Organisations have a vested interest in the performance of its leaders and it can often be difficult to identify exactly how well your leaders are performing and in which areas there is room for improvement. 360-degree feedback tools can assist in answering important questions about leaders’ specific workplace behaviours and style, degree of alignment to organisational goals, values and direction, and their impact on your organisation’s overall performance.
Research shows that 360-degree feedback tools can improve performance and lead to behaviour change over time.
Research consistently demonstrates that 360-degree feedback can promote awareness and improvement in leadership skills and behaviours. This in turn has been associated with improved employee attitudes, job satisfaction, reduced turnover, and higher employee engagement. With organisations striving for a competitive edge, it is not surprising that the use of 360-degree feedback tools for leadership development has increased exponentially in the past decade.
Most agree that a 360-degree feedback tool is an excellent addition to any organisation’s performance development framework. Such tools are commonly used for a diverse range of purposes including interventions, performance evaluation, talent management, executive coaching, and succession planning.
In response to the increasing demand for 360-degree feedback in the workplace, a vast selection of tools are currently available on the market. Such leadership assessment and development tools may be either purchasable off-the-shelf or customisable to your organisation. With numerous tools available, the critical question is: how do you identify the most appropriate 360-degree feedback tool to apply?
Finding the right tool to adequately fit an organisation’s needs and at the same time ensure a high standard of assessment is a difficult and time consuming process. When faced with a myriad of options, organisations often turn to assessment providers to assist in the selection of an appropriate 360-degree feedback tool. However, assessment providers usually find one tool which they feel comfortable delivering and consequently suggest the use of that tool to all of their customers. This poses the question “can one 360 degree feedback tool effectively service every organisation?” Clearly the answer is “no”, as there are a multitude of complex factors which drive organisational differences.
To service the varied needs of a diverse client base, it is essential that assessment providers have the ability to select the right tool dependent on the individual and distinct needs of the situation.
Furthermore, it is argued that adopting a rigorous and systematic approach for the evaluation and selection of 360-degree feedback tools is best practice. A case study in how to select a 360-degree feedback tool utilising a step-wise approach is outlined on the following page. Ultimately, any tool that is recommended for use at your organisation should be supported by research and incorporates a science-based model of leadership.
In order to build the capabilities of your leaders through 360-degree feedback, first you must choose the right foundation. That is, select an appropriate assessment tool. PeopleScape recently conducted a systematic review of 360-degree assessment tools suitable for executive-level leaders. Given the myriad of available tools on the market, an initial list of tools deemed suitable for executive-level leaders was selected. A list of 13 tools was chosen to appraise in more detail following a broad web search and consultation with colleagues, academics, and industry peers.
In order to conduct a systematic evaluation, first the criteria must be determined to ensure a fair appraisal of all tools. It was determined there was considerable variability across the tools in terms of items, visual output, language, lead times and psychometric properties. Ultimately, the tool that was to be selected needed to be supported by research and incorporate a leadership model that adequately covered the competencies required for an executive-level leader.
Key criteria included:
Under the right conditions and with appropriate application, researchers have found the 360 degree feedback tool can facilitate successful behavioural change. Careful consideration must be given to the right conditions and appropriate application of this kind of assessment at your organisation. Additionally, care must be taken when administrating a 360-degree feedback tool. Poor administration of this type of tool has been found to lead to both disengagement and a decline in performance.
Utilising the right 360-degree tool, complimented with the correct interpretation and support significantly reduces the risks for organisations. It recommended considering partnering with experienced organisational psychologists and executive leadership consultants, who are qualified and highly skilled in interpreting 360-degree feedback results to initiate and sustaining positive behaviour.