This question comes up often: “We know we want to run a 360 feedback programme, but we’re not sure when it’s best to do it”. Unfortunately there isn’t ‘a one size fits all’ answer, to a great extent it depends what else is going on in the organisation, what you want to achieve, and what other priorities and pressures the people involved will have at the time. The last thing you want to do is waste everyone’s time because you didn’t think through the full picture.
To help you weigh up your options, here are some of the usual times organisations choose:
Before and after a training or development programme
If you are planning a development programme for managers or rising talent that is spread over several months, a 360 appraisal can make a good ‘before and after’ measure. One word of warning: try to leave at least nine months between the two measures, ideally at least a couple of months after the training programme has finished, to give delegates a fair chance of demonstrating their improved skills.
As part of the annual appraisal
Some organisations streamline appraisals by including 360 as part of their existing in house appraisal system. This works well if their own one to one appraisal process complements the 360 rather than duplicating it – no one likes unnecessary work.
As a separate annual event
Some companies have a well established appraisal system for each employee to get feedback and plan business based objectives with their line manager. They use 360 feedback as a separate development activity for the individual, and often give them the opportunity to discuss their report with a coach instead of their line manager
When change is bedding down
Companies also use 360 feedback more strategically, as an organisational development tool. if new teams or structures have been put into place, a 360 programme will reveal how individuals have risen to the challenge, but also give insights into the bigger picture
When not to run a 360 feedback programme
There are times, of course, when you should hold fire:
- When you are looking for excuses to offload people
- When you have new team members
- When you are in at the beginning or in the middle of major change
Feedback can’t be relied on to help solve the issues when the organisation or its people are facing fresh and difficult challenges. Careful thought and planning will make sure you choose the right time for you.
Author of Face to Face in the Workplace