A 360-degree Feedback Story

A 360-degree Feedback Story

A 360-degree feedback is a process through which feedback from an employee’s subordinates, colleagues, and supervisor(s), as well as a self-evaluation by the employee themselves, is gathered. This is what the Wikipedia can tell you…

For me, it is a monthly gathering of the coworkers in which everyone can give feedback to the other participants. But there are some rules for both the feedback giver and the feedback receiver.

Guidelines for the feedback giver:

  • ask if you can give feedback
  • always maintain eye contact with the recipient
  • be specific. Your recipient must know exactly what you think they did well/wrong
  • provide both negative and/or positive feedback as needed
  • focus on the feelings the behaviour evokes in you
  • state clearly what your expectations are
  • be realistic and do not expect the impossible

In short, you have to ask if you can give a feedback and if the recipient allows you then you can say something like this:

(negative) “Last Friday, when I asked you to finish the task started by Tom you told me that it will be done before the end of the day. I informed the client about your estimation but you didn’t deliver and what is more important you didn’t inform anyone about it. I felt really bad because the client called me in the evening and I didn’t know what happened. Next time please inform me or the client if you are not able to fulfill your promise.”

or

(positive) “It was absolutely awesome when you prepared the presentation about how the seko API works. It was super helpful for the whole team and saved us a lot of time.”

Guidelines for the feedback recipient:

  • taking part in a 360-degree feedback session is voluntary
  • do not interrupt the feedback giver
  • think through any constructive feedback or suggestion you may hear and remember that negative information can be useful
  • you are the only person to decide to what extent you are going to take the feedback into account
  • you can ask feedback giver to allow you to comment on the content of feedback (if feedback giver agrees then try to briefly comment on the issue and avoid justifications)

In our negative example the receiver can say something like this:

“Thank you for the feedback. Next time I will leave you a message on Slack if something similar happens.”

How does it work in practice?

We introduced a 360-degree feedback to our company in 2014, and it was a great success. After a few sessions, you could see a difference in people’s approach to work and to each other. Feedback also helped to identify and resolve a lot of internal conflicts.

For the initial sessions, all the people in the company took part. There were about 15 people then and the feedback session lasted about 2–3 hours. But the company grew and we noticed that the feedback sessions started to be way too long.

At some point, I created an application where people could enter their feedback to the others. Then, once a month, we had a meeting and went through all the feedback together. It was much faster and a lot of people liked it but something new happened…

There were not enough constructive feedback anymore! It was caused by two factors. Firstly, all the negative feedback has been already given and people started to apply it. Secondly, we created the environment where people started to give a face-to-face feedback on daily basis. There is no point to wait till the next feedback session if you can resolve challenges right away.

So gradually we have resigned from a company-wide 360-degree feedback sessions altogether. But there is still a place for it, on the team level. I reintroduced this tool a few months ago and I can say that it has a really good impact on the people I work with. It is great especially for the people that joined my team recently because they gather a lot of information about themselves and the way they work. It might be a real eye-opener for some of them.

Summary

A 360-degree feedback is an amazing tool that you can use to improve the atmosphere in your team and build a strong relationship between coworkers. It is a great way to praise someone or to help him/her grow, but it also shows if someone is willing to adapt and how criticism can affect him/her. But the most crucial thing is that it helps to build an open environment when no one hides problems but talks about them candidly and therefore, all obstacles are removed in a quick and professional way.