Too-often, I hear of employees struggling when reviewing 360 feedback reports. They become overwhelmed by the detail available, and end up without the time and focus needed to develop their action plan.
The end result? The employees fail to take action on their 360 degree feedback, and the entire process goes to waste.
So how do we help our employees to be more focused? I suggest we look to the best when it comes to reviewing and actioning reports - our CEOs.
Let's imagine Julia - your smart, focused and entirely fictitious CEO. She has just been given the results of a 4-week strategy review.
She starts by skimming over the Executive Summary and briefly stops to ponder over the ‘3 top priorities'. She doesn't agree with 2 of them but never mind. Next up, the juicy bit. She prints off 20 pages of customer survey findings, and grabs a highlighter.
And then she... stops on the first line. "Why are they giving us feedback on the marketing strategy? We've only just kicked off the new initiative!". Somewhat agitated, she highlights it and makes a note to find out who gave that piece of feedback.
An hour later and she's staring at 20 pages covered in the bright yellow ink from her highlighter. She's not in the best of moods when she meets with the consultants!
After debating the feedback, they run out of time and Julia has to head onto a customer meeting. They didn't get a chance to cover the top priorities, and don't really have a plan of action. They agree Julia will come up with a plan and email it over to the consultants…
But, a smart, focused CEO wouldn't review a report like this?
Exactly! Julia wouldn't review a report in this way. She'd focus on the information she needs to make decisions, and then on making a plan to action it.
Yet, it's common for employees to review their 360 feedback reports in this manner. They spend too much time in the detail and walk away with only a fuzzy idea of their strengths and weaknesses - and no clear plan of action!
So what can we learn from how we would expect a CEO to review a report? And how can we apply these lessons to our employees when they review their own 360 feedback reports?
1. Don't read the whole report
A CEO would start by reading the executive summary to identify the key strengths, areas to improve, and any surprising outcomes.
You can help your employees by providing guidance to them, and their managers, on how to read their 360 feedback report. Like a CEO, they should start with the summary.
2. Drill-down when you need detail
While reviewing the conclusions, a CEO would highlight any areas in which they need to see more detail. They would then look for more information about these specific areas.
A good report will make this easy, and it means that the CEO can quickly and efficiently get the level of detail she needs to make decisions.
To support your employees in doing this, you need to give guidance. But more fundamentally, you need a feedback report that makes it easy to review the summary and then drill-down into the detail if needed.
Apologies for the self-promotion, but you can check out Spidergap's sample 360 feedback report for a good example of this :)
3. Seek more information if needed
There are going to be times when the report leaves the CEO with some big questions that haven't been answered.
So she does the sensible thing. She asks.
This may sound obvious, but it's a step often missed out when reviewing 360 feedback. Employees and managers assume they need to come up with a full plan of action based only on the available feedback, and so identify training courses or other activities even though they don't fully understand the issues.
You should ensure employees know it's OK for their plan to include getting further input. Once they have a clear understanding of the areas the need improvement, they'll be in a much better place to plan their personal development.
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