The struggle with 360-degree feedback does not always deal with the act of giving feedback in itself. Rather, it might deal with trying not to be burnt out while attempting to give good, actionable feedback to a number of people.
When it’s time for 360-degree feedback, a single person might be expected to give feedback to just one person or to ten people or more. Giving feedback to one person is easy. You can expend enough energy on it and do a really good job. But what do you do when you have to give 360-degree feedback to more than one person? How can you give them good feedback without being exhausted by every act of it?
Here are some do’s and don’ts that can help!
Be honest with feedback
The key to good 360-degree feedback is honesty. If you are not being honest when giving your feedback, you are doing the recipient a disservice. You might not want to step on someone’s toes or seem overly critical or worse, worry about hurt feelings but it’s important to remember that emotional reactions are a byproduct of feedback. Don’t let that fear prevent you from giving honest feedback!
Some people have trouble giving feedback that does not sound blunt or downright brusque. On the other hand, there are people who would love to give feedback that spills over into paragraphs or pages. Rein in your impulses to be laconic or verbose and instead, be absolutely specific. Answering feedback based on the questions asked allows recipients to understand the cause behind the feedback as well as understand it better.
Don’t expect the feedback to be used
There’s a good chance that whatever feedback you give the recipient for a 360-degree feedback review might not be used or even applied. 360-degree feedback is a way to collect different perspectives from multiple sources in order to get rid of bias. Sometimes, that feedback may be utilized, sometimes it may not be. This does not mean you should skimp out on giving feedback. There’s a good chance that your manager noted what you mentioned, or the recipient made a note as well and they might choose to apply it later on or ignore it in favor of other things.
Feedback based on false assumptions/notions is dangerous
Giving feedback to a peer or manager whose work you know well is one thing. Because then you know exactly what to say, what qualities you need to focus on, and the areas in which they can improve. But giving feedback to someone you don’t know very well and whose work you have no clue about, is dangerous. This is because you are essentially giving feedback based on half-formed ideas, assumptions or hearsay.
Since honesty is the precept one must follow when giving feedback, giving feedback to someone whose work you don’t know very well is quite simply dangerous. For one, it might make the recipient question the veracity of all the other feedback they have received. Another, it might derail the enter 360-degree feedback process. If you receive a feedback request from a recipient you are not well acquainted with, the best thing you can do is decline!
Take note of your wording and framing
Be careful about how you frame and word your feedback. The right choice of words and tone is important simply because in the case of 360-degree feedback, it’s not as if the recipient can read your face for facial cues and understand. Feedback given verbally is quite different from feedback on the paper. You don’t want to convey the wrong message.
When giving 360-degree feedback to someone, it’s good to examine your intentions behind the feedback. Do you want to be helpful? Do you want to make an observation? Or do you want to share some constructive criticism? Identifying your intent behind giving feedback will not only help you frame it accordingly, but it also will be helpful to the recipient since they know where exactly you are coming from. You are welcome to mix all three aspects when giving feedback, however, make sure you are absolutely clear about what you want to say and remember to clearly define what’s a criticism, an observation, or a suggestion. Don’t use compliment sandwiches!
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Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.