you manager will see the results and may consult with HR to help formulate a development plan. Additionally, a summary of the feedback could be considered when evaluating key talent and future leaders. 2

4 3. How and when will the results be delivered? The results will be delivered confidentially and in conjunction with your yearend reviews. 4. How will respondents be chosen? Is the participant choosing them or is HR managing this? Respondents (a/k/a raters) are chosen based on the form of feedback sought. One option is to seek peer feedback in which case the respondents will be your peers. The other option is to seek direct report feedback in which case the respondents will be the individuals who report to you directly. Communicate to the people giving feedback: Respondents are being asked to take time out of their busy days to fill out the survey. Some respondents will likely be asked to provide feedback on several of their coworkers. Let the respondents know how their answers will be used, who will see them, and why they are being asked to give feedback. Keep in mind that giving feedback can be uncomfortable to respondents. Be sure to emphasize that all feedback they provide will be anonymous and confidential. Anonymity and Confidentiality In order to get candid feedback and make sure people are comfortable receiving feedback, it is important that you convey to both participants and respondents that the 180 assessment is anonymous and confidential. Remember, if people do not feel comfortable giving feedback, they may not be as candid or forthright in the feedback they give - or they may simply not participate. If people do not feel comfortable getting feedback, they may resist participating or be less open to the feedback they receive. Selecting the right tool Select a feedback option 1. Peer feedback Leaders would use this option to obtain feedback regarding his/her direct reports from each of their peers. Some of the outcomes may be increased awareness of performance/work-related behaviors greater alignment of performance expectations between peers and a strengthen team dynamic cross-functional integration of your direct reports 3

5 2. Manager feedback Leaders would use this option to obtain feedback regarding his/her direct report from each of the employees (or at least one layer down). Some of the outcomes may be improved team performance results increased employee satisfaction retention of key talent Process Execution 1. Soliciting feedback Be consistent identifying raters. If you are soliciting from someone s peers solicit from all of his/her peers, do not hand pick them. If you are soliciting from someone s employees, identify the appropriate cutoff level. Prepare participants on the objectives of the 180 feedback program, the overall administrative process, the frame of reference, and how to avoid rating errors such as the halo effect. Provide raters with a method to submit feedback anonymously. Give raters adequate time to provide feedback particularly if it is peer feedback. Chances are they will be providing feedback on multiple peers. One to three = 5 business days four to eight 10 business days, etc. 2. Reviewing and interpreting feedback results It is important to recognize that the feedback given will to a certain degree be subjective, and those subjective perceptions may well be very different from the job holder s perceptions of their own performance and behavior. Herein lies the biggest problem - people can be very surprised at the feedback they are given, and unless it is handled correctly, all trust and confidence in the process can be destroyed. To avoid this happening consider the following: Do not send the feedback report direct to the job holder without an opportunity for discussion and explanation. This is particularly important if the job holder has not undertaken 180 feedback before. Summarize the data and provide it in information chucks. 4

6 Ensure job holders have an opportunity to review/discuss results, before any action is agreed or taken. The contents of the report should remain confidential between the job holder and their manager. No other copy of the feedback needs to be retained by the organization. Feedback should be delivered at an appropriate time and place (not 5:00 on a Friday afternoon or in Starbucks!). When providing feedback, don t focus purely on what might appear to be negative comments in the feedback, take equal account of the positive feedback received. Encourage the job holder to take the feedback on board, and to consider how they might use it to develop their strengths further as well as address their development needs. If the job holder feels that the feedback is unfounded, encourage them to provide evidence of how they have behaved differently. Don t let the job holder try to work out who has provided what feedback. It will not be helpful and invariably their assumptions will be wrong anyway. Ultimately, the purpose of 180 feedback is to help the job holder identify their key development needs. At some point following the feedback, there should be a meeting between the job holder and their line manager to agree on personal development actions. 180 feedback is a valuable tool for helping individuals to gain a greater insight into their own performance and behavior. However, to gain the most from the process it is vital that serious thought is given to how and when the feedback will be given. 3. Develop an Action Plan In the purest sense, 360 degree feedback is simply information. Having a specific, measurable action plan is necessary for change. Most managers already know how to set clear, specific goals, timeframes, and action steps. The trick is to make sure that they take the time to follow through Planning and Logistical Considerations Avoid Gridlock! Keep in mind that for every person receiving feedback, a dozen several others will be providing feedback. If a large number of people will be receiving 5

7 180 feedback, potential respondents can get quickly overwhelmed with requests to provide feedback. Consider the following suggestions to avoid this situation: If possible, have only a small number of people in any particular workgroup or business unit go through the program at the same time. Most feedback requests will be sent to people in the same workgroup, so if a large number of people in the workgroup are asking for feedback at the same time, key people in that workgroup will likely be inundated with requests for feedback. Timelines: Every request for feedback will include a date by which respondents need to reply. The ideal amount of time is anywhere from 10 to 14 days. If the time is shorter, people might not get to it before the deadline. If the time is longer, they will likely forget about it. Plan to send reminders a few days before the feedback deadline. If possible, you should also allow for a few extra days at the end for stragglers. Response Modes: Since we are using a paper version, instruct respondents to return the feedback via interoffice mail omitting the from information on the envelope to help ensure anonymity. Thank Respondents: Once you are done collecting data, be sure to send a thank you message to respondents. Remind them of how their feedback will be used. Tips Providing impactful feedback - 1. Effective feedback is specific, not general. (Say, "The report you turned in yesterday was well-written, understandable, and made your points about the budget very effectively." Don't say, "Good report.") 2. Effective feedback always focuses on a specific behavior, not on a person or their intentions. (When you held competing conversations during the meeting, when Mary had the floor, you distracted the people in attendance.) 3. The best feedback is sincerely and honestly provided to help. Trust me; people will know if they are receiving it for any other reason. 4. Successful feedback describes actions or behavior that the individual can do something about. 6

8 5. Whenever possible, feedback that is requested is more powerful. Ask permission to provide feedback. Say, "I'd like to give you some feedback about the presentation, is that okay with you?" 6. Effective feedback involves the sharing of information and observations. It does not include advice unless you have permission or advice was requested. 7. Effective feedback is well timed. Whether the feedback is positive or constructive provide the information as closely tied to the event as possible. 8. Effective feedback involves what or how something was done, not why. Asking why is asking people about their motivation and that provokes defensiveness. 9. Check to make sure the other person understood what you communicated by using a feedback loop, such as asking a question or observing changed behavior. 10. Effective feedback is as consistent as possible. If the actions are great today, they're great tomorrow. If the policy violation merits discipline, it should always merit discipline. Handling feedback with grace - 1. Try to control your defensiveness. Fear of hurting you or having to deal with defensive or justifying behavior make people hesitant to give feedback to another person. 2. Listen to understand. Practice all the skills of an effective listener including using body language and facial expressions that encourage the other person to talk. 3. Try to suspend judgment. After all, in learning the views of the feedback provider, you learn about yourself and how your actions are interpreted in the world. 4. Summarize and reflect what you hear. Your feedback provider will appreciate that you are really hearing what they are saying. You are ascertaining that you 'are' really hearing. 5. Ask questions to clarify. Focus on questions to make sure you understand the feedback. 6. Ask for examples and stories that illustrate the feedback, so you know you share meaning with the person providing feedback. 7

9 7. Just because a person gives you feedback, doesn't mean their feedback is right. They see your actions but interpret them through their own perceptual screen and life experiences. 8. Be approachable. People avoid giving feedback to grumpies. Your openness to feedback is obvious through your body language, facial expressions, and welcoming manner. 9. Check with others to determine the reliability of the feedback. If only one person believes it about you, it may be just him or her, not you. 10. Remember, only you have the right and the ability to decide what to do with the feedback. 8

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