After the 360 Review – Follow-up to Maximize Results

360graphic2After investing considerable time and resources to conduct a multi-rater review (360 review), many organizations dilute or destroy its effectiveness by neglecting to implement an effective follow-up plan.  When administered properly, 360 reviews for leadership development provide comprehensive, diverse and multi-viewpoint feedback that can help individuals identify their strengths and areas for improvement.  Once the reports are received and distributed, this is where the work really begins.

Interpreting Results
It is natural that reviewees will feel somewhat anxious when receiving the results of a 360 review, especially if this is the first time.  Training or guidelines for interpreting the data will help them resist the natural reaction to focus unduly on negative results, becoming defensive or attempting to identify who delivered particularly sharp criticism.  They should look instead for patterns of results that show consensus, both in the positive and negative, and try to identify trends that will tell them what behaviors to continue and what areas can be improved.

Planning for Improvement
The heart and soul of the 360 review is the leadership developmental action plan.  Without it, the whole activity is a meaningless waste of time and money.  An action plan begins with a list of key behaviors the reviewee plans to increase, decrease, stop or start, based on what he has learned from the 360 review.  This should be a realistic list; two to four important things to work on rather than a lengthy list that will be unwieldy and impossible to sustain.

Managers play an essential role in helping their subordinates develop and implement realistic action plans that address the issues most critical to the future success of both the employee and the organization. Keeping the multi-rater review reports themselves confidential and any comments anonymous, managers can share summary findings with their reviewees. Taking the 360 review from a static report to a prioritized leadership developmental action plan should be a collaborative effort between the employee who is the subject of the review and the manager.

The manager should also help his employee identify and procure any resources needed to make the plan successful, such as training programs, reading material, special assignments or other opportunities to learn and practice the desired skills.  An internal or external coach can also be engaged to help the employee build and implement the action plan.

Accountability and the Action Plan
Once the leadership development action plan is launched, managers should ensure that the plan is implemented, even in the midst of the conflicting priorities of everyday business.  During this process, managers should watch for evidence of targeted improvements and provide positive feedback to the employee as they emerge.

There is an old axiom that says that what gets measured gets done – the action plan should include measureable milestones. Further, what gets rewarded is even more likely to get done so by folding critical elements of the leadership development action plan into annual organizational objectives, will have an impact on performance reviews. By doing this, managers can bring a powerful level of accountability to the process, increasing the probability of individual and organizational success.

Often the planned improvements contained within the action plan will be observable and gradual improvements (or lack of them) will become obvious.  It can, however, be useful to conduct a follow-up 360 review after six months or so to see if the needle has moved.  Follow-up evaluations are particularly useful when 360 reviews have been conducted across a large portion of the organization, with results rolled up to identify pervasive blind spots and weaknesses in overall leadership.

Whatever method is used to evaluate its success, organizations which follow administration of 360 reviews with structured leadership development action plans, holding employees and managers accountable for their implementation, will glean the most benefit from this powerful leadership development tool.

Click here for more information on Revolution 360TM and Check-Up 360TM.


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