Tuesday 24 September 2013

Competency-based 360 Multi-Source Feedback: Delivering the Project

Part 3 of 4 in the CompetencyCore™ Guide to 360 Multi-source Feedback series:
  1. Feedback Goals
  2. Process and Resources
  3. Delivering the Project
  4. Selecting a multi-source feedback software solution
Get the complete Guide to 360 Feedback
By Ian Wayne, M.Sc and Suzanne Simpson, PhD, C. Psych.

In the first two blogs in this series we discussed the importance of following best practices in Multi-source Feedback to ensure a positive and enriching experience for all participating in the process, starting with defining the Feedback Goals for your organization and then determining the process and resources needed to achieve these goals.

Having defined the process and resources needed for your Competency-based Multi-source Feedback in your organization, the next steps are to pilot, implement and finally evaluate your program to ensure that it is meeting your intended goals.

Essential Criteria to Consider in Designing Your Process

How participants view the process is critical. If participants do not think that the system is fair, the feedback accurate, or the sources credible, then they are more likely to ignore the feedback they receive.


A pilot can generate a realistic picture of the resources required to manage the process throughout the rest of the organization. Valuable insights can be gained into the time required to provide ratings and feedback, as well as how soon the feedback can be given to participants.

Piloting also helps reduce uncertainties by allowing a test group to experience the process. It provides useful information for further planning and communication and allows for a review of the Multi-source Feedback instrument. An initial review allows consideration of such questions as whether the questionnaire is user-friendly, and whether appropriate development actions have been identified.

Lessons learned through the pilot should be considered. Any alterations and adaptations that will make implementation smoother should be made.


The most critical part of the implementation process is ensuring that all participants are clear about what is involved. To ensure this occurs:

  • Establish an individual or team to take responsibility for administering the system—this helps ensure that the procedure is running smoothly and any issues are resolved swiftly.
  • Provide a point of contact for participants with questions and concerns.
  • Establish deadlines for providing ratings and timeframes for providing feedback.
  • Send automated email invitations and reminders to individuals who are late completing their feedback. This reduces the administrator’s workload and maintains momentum.

  • Brief raters on the objectives of the scheme and provide instructions for completing questionnaires.

  • Provide clear and positive communication throughout the process.

Providing Feedback

Effective feedback is the springboard for subsequent development and is integral to the success of the process.

How will the feedback be communicated?

Given that an individual is receiving sensitive information about how their colleagues, direct reports and manager view their performance, sensitivity is required. Best practice would be to make someone available to help interpret the results with that person.

The people giving feedback will need to have the skills to support this process. The facilitators need a good understanding of the organization’s policies on the process, the instrument and report, an awareness of the range of reactions individuals have to feedback, and interpersonal skills in conducting a feedback session. Facilitators must also be seen as trustworthy and credible.

When being done for development, discussion of the results with the facilitator can help focus the discussion on future development planning rather than on the feedback itself. Skilled facilitators will help the individual to draw out evidence and make connections across different people and situations. It is this process that stimulates self-awareness and makes Multi-source Feedback such a powerful process.

When will the feedback be communicated?

Ideally, individuals should receive feedback as soon as possible after the feedback was given. This maintains the momentum of the process and the motivation of the individual. Given the pace of change in many organizations, shorter turn-around times ensure that the feedback is still relevant for the role.

It is important to ensure that people receive feedback when there is support available to interpret the results. Providing a report without support, particularly prior to a weekend or going on holidays, is far from ideal, and can have negative consequences.


Reviewing and evaluating the success of the process is a widely overlooked. The key question to consider is whether the program met its original purpose. If the original purpose was to improve performance, have relevant development needs been identified? If it was to support the performance review process, has the process supplied the required information in a fair and credible way?

Qualitative Review

A qualitative review with the key people involved can provide invaluable information on whether the process has achieved its goals. This review should include individuals receiving feedback, doing the rating, facilitating the feedback and the line managers of those involved. The timing of the review will depend on the original purpose, with more time needed when the purpose was development.

The Questionnaire

How effective is the questionnaire?
  • Was it consistent with and link to other relevant indicators of performance in the organization?
  • Did individuals gather development information?
  • Did raters use the rating system effectively?
  • Was it reliable?
  • Did it ‘look’ right?

Use a system that aggregates data from the questionnaires in order to identify patterns of strengths and development needs across the participating group. This information can be used to feed into development planning at a strategic level, to ensure that the organization has people with the relevant skills to meet its objectives.

The next and last post in this series examines what to look for in a software system to support the effective implementation of 360 Multi-source Feedback in your organization.

 DTI. (2001). 360 Degree Feedback: Best Practice Guidelines. Downloaded from: www.dti.gov.uk/mbp/360feedback/360bestprgdlns.pdf‎
Maylett, T. (2009). 360-Degree Feedback Revisited: The Transition From Development to Appraisal. Compensation & Benefits Review, 41(5), 52–59.
Morgeson, F. P., Mumford, T. V., & Campion, M. A. (2005). Coming Full Circle: Using Research and Practice to Address 27 Questions About 360-Degree Feedback Programs. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 57(3), 196–209.

Want to learn more? Get the Guide!

This guide reviews the best practices for 360 degree feedback, beginning with establishing 360 feedback goals, to process design, project delivery and software platform selection. It also includes a 360 degree feedback checklist for a successful implementation.

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