Here’s How to Avoid the Most Common Mistakes With 360 Feedback

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Nov 11, 2016

In order to successfully implement 360-degree feedback in your workplace it is vital to be aware of the common mistakes made by others when doing so, and how to avoid them.

360-feedback is a highly useful process, allowing employees to openly communicate feedback with each other in order to develop in the workplace, but for it to have the desired impact, it must be implemented properly. Here’s our guide to avoiding 6 common mistakes which people make when introducing 360-feedback in the workplace.

1. Communicate

It’s important to communicate any changes occurring in the workplace to team members. If your review system is undergoing changes, it’s going to impact the whole team, and they should be informed. Employees need to be aware of and willing to engage with changes to their working practices for the changes to actually be of use. The first pitfall that companies run into with implementing 360-feedback is the failure to communicate properly with staff on the purpose, how it will be used in the workplace, and the specific issues you’re looking to fix with it.

Action steps: Hold a company-wide meeting before the process is implemented to make it clear both how the tool will be used and how it will be useful. There should also be ongoing conversation regarding company feedback culture as the process continues.

2. Make it a regular activity

Feedback should be a real-time, constant process. It’s not effective to simply introduce 360-feedback as something that only happens every quarter or as part of a yearly review. In today’s workplace, people are likely to be working with different people and teams on multiple projects so it’s beneficial to receive real-time feedback from those you’ve been working closely with. A continuous flow of feedback from multiple perspectives helps people gain a useful overview of their performance and work behaviors.

Action steps: Implementing 360-feedback as an ongoing process. Using tools like Impraise means that it’s easy to integrate into everyday practices. People can provide feedback at any time using their smartphones or online either during or outside of their regular working day. It’s important to introduce 360-feedback as something which can fit seamlessly into people’s working routines; it’s then easy to see it as a daily practice as opposed to a task that has to be completed at intervals.

3. Be sure it has a purpose

It must be clear why you’re taking the step of introducing 360-feedback. Having a feedback system implemented is only useful if there is a clear purpose for it. It’s all too common that changes are made to workplace systems without them being fully understood by either the people they will impact or those implementing them. Making changes without having clear needs to address that benefit the company means it’s difficult for team members to get on-board.

Action steps: When you are informing people of the changes to your feedback system, make sure the purpose is clear. Is the feedback going to be used for development? To keep track of goals and progress? To generally improve communication between team-members? Whatever your company decides, it should not only be communicated to team-members before the process is implemented, it should also be ensured that people are properly trained to use the tool and provide useful feedback that is in line with your company aims.

4. Confidentiality

It’s important when using 360-degree feedback to ensure it is clear what is anonymous and what isn’t. Having a distinguished line between the two is key in ensuring people are comfortable giving feedback.

Action steps: As a company it’s important to decide upon your feedback culture. Do you want everything to have names attached, or do you think anonymous feedback is more beneficial in that it helps people who are new to the process become more comfortable, particularly with upward feedback. However you decide to implement it, it’s key that people are aware of how it will be given and received.

Note: For an opposite view on anonymous feedback see “It’s Really Critical You Avoid Anonymous Performance Feedback.”

5. Continue face-to-face conversations

A common mishap people make when implementing 360 feedback tools is that they see it as a replacement for face-to-face conversation. Feedback tools should always be used alongside such conversations, rather than as a replacement, to further engage people in the process.

Action steps: Ensure that as a company, the use of feedback tools isn’t where your feedback culture ends. There are other actions you can take to keep the conversation going. As a manager, you can encourage an open feedback culture by leading by example, ensuring to have regular 1-on-1 conversations where you either provide praise or make it clear where there’s room for improvement. Here at Impraise, we carry on the conversation both by making face-to-face feedback a part of the everyday, but also ensuring it becomes habitual by holding a weekly ‘cheers for peers’ where there’s a company-wide opportunity to publicly praise a colleague for something they’ve done that week.

6. Follow-up

A common mistake is thinking the process is complete once feedback has been given. In order for 360’s to actually be useful, people need to be given the opportunity to respond to evaluations accordingly, and be able to follow them up.

Action steps: Ensure any 360-feedback is followed with meetings to check on progress and how people are responding to their evaluations. Perhaps schedule 1-on-1’s with managers, or team-meetings where open discussion is encouraged among team members. Ensure reviews are being acted on accordingly, and people are developing based on the feedback they’ve received.

You can implement real-time, 360-degree feedback successfully in your workspace. It will benefit the whole team and give everyone an open opportunity to provide and receive relevant reviews.

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