360 degree feedback from your research team

360 degree feedback involves gathering and comparing feedback on an individual's leadership practice, from others who are above them, alongside them and in less senior roles in their organisation.

The power of 360 degree feedback is that it offers the individual a 'reality check'; a set of different perspectives on their performance rather than, or in addition to, the conventional line manager appraisal. For a PI, insight into how members of the research team (and other colleagues) perceive their leadership can be helpful in a number of ways:

  • building confidence. Often others have a more positive view of you than you think!
  • Identifying aspects of your leadership that have had a really positive impact
  • Identifying areas of your leadership practice that you might want to change or improve.

Often the process is based around a relatively straightforward questionnaire: one version (self rating) that the individual completes him/herself and another version (others ratings) that is distributed to colleagues at different levels in the organisation. The anonymous results are then compared and differences in perceptions between the individual's self rating and the ratings given by others are used to inform development conversations and activities.

Alternatively the process can be co-ordinated by a skilled coach who telephones/meets the key colleagues and gathers feedback face-to-face. The summarised feedback is then collated and shared face-to-face with the individual.

In both cases, the individual idenfies the colleagues to be approached to participate and obtains agreement. However confidentiality is paramount and all feedback is themed and anonymous.

Senior managers' experiences of 360° feedback

The 360° feedback exercise was very well handled. The coach telephoned the six key colleagues that I had selected for feedback and gathered their comments. Their anonymity was protected. The whole process, as it was fed back to me, felt confidential but very detailed and worthwhile. An excellent experience and one that I would recommend to others. (a head of school)

The 360° experience was very useful. It was fascinating to hear about how I was perceived by others and it gave me two key areas to focus on, which with the support of the coach led to improved relationships and subsequently improved the effectiveness of the institute. (a director of a research institute)

Coaching and especially 360° feedback gave me some powerful messages/clues about where I needed to focus my energy. It was extremely enlightening and useful. (a pro-vice-chancellor)

360° feedback gave me some excellent pointers about how to focus my coaching on key issues which would help me be more effective. (a director of service)

360° feedback has increased my self awareness no end. It has helped me to see how others see me and in a couple of areas has helped me to modify my behaviour. (a head of school)

Read more about 360° feedback on the CIPD website.