Make your 360 program a success
The 360 assessment is no stranger to most organizations and has been utilized widely over the years. Many talent practitioners understand the benefits of 360s but can sometimes come unstuck when it comes to successfully embedding the process into an individual development initiative or indeed a wider team development program to reap those benefits.
1. Organizational Readiness
Determine if the individuals taking part are ready for a 360
The ability for a 360 tool to collate feedback from multiple sources can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences. On the one hand, gathering feedback from different perspectives can powerfully reveal blind spots, but it can equally create a layer of complexity that impacts the outcome of the program.
Here are four considerations when planning a 360 program:
Maturity of the group
- The participant and their raters should work closely together and have regular opportunities to interact and collaborate.
- The participant(s) and their raters should be comfortable to take part in the 360 program and have a clear understanding of the basis for giving the ratings.
- The team leader should be part of a conversation to gauge the level of maturity in terms of collaboration and culture of feedback.
- Individuals that work in more siloed or remote structures may have fewer interactions and be less ready for this type of initiative. Encouraging a culture of collaboration and interactivity across individuals/teams can improve readiness.
Culture of feedback
- An existing culture of feedback - individuals who are open to regularly giving and receiving feedback are more likely to be comfortable with participating in a 360 program.
- Creating a functional feedback loop that drives meaningful improvement from constructive feedback will foster greater ownership of development actions.
- Teams that are recently formed or have less experience with giving and receiving feedback should be given time to work together and build a relationship before embarking on a 360 program.
Parallel talent management processes
- As part of the 360 planning process, it is important to be aware of any other talent management programs in place and how the two may impact each other. For example:
- A parallel 360 program involving a subset of raters may mean that some individuals have twice the amount of ratings to give. Could the additional time commitment impact on engagement levels for both programs?
- Different talent management programs can have different aims and objectives. Consideration should be given to potentially conflicting outcomes for participants.
- Project managers should communicate to formulate a coherent talent development plan across role levels and functions to ensure the best use of resources at the organizational level.
- Organizations undergoing a period of change can expect to see an impact on the team makeup which can cause a knock-on effect on team maturity and culture of feedback.
- Delaying any development activity, especially 360 programs, is advisable during a time of change.
2. 360 Program Best Practice
Design a 360 program that follows best practice.
Once you’ve determined that the individuals taking part are ready for a 360, ensure a sufficient period of planning and stakeholder engagement to design a 360 program that follows these best practice areas.
- Relevant communication to be given by the appropriate people at the right time.
- The purpose and objective of the 360 program should be conveyed by the project sponsor at the start of the program. This should set the tone and expectations, and illustrate the way it aligns with business objectives.
- Participants, raters and feedback providers should be given clear instructions and deadlines by the project manager. It should include relevant reminders at appropriate intervals.
Guidance for rater selection
- Involving participants in the process to select raters can build engagement with the program. By enabling participants to select the raters they value, they are also more likely to engage with and reflect on the feedback received.
- Appropriate guidance should be given to participants to select not just raters they appreciate, but those with whom they have worked closely with and who are likely to have a comprehensive view of the participant’s effectiveness at work.
- Project managers and/or project sponsors should review participants’ rater selection to ensure that appropriate raters and minimum numbers are achieved in the relevant categories. This ensures that all participants are on track to receive feedback from multiple sources and that rater anonymity can be protected.
Confidentiality and anonymity
- Results from a 360 program can be sensitive; it is important that participants and their raters are given assurance that their responses will be treated confidentially.
- Rater anonymity, where appropriate, should also be protected to encourage open and honest feedback.
- Careful consideration should be given to: who has access to reports, how the data/comments will be used and how participants will receive feedback. The answers to these questions will be driven by the overall purpose and objective of the program.
Provision of feedback
- Participants should receive feedback from a trained feedback provider.
- For individuals, feedback sessions should cover the results from the 360 tool and be used to shape development actions.
- Guided by the objectives of the 360 project, aggregate feedback may also be provided to the cohort or team of participants to inform development actions at the group level.
3. A Robust 360 Tool
Choose the right tool – not all 360 tools are the same
Choosing the right 360 tool is an important part of a robust 360 program and we understand that the tool needs to be right for both the talent practitioner and business stakeholder. Saville Assessment’s Wave Performance 360 tool was developed to maximize both psychometric rigor and business applicability.
Short completion time
The Wave 360 questionnaire comprehensively captures feedback from ratings and commentary, with a typical completion time of less than 15 minutes by either the participant or rater. The short time commitment means that individuals are more likely to finish the questionnaire. By creating a relatively straightforward completion process, individuals are also more likely to engage with and contribute meaningfully to the program.
Potential and Performance Management
The Wave Performance 360 is much more than a performance measure. Underpinned by the extensively-researched Wave Performance Culture Framework, our 360 measures key characteristics which drive success at work. Part of a suite of assessments, Wave Performance 360 can be used in conjunction with one of our Wave Styles questionnaires to provide a clear link to understanding an individual’s potential and performance at work.
Information about an individual’s potential can not only add value to a development conversation; when presented in aggregate form at the group level, organizations can begin to map the cohort’s talent and better inform succession planning.
At its core, ratings collated from the Wave 360 questionnaire reflect perceptions of a participant’s effectiveness across the behavioral areas. To give meaning to the effectiveness ratings, they are also benchmarked against a relevant comparison group made up of individuals at a similar role level. Participants can therefore powerfully see how their results compare with others in the external business environment.