One of the questions that arises most often when administering 360 Feedback Surveys is this: “What can I say to actually help [insert employee’s name here] develop? Is my feedback being heard?”
The position of a “Rater” in a 360 Survey Process is perhaps the most crucial role. As one of our favorite quotes from Bill Gates says, “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” However, how can raters maximize their roles to most help their leader? Here are our top ten tips:
- See the Big Picture: While it may be easy for one negative experience or one recent moment to cloud your vision, it is essential that the collective interactions with a participant are evaluated when leaving feedback.
- Be Constructive: Every bit of feedback left for a participant should be done so with a goal in mind. Therefore, comments that only point out flaws with no suggestions for improvement are almost useless to a participant. After creating an end objective, provide qualitative feedback that will help pave a path of growth and development.
- Use Positive Language: Whether leaving a positive or constructive comment, starting out each sentence with an optimistic tone is imperative. Rather than saying, “You didn’t…,” consider using language such as “I wish you had…” or “You could…”
- Think Forward: While it’s easy to dwell on the past and mistakes that have already been made, it is often most useful to look towards the future. Going along with the theme of providing constructive criticism through positive language, providing comments that plan for a brighter future are most useful in shaping and molding employee development.
- Know Whether Your Feedback is Anonymous or Not: While it may seem obvious, be aware of whether or not what you are saying will have your name attached to it. Regardless of anonymity, no comments should be harsh, cruel or downright negative. However, knowing whether or not your feedback is anonymous can help you refrain from mentioning specific instances that would “give you away,” and thus potentially breach the anonymity of other raters, as well.
- Be Objective: Office politics, friendships, and social circles should never come into play when it comes to 360-degree feedback. Although there may inevitably be a correlation between who you get along with and the amount of positive or constructive things you have to say, being objective is the best way to ensure employees can receive the most valuable feedback to help them grow personally and professionally.
- Utilize the Entire Scale: For quantitative survey items, it is always best to judge each and every question on its own, rather than blindly marking “all 5’s” or “all 1’s” for a participant. While the entirety of the scale may not often be utilized, it is also unlikely that a participant is at the upper-most scale anchor on every single item. Therefore, know your scale ratings and mark each accordingly.
- Embrace the Open-Ended Items: As most of the tips on this list allude to, utilizing the opportunity to provide qualitative feedback is typically the most beneficial portion of the survey. While numbers and data can speak volumes, nothing can help an employee grow and develop more than hearing actual comments from their raters regarding their strengths, weaknesses, and suggestions for development.
- Be Specific: While it is not a best practice to dwell on one particular negative interaction or one anomaly in a spectrum of behaviors, it is helpful to provide participants specific instances that showcase strengths or areas to improve. Providing comments such as, “We all really liked it when you…” or “When you’re in board meetings, I wish you…” can provide the best starting point for a leader to make actual, tangible changes.
- Acknowledge Prior Growth: Even if you would like to leave a laundry list of further improvement suggestions, acknowledging how a participant has developed since a prior evaluation can provide wonderful motivation for the leader to continue utilizing feedback and making positive adjustments.
At the end of the day, the fact that a leader asked for your feedback shows that your opinions, viewpoints, and suggestions are important to their continual development. The most important tip that we can provide for raters? Your feedback is significant to the person who requested it, so please take the time to offer your perspective!