Improve Performance with a 360 Degree Survey

Don’t Panic. This is a powerful development tool.

If your organization wants to begin to implement 360-degree surveys, your first reaction might be, for lack of a better term, to panic. Yes. It’s uncomfortable. Yes. You’ll feel vulnerable.

It might be hard to be part of a 360 process, understanding that these surveys measure subjective workplace behaviors and competencies. And, naturally, receiving feedback from peers, subordinates, and senior leaders can feel intimidating.

So, before panicking, consider the benefits of a 360-degree survey and how it can improve your performance.

1. Holistic Insights from Multiple Sources:
A 360-degree survey gathers feedback from peers, subordinates, supervisors, and even external stakeholders. This diversity of viewpoints provides a well-rounded assessment of a manager's performance, shedding light on blind spots and strengths that might otherwise go unnoticed.

2. Learning is continuous.
Managers can only become great managers through a process of continuous improvement and learning. This doesn’t stop with a promotion. 360-degree surveys measure soft skills, like teamwork, character, communication, and leadership effectiveness. By getting candid, constructive feedback, you can identify specific areas where you excel and home in on what you should be working on. A 360-degree survey will also give you the tools to customize your development plans.

3. Employee Engagement and Trust:
There is a correlation between effective management and higher levels of employee engagement. When managers actively seek feedback, employees feel valued, leading to increased trust and stronger working relationships.

4. Track Progress Over Time:
360-degree surveys shouldn’t be a one-time thing, instead part of your organization’s strategy to develop and improve manager performance. Managers can track their progress over time.

5. Cultural Alignment and Leadership Development:
360-degree surveys promote cultural alignment by encouraging managers to exemplify desired behaviors. Furthermore, the feedback can guide leadership development initiatives, aligning managerial skills with organizational goals.

What’s not to love, right?

Well, far too often, we see that organizations implement 360-survey processes as a performance appraisal. This can be tricky. It’s difficult to create an atmosphere of trust when you use evaluations to measure performance. As a 360 survey focuses on behaviors and competencies more than job skills, requirements, and performance objectives, it’s not a holistic performance appraisal. It can be beneficial to incorporate 360 reviews into a larger performance management process, but your communication has to be impeccable in terms of sharing how this information will be used.

The benefits of a strategic 360-degree survey process include improving teamwork, increasing accountability, identifying leadership challenges, establishing skills and leadership development programs, implementing meaningful manager training programs, reducing biases and discriminatory practices, among others.

Self-awareness is critical to great leadership. That means you must be willing to listen to feedback and learn about what you’re doing great and what you need to develop.

HBR: What Makes a 360-Degree Review Successful

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