At work, we rarely get structured feedback. Of course, we do get feedback from peers and colleagues in the course of duty from time to time. Generally, the only time we get formal or structured feedback is during the appraisal time. But appraisal is only done with one person—the boss and only done once a year except in companies where they conduct appraisals every quarter, which means four times a year.
Clearly, this is not adequate. For proper professional development, we need more feedback than what is typically provided via standard processes. This is where the 360 degree feedback survey becomes useful and important. In some of the big international companies, human resources teams coordinate the conduct of 360 degree feedback.
However, in most instances, this is up an individual to initiate and coordinate. Luckily, technology has made all such matters easy to conduct. You can easily use technology tools to conduct online 360 degree survey. The 360 degree feedback stands apart from many other feedback regimes because it is more holistic and covers more diverse viewpoints.
Since you get views from diverse people, the 360 degree tool gives good insights with great diversity and objectivity. Typically, you will send survey questions to several people who work with you—at same rank as you, some above, below as well as your suppliers or some key customers. This is why it is called 360 degree because you get insights all around you.
With such a holistic survey and using its results, you are then able to clearly identify your strengths and, more importantly, the areas that you need to further develop. The good thing is that the survey is already arranged in categories and so, once you have the survey results, you can quickly identify the areas that you are strong at as well as areas that you need to work on to become more balanced.
To get started, all you need is to use Google to search for any of the many free online tools that you can use to conduct your 360 degree feedback survey. You will probably be required to configure your own survey. Typically, the 360 degree feedback survey includes several dozens of questions—whose responses are a selection from a scale of one to five or from disagree completely, disagree, neutral, agree and completely agree or something along those lines. The survey tool will automatically aggregate the responses and produce reports for you. You can then easily see how you fare on the different survey questions. This helps you to identify your areas of strength as well as areas that you need to work on for continuous improvement.
You will group your questions into a few categories, including for example, communication, motivation, project management, business knowledge, decision- making, problem solving, conflict resolution skills, change management and supervisory skills. This helps you to spot the general areas where you are strong and general areas that you need to work on.
Remember to protect the confidentiality of the respondents. More people will be willing to respond to your survey if they have reasonable grounds to believe that their entries will remain confidential and, if possible ,anonymous. This way, the respondents will be more free to respond objectively and sincerely. Of course, you probably want – in fact you do need objective and sincere responses so that you have correct feedback that helps you to chart a correct plan of action for your professional development.
Remember to draw conclusions from your feedback report. It is important to pay attention to all the details of your feedback. Pay special attention to the trends. Also, do focus on the exceptions —both those items that are strongly positive and those that are strongly negative. For the strongly positive areas, you need to make good use of them for your advantage. For the strongly negative areas, you should draw up an action plan for addressing them. Good luck as you plan your next 360 degree feedback survey so that you can rise and shine!