How to get 360-degree feedback surveying right

For leaders to do their best work, it is important that they get feedback from those around them. From their leader, from their peers and from their team members. It is important that the feedback is open and honest and is relevant to the leader and the organisation. Unfortunately, it is easy to get the process wrong. As I did in the early days of doing leadership development work. Here is how to get the process right, so that the leaders get a ton of value from the process. 

1. Get the preparation right 

This part of the process is crucial. It sets the process and the leader up for success. You need to remember that feedback can be confronting for some people, so the more information that you give them about why you are doing the survey, the better. An explanatory meeting or email should go out at least a week before the survey with an overview of how the process will work, and why it is being done. And it is focus on the fact that the survey is being done with the right intent, to support the personal and professional development of the leaders. 

Part of the preparation process is to let the leaders know that the surveyor is going to sit down with each leader and deliver the survey results. To help interpret and understand them. And letting the leaders know that the survey will be done anonymously. This last point is key, as the feedback needs to be deidentified. 

Continue your preparation with getting the questions right. Make sure that the questions are focused on your organisation’s values and vision. The questions should relate to values and vision, so that the leader can be made aware of how they are living the values, or if they have some opportunities for improvement. 

Once you get the questions right, you can set up the survey. How you develop the survey will make or break the success of the process. That is because the questions need to make sense to those completing the survey and be relevant. And the survey needs to be easily accessible and easy to complete. Including both multiple choice questions, as well as free text questions. Then, send out the survey to the leader’s leader, their peers, and their team members, and collect and collate the information. A note here – more survey responses are not always better. Aim for between 10 and 15 responses, as that is a manageable number. Allow for one to three respondents not providing enough information on the survey. 

2. Get the people part right 

You need to get the people part right, and this is about delivering the survey results. Yes, this is set up for success in the preparation stage of the process, and yes, leaders are still wary as they come into meetings with the surveyor (me ?) to talk through their survey results.  

The biggest do not here is to give leaders 360-degree survey feedback without an explanation, and without the ability to take the time to understand and process the information. In my experience, leaders come into that meeting not knowing what to expect and leave having learnt some valuable information about the perception of those around them of their own leadership styles. Gold. 

And, if you do 360-degree surveying with me, and The Guinea Group, we will catch up again for a quick touch base after 2 weeks, to further unpack or talk through the feedback. After the leader has had more time to process the information. Winner. 

3. Get the post-process right 

Close out the process properly. This involves thanking all respondents for their input. Meeting with the CEO or the other senior leaders, to talk through how the process went. And making sure that overall, all leaders got great value and great information from the 360-degree survey process. 

And, if the business is smart, they could ask the surveyor for some feedback on what the main areas of opportunity are (deidentified, of course) overall. And then consider if a training or coaching process is required to further support the leaders and their development.  

Yes, this is a part of the work we do. Yes, 360-degree surveying is a great tool to help leaders continue to learn about themselves and develop their skills. Yes, it needs to be done correctly and the business needs to get it right. Like all processes – if you get it wrong you can do more harm than good! 

Want to learn more about how to do 360-degree surveying? 

And please click the image below if you’d like to chat about what leadership means to you.

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About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
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