I Just Completed a 360 Evaluation…Now What?
A 360 evaluation for inspired performance
So, you just completed a 360 evaluation.
Maybe it fired you up, or it may have hurt a little. Probably it was a mix of both.
While there are many contradicting thoughts about the application and effectiveness of 360’s, and there are some leaders that no longer feel they are worth the investment, we know that well-delivered, constructive feedback is essential to high performance and an opportunity to grow, evolve and develop new strengths and competencies. In fact, while you may not feel it now, a 360 evaluation is actually a gift.
The problem with many 360 evaluations is that they aren’t designed or delivered well, and don’t conclude in a manner that provides the participant with a concrete plan for growth and inspired performance. It doesn’t have to be this way: there are new, innovative 360 processes available to organizations that are rooted in positive psychology and use a qualitative interview format designed from a systems lens that we believe deliver greater opportunity for improved employee performance.
We see 360 evaluations as a tool for inspiring performance and developing new competencies and strengths with the support of the supervising leader and key stakeholders, and potentially even a coach.
The question remains, how can leaders optimize the investment in the 360 process and what happens next to ensure they are used to drive performance?
Tips for Leaders to Optimize the 360 Evaluation
Here are ten tips for leaders to optimize the 360 process and ignite inspired performance:
- Choose a 360 process that is built on a positive psychology framework – according to Pete Berridge, founder of the Shift Positive 360 process, “positive psychology is the study of human strengths and well-being which employs proven methods to promote the flourishing of people, organizations and communities. The client’s “people system” is the group of people who participate in the 360 and become allies in the client’s change.” 360s rooted in positive psychology take into account that human beings need to feel motivated, supported by their system, and inspired in order to affect positive change.
- Make the 360 process the beginning of an inspired development planning process – often individuals are left wondering what comes next after the completion of a 360 review which can cause confusion, anxiety and uncertainty for the individual. Prepare to use the 360 as an opportunity for development planning conversations which include activating strengths and building new competencies.
- Remember negativity bias – due to negativity bias, individuals often take positive feedback and turn it into negative feedback; they often overlook the most constructive pieces of feedback and instead focus on those that are “negative”. It is important to frame the process through a strength-based lens and drive the focus on the opportunities, rather than just the gaps.
- Identify a coach, colleague, or peer/friend to help you process the results – select someone you trust to help process the results of the 360. Have them read the report and offer ideas, insights and themes that they see as opportunities including strengths to activate more often, possibilities for creating stretch goals and ways to deliberately practice new skills. A third party reviewing the results will provide perspective and counterbalance the tendency to process the report with a negativity bias lens.
- Give yourself time to process – some clients have said that it’s taken them several months to recover from and finally internalize some of what was said in their 360. For others, there is less sting and the process is more positive. Either way, it’s good to give yourself time to process, preferably with a trusted friend, coach or colleague (1-2 weeks) and then come back to it with a fresh eye.
- Give yourself permission to accept AND reject some of the ideas, themes, and comments – if something is repeated throughout across the 360, it’s important to pay attention to it. But a comment said once, that doesn’t make sense to you, doesn’t necessarily need much of your attention. Be honest about its accuracy, but feel free to let go of it should it not ring relevant and important. If you are unsure, ask a third party for feedback or perspective about the comment.
- Look at the results as an opportunity and gift – the purpose of a 360 is to leave the individual feeling motivated about how to activate their strengths more often, and ideally, pull out 1 or 2, specific leadership behaviors to focus on shifting. Try not to boil the ocean or use the 360 to think you need to become a different person, it’s about being who you are while also stretching into new capacities.
- Translate into deliberate practice – Once you come up with the 1-2 concrete behaviors or leadership areas of focus, write down places at work and perhaps even in your personal life where you can begin to deliberately practice this. Create specific goals for when and how often you will practice.
- Find conspirators for your success – in addition to having a third party help you process the results, it can be helpful to have a third party support you along the way as you begin to practice new leadership behaviors. Ask a colleague, or a friend that you trust, to give you feedback; talk about your goal openly with them and routinely discuss how it’s going.
- Finally, while you’re working on goals, give yourself permission to have days where you can just be yourself – exercising new behaviors can be hard and even draining; take time to focus on your strengths and relax some of your high expectations around shifting behaviors. Taking time to reset will allow you to go back into working on your goals with renewed vigor.