360 Debriefs Can Be Tough. Here's How To Prepare.

360 Debriefs Can Be Tough. Here's How To Prepare.

Rachel Cwang Nov 2, 2017 7:46:00 AM

Invested in a 360-degree feedback tool? Check.

All participants done the survey portion of the 360? Check.

Know exactly how the debriefing session with your 360 candidate is going to go? Uh oh…

Effectively rolling out and implementing a 360 in your organization is a vital step towards more powerful leadership development, but it’s only one side of the coin. Once you’ve collected all the data and feedback relevant to your leader, you’ll have to schedule a time to sit down with them and go through the results. On the surface, this seems easy: book a meeting, chat about the results, and leave the meeting with an even more amazing leader. In reality, of course, it’s not that simple.

Debriefing the results of a 360 can have a significant impact on the leader you’re assessing, and it’s important to take measures to ensure that the process remains positive and productive. Here are five critical steps to ensure your 360 debriefing session is as effective as it can be:

1: Review Supporting Documentation

If you have other elements that give you insight into a leader’s temperament or prevalent personality traits, start here. You’ll want to have a thorough understanding of how they might react as you walk through the 360 results. By preparing ahead of time, you might be able to figure out how to position certain elements of the results in a way that maintains productivity. Plus, the insights you see at this stage may help create context for some of the feedback you’re seeing in the 360 report.

Pro Tip: Check out these 5 awesome benefits to implementing a leadership development process at your company.

2: Plan & Share

Book 2 hours with your leader and consider what to send them in advance. We recommend basing the amount of information shared ahead of time on their natural receptiveness to constructive feedback. If you use a personality assessment, consider sending them their own personality report about 24 hours ahead of your 360 debrief. This is enough time to let them browse through the report and internalize what it says, and it’ll stay fresh in your meeting the next day.

We also recommend that you save the 360 results for your actual debrief meeting. Interpreting the report accurately is vital to the operation, and sending it ahead of time can skew your leader’s perception of what’s going on in the report.

3: Open

Start the meeting with a review of the purpose and a reminder of the Rules Of The Road (which we cover in our Implementation Guide). Reiterate that the results are confidential, the feedback they've received is anonymous, and this feedback reflects a snapshot in time. This way, you’re setting the groundwork for what the leader can expect in the meeting, and you’re also addressing some of the most common questions and reservations that 360 candidates have. This should settle any apprehension your leader has about this meeting, and you’ll be in a good position to have a productive conversation.

4: Review Agenda

Propose an agenda of walking through the report together, looking for insights, patterns and learnings, and then creating an action plan for improvement. Establishing a structure for the meeting can ensure everything stays on track, and you’re setting a goal to achieve together: figure out what your next steps are. This changes the meeting from a superior-to-leader transfer of information to a collaborative mission to hone your leader’s skills. Setting an agenda can also pre-emptively answer some of the questions that typically sidetrack 360 debriefs.

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5: Warm Up

Before diving in, ask your leader what thoughts, questions, concerns or insights they may have based on the process so far. This can help make the 360-degree feedback process even better for future candidates, and it can also provide clarity on unknowns before starting the debriefing process.

Answer any result-based questions as you go through the report. At this stage, you’re really just making sure that your candidate is feeling equipped with the information they need to make this a productive session.

Now you're ready to start debriefing your 360 report. Every 360 is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all system for going through the feedback. But it’s important to remember that your leaders may feel apprehensive when the process starts. By taking some time to set a context for the debriefing session, addressing their concerns, and providing them with relevant information ahead of time, you’ll be empowering your colleagues to take on their leadership development in a more positive, effective way.

Topics: Leadership development, 360 Assessments

Rachel Cwang

Written by Rachel Cwang

Client Success Manager