This document is intended to provide a simple to follow guide for those people who are not professional coaches but who are required to de-brief individuals about their 360 degree appraisal reports. It covers the preparation in terms of mind-set, the in-session delivery in respect to choice of language and approach and the follow up process to the de-brief session.
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According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, to facilitate can be defined as: ‘to make easier or less difficult, to help forward, to assist the progress of’. The person giving feedback on 360-degree reports is the facilitator whose role is to help the individual understand the headlines of their report. Once the individual has clarity on the key behaviour indicators it is the facilitator’s task to assist them in identifying an agreed development pathway in order to maximise strengths, leverage hidden strengths and improve areas that require further development.
Facilitating 360-degree feedback requires the full range of facilitating skills; the feedback can be detailed and extensive. The skills required are similar to the data handling techniques involved in facilitating meetings. The ability to draw lessons from an extensive amount of detail, prioritising and formulating a firm action plan may be what is required. Furthermore, the feedback can be surprising and occasionally unpalatable which can produce a variety of emotions, which the facilitator must help the individual to deal with. Therefore clarity of explanation and some sensitivity in the approach is required.
It is important to set aside your personal biases about the individual and to be open to hearing their point of view. Find a way of presenting and responding to the facts within the report rather than interjecting with your own opinions. We suggest that you could use the following four step feedback model
Step One – Present the information from the 360 degree report
Before the session as the facilitator you need to read and identify items of significance from the report. Look for strong consistencies and inconsistencies. Identify if there are areas of particular strengths and development needs. Are there marked differences between the respondent groups? What questions does the report raise? Can you see inconsistencies and are there patterns occurring? How accurate is the individual’s self-perception? Are there marked gaps between their perceptions and the 360 group as a whole? Increasing self-awareness in order to change behaviours is a key aim of 360 appraisals and so this is an important element of the preparation.
Don’t worry if there are things that you are unable to explain. It is not the facilitator’s job to explain them, but rather to formulate questions that may help you and the individual gain full understanding. The presenting step of the model is for the facilitator to present the facts / data from the 360 report in a non-judgmental and open way. As facilitator you are not the interpreter, you do not have to fully understand the report and explain it all to the individual. The role of the facilitator is to help the individual by asking them questions which help them reach their own clear understanding. During the feedback session ensure that you use language, which clearly puts you in the facilitator role. Instead of saying: “I believe”, use terms like: “the report is telling us”, “it looks like”, “this data suggests” etc.
In preparation for the session, think about how you can sandwich feedback: positive, negative, positive. Example: “The data shows that you are a very strong communicator with the Direct Reports group, whilst with the Peers group the report suggests that you are much less strong; however if we look at your Self view it’s an area where you are confident as a strong communicator. What do you think is affecting the differing view of these groups?”
Step Two – Clarify
Often in deciphering a 360 degree feedback report the individual has a tendancy to focus on their delevelopment needs rather than their strengths. As the facilitator it is important to spend as much time as possible to focus on the individual’s strengths and hidden strengths using open questions and an appreciative inquiry.
Examples of open questions: What were the main positives or highlights of the report for you? Were there any surprises or responses you found difficult to put into context? If this was someone else’s report what would you tell them the key learning points were for them to take away? These questions will help you understand how much the individual has taken on board. At this stage you are not trying to put a development plan in place but the objective is to gain clarity on the aspects of the report the individual wants and needs to focus on for further development.
In brief, appreciative inquiry means shifting the focus off what isn’t working to what is. It’s looking to further leverage and develop the strengths, to build confidence and a positive mindset, both of which will help minimise the impact of any weaknesses.
Prior to your session try to pull out all the positives, even if they are limited. Think about the questions you can ask to help the individual understand what is working for them, in what environment and in what situations they are performing at their best.
Step Three – Influence and agree
There may be some feedback in the report which the individual does not recognise or agree with. It is not uncommon for example that the individual may not initially accept the statistical elements of the report which show a difference in their self-perception and that of those providing feedback. Experience shows that the verbatim comments in the feedback often provide the “lightbulb” or “ah hah” moment and the facilitator should draw on these comments as evidence to support the statistical appraisal. Remember the facilitator is just the “messenger” evidencing the feedback of others and helping the individual to interpret this feedback. It is not the feedback of the facilitator rather a valuable gift from those providing the feedback.
As the facilitator you can also ask open questions which help them to recognise that not everyone sees the world in the same way and thus they may not recognise certain behaviour that others have frequently seen in them. For example a good open question would be: “Can you think of any examples where others such as friends or family have made similar remarks?” We all have blind spots and that is completely normal.
Use: what, who, where, when and how questions, try to limit the use of why as it is more challenging, an example “why do you think this group have responded in this way?” instead use: “what do you believe has elicited this response?” or “what in your view could explain the differences in feedback against this skill across these groups?”
The objective of your questions is for you the facilitator and the individual to gain clarity and understanding of the report.
Step Four – Coach
It is essential that the individual determines their areas for further development and coaching. The table of information categories provides a useful template for the individual to sketch out the areas for further focus and development.
This may be a good time in the process to ask the individual to take a few days to consider the report and decide which areas they would like to discuss at a future session; with either you as the facilitator or perhaps if you are just running one session perhaps with their manager acting as coach.
Ideally the Coaching session should run in the following way: Establish Contract, Explore, Clarify, Plan as follows:
- Establish Contract
Establish safe open-minded environment by contracting for the session. Contracting will incorporate some of the following: is the session completely confidential?, if not what information needs to be shared and with whom?; it is the individual’s session, you are there to facilitate and assist them to get the most out of the session. Are there any concerns that they would like to mention or deal with before starting the session? What needs to happen for them to feel the session has been useful?
Ask the individual to talk you through the table they have completed. Once they have outlined their thinking behind the table you could ask questions like; how can I be helpful so you get the most out of this session? Are there particular areas you would like to explore? It would be good to hear how you have prioritised your areas for development?
All the time you are coaching you need to be aware of your individual’s communication style. For instance if they are very direct and not a lateral thinker asking “are there any particular areas you would like to explore” may just get a straight no. If you believe there are areas to explore you will need to ask this type of individual a different type of question like “I see you have made this development area a 10, if you achieve this change, what impact do you think it will have on you or your team?”
Here is a list of explore questions:
- If you develop these skills how do you think things will improve for you personally?
- If you achieve this change what impact do you think it will have on you or your team?
- How will others notice that you have made changes or improvements and who will notice?
- Who will be able to help you make these changes
- How can you track your progress?
- How realistic are your ambitions for change given your current commitments?
- How will the changes impact on others?
- How real are the changes for you, can you visualise your future self?
- You’ve rated each thing by importance, can you see any that will be easy to implement?
- What may get in the way of you making these changes?
- How can you reduce the possibility of being de-railed?
The aim of all these questions is to open up a discussion that brings more clarity, reality and commitment to the change process. Whilst it is ok to provide the individual with some solutions, try to keep your input to a minimum. Give them time to respond and to find solutions for themselves. There is likely to be more commitment to change if the ideas come from them rather than the facilitator.
Clarifying is summarising the key take-outs from the explore section. The objective of the clarify stage is to help the individual establish their clear goals.
It is important to emphasise that you are working towards the goals of the individual; your language should exemplify this fact. Therefore, you could use the following opening to this section to clarify the key take-outs for development: “Ok so if I summarise back to you what you have outlined to me as your goals, have I captured everything or is there something you would like to add?” or “Now you have heard the summary is there anything you would like to change? or are you happy to move on to the planning stage?”
The objective of this section is to help the individual map out the pathways to achieving their agreed goals. It is important to work to set timelines and ensure there are feedback loops in place to help them stay on track.
You could choose to map out the goals in a Personal Development Plan (PDP – see online performance management) or you could use a table or 1:1 minutes to record the objectives as you prefer. The main thing is for the individual to own their goals and be realistic about achieveing them. The following template can be used to map goals and agreed pathways for the Plan element:
|Goal||By when?||Who will benefit from the change?||How will they know the change has occurred?||Help Who?||Help What?||Help When?||How confident am I of effecting the change? 1 – 10||What needs to happen to improve that score||Re-score 1 – 10||Agreed feedback loop|
|Improve clarity and take outs from briefings||June 2021 Half year briefing||My immediate team||Ad hoc feedback after the session||Line manager||10-minute practice sessions||Monthly 1-2-1s||9||Ensure I always get the 10 min practice||10||Nominate one team member to feedback on this specific skill after every briefing|
Template to map goals and pathways
We hope this document helps you to get the most out of your 360-degree feedback report de-brief process. How you decide to manage this process will depend upon your specific needs and resources. You may cover some or all of this process in a single session or over a number of sessions and you may decide to pick up on some of the ideas and use some or all of the tools discussed. It’s up to you.
It’s sometimes useful to involve different people for different elements of the feedback and coaching. It may be the responsibility of L&D staff to facilitate the entire process but it can also be a good idea to get line management involved after the initial de-briefs to engage with further development planning.
However you decide to manage the process our counsel to you when you commission the 360 appraisal is that you plan through in advance how you are going to use the process to make real behavioural change and impact in your organisation.
We are happy to add value by providing best practice advice on your questionnaire and report content, the set-up, process implementation and individual de-briefing of your 360 project. Feel free to ask us if you would like any further discussion or support or if you would like advice about engaging independent, third party professional facilitators and coaches.
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