360s are very useful if done correctly.
Unfortunately, most people get 360s wrong. In this post, I’m going to show you how to get your 360s right. Let’s assume that Sally, one of your Project Managers, is the subject of the 360. Identify a group of eight to ten of her peers, direct reports, and her manager, and schedule a 15-minute call with each participant. In my experience, the conversation takes about 5-7 minutes.
Here are the questions to ask:
- “What are the things that Sally does best?”
- “What is one thing that Sally could do better?”
- “What other advice do you have to help Sally perform better and be more successful?”
You’re looking for multiple sources of feedback as far as what Sally does well. You want to identify where she excels so that she can continue to leverage that strength.
When it comes to 360s, less is way better than more. Most 360s, particularly those done online, produce way too much data. The data may be correct, but it’s not helpful because no one can translate all the information into action usefully. You’re just looking for one area of behavioral change because behavioral change for adults is challenging.
This question provides you a chance to step back from any potentially negative comments from Question #2 and get a general sense of how the person that you’re interviewing thinks Sally could focus moving forward for her contribution to your organization.
“Is there anything else you’d like to add?” This question provides people the opportunity to reinforce the positive and negative feedback from the first three questions. It’s interesting to see what they emphasize. Now, this is the key. As you’re conducting the 360, you want to listen very carefully to what people say.
Once you’ve completed the interviews with the participants, schedule a debrief with Sally. Provide her an anonymized summary of the responses and then coach her by picking out behavior patterns. Your goal is for Sally to identify one behavior change that she can make that others could easily observe. For example: “Smile More” or “Don’t interrupt.”
Get outside help to conduct the 360
Finally, you’ll find that this process works when a disinterested third party, preferably from outside the organization, does the phone interviews. I coach executives and leaders in construction companies, and I conduct 360s precisely as I describe in this post, all the time. It’s a great way to help leaders learn specific ways to improve their performance.
If you have any questions about a 360, feel free to contact me by clicking this link.
Thanks for reading.