There is no doubt that 360 feedback is a powerful tool to help leaders learn more about themselves and continue to grow and develop. But how do you know WHEN to initiate a 360 process?
Is any time a good time to get feedback from others? The short answer is YES!
Is there a good time to receive a gift? Of course, it’s nice to receive a thoughtful gift to celebrate a special occasion, such as an anniversary or a birthday, or from someone showing appreciation. But it’s also fun to be presented with a special “little something” when it’s just out of the blue, at any time. No reason is needed.
Although feedback can be helpful at any time, there are some best practices and general guidelines to consider when you’re planning to implement a formal, company-wide 360 assessment project. Below are a few helpful tips to guide you as you budget for and plan to include a 360 process as part of your upcoming leadership development initiatives.
When considering the timing of a 360 feedback initiative, think about the following:
- All levels of leadership can benefit! We [Our clients] have found tremendous success in using 360 assessments and coaching for all levels of leadership. Seasoned senior leaders, leaders who are expanding their roles, young professionals who have been identified as emerging talent, and even individual contributors who are leading projects all benefit from feedback! We customize 360 assessments for each of these populations to ensure that they are tailored to the unique competencies and behaviors expected at each level.
- Consider the time of year. Most 360 initiatives are launched at the beginning of the year (January-April) or after the summer holidays and before the winter holidays (August-October). This allows sufficient time for data collection as well as the coaching that takes place once the 360 results are compiled. We do not recommend launching a 360 assessment in June, July, or December. These months typically have a higher percentage of individuals out of the office.
- Determine length of work relationship. If a leader has been in a role for a while but has newer colleagues or direct reports, it’s best to include only those people with whom he/she has worked for at least 3-4 months. Anyone who has recently joined the team can be added as a rater during the next round of feedback. Even if the new team members don’t provide feedback, it’s still a great idea to include them when sharing the resulting goals and action plan. And, new team members can still provide feedback to the leaders during one-on-one meetings and informal conversations.
- Schedule around other initiatives. What other initiatives are taking place within the organization that could take the employees’ time, energy, and attention? If an Employee Engagement Survey is planned for Q2, it’s probably best to wait several months before launching a 360 assessment. Is the IT team launching a new platform that will be their top priority for months? Is the dust still settling from a re-org that was finalized last month? If so, put the 360 on pause for a few months.
- Avoid overlap with Performance Reviews. It is recommended that the 360 not be launched within the same timeframe that the organization’s Performance Reviews take place. This is to limit confusion and mitigate the risk of employees connecting the two different initiatives. A 360 feedback process is best used for development purposes only – to help employees grow, develop, and enhance their leadership skills. To reinforce a clear delineation between Performance Reviews and 360 Feedback, it would be ideal to have a 3–4-month separation between the two.
- Wait if new to role. Is the leader new to this role or new to the organization? If so, consider that it’s best to work with someone for at least 3-4 months before asking for 360 feedback. It’s best to give others time to get to know the leader so that they have more experiences to draw from. This will result in more complete and relevant feedback.
Feedback is a gift – a very special gift that keeps on giving. Feedback can benefit anyone working at any level within the organization, in any role, at any time. Learning more about how you’re perceived by others will help you continue to learn and grow – and to become even more effective in any role that you’re in. Isn’t that what we all want? To continue to improve and become even better? The learning journey never ends – we learn throughout our careers and our lives. If you’re ready to take the next step towards investing in your most valuable asset, your people, please connect with our team today to learn more!