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Going global – 360 feedback for multinational organisations

Whether you call it ‘360 degree feedback’, ‘all round feedback’, ‘360 appraisal’ or ‘360 review’, the 360 feedback process is an established part of life in most large banking and finance organisations. At its best, it provides a unique opportunity to develop self-awareness, with resulting improvements in competence and performance. It’s also a good way to evaluate the impact of learning and development or culture change programmes.

The 360 questions usually reflect the key competencies for the individual’s role. However, it’s also possible to run 360 feedback against other criteria such as the ability to manage change or lead the implementation of a new way of working. In every case, it’s about helping the individual to ‘see themselves as others see them’ so that they can plan ways to improve.

The aim of the 360 process is to identify strengths and development needs and agree a personal development plan that will deliver real improvements in the individual’s skills, behaviours and performance at work.

In multinational organisations 360 feedback can provide further benefits:

  • It offers a way to connect international groups of employees such as high potential individuals or senior leaders as part of cross-border development programmes or project teams. One of our clients, an international provider of software services, uses a 360 tool to connect multinational groups working through their global Talent Programmes. There is a single 360 platform and process that individuals in different countries use to gather feedback on their strengths and development areas. The fact that there is a single reporting format makes it easy for individuals to work with facilitators at the company’s international Talent Events to interpret their results.
  • It provides a way to drive alignment across national and cultural boundaries against the values and behaviours that are required to deliver medium term strategy. Another cda client is using our 360 feedback tool (®cdafeedback) to assess senior leaders around the world against the competencies required to deliver the company’s medium term business vision. The same 360 questions are available in several languages so that leaders can gather feedback from their teams in local language, but an overview of competency gaps and uplifts can be tracked by the global team leading the programme.

So the opportunity to use a single platform can help banking and finance multinationals to get the most from their 360 programme by simplifying the process, streamlining administration and allowing the consolidation of data for the group as a whole.

There are many suppliers of online 360 tools, but relatively few that can accommodate parallel surveys in multiple languages. Cda feedback is a flexible tool which offers this functionality together with some other distinctive features.

  • It is completely flexible, offering the opportunity to use a standard 360 template questionnaire, or a questionnaire designed to reflect the organisation’s own competencies and values
  • It can accommodate a wide mix of different question types, including rating scales, ‘yes/no’ answers and free-form narrative comments and also allows the organisation to specify the categories of respondents who will be providing the feedback, for example ‘linemanager’, ‘direct report’
  • The process is fully automated and confidential, and managed via the cdafeedback website
  • A single 360 questionnaire can be run in parallel in several languages, with the introductory website pages, the 360 questionnaire and the Personal Feedback Report all being in language
  • The system can be configured to run an automatic Follow Up 360 survey, which tracks changes against the development areas identified in the Personal Feedback Report – providing a way to measure the effectiveness of a development programme
  • The 360 questionnaire can also be configured to include the individual’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These can be included in the Follow Up 360 survey, providing a way to measure the impact of the development programme on business performance
  • The system and the Personal Feedback Report can be branded to include the organisation’s own logo and reflect their Corporate Identity

This functionality provides a great tool for companies wishing to use 360 feedback with multinational groups to understand levels of competence or performance and track the changes resulting from a development intervention, such as a leadership programme or talent programme.

Once the 360 survey process has been thought through there are other factors to consider.

  • It’s important to ensure that the respondents providing feedback do so in a way which is constructive, supportive and aimed at helping the individual to develop. A key part of the set-up of the 360 process must be to ensure that respondents understand the requirement to remain objective, fair and constructive.
  • There can sometimes also be a challenge around the selection of the respondents who will provide feedback. The aim is to achieve a representative mix of positive and negative feedback – not just to gather positive feedback from friends! Sometimes it’s helpful to provide clear directions on the number of respondents that the individual should nominate in each category and to ensure that the respondents’ names are agreed at the start of the process.
  • It’s also important to make sure that the 360 feedback is fully understood by the individual and used to make positive changes. It’s natural to focus on the negatives, and our advice is that a 360 feedback process should always include some 1:1 time with an expert, independent facilitator to review the Personal Feedback Report, recognise both the positives and the negatives and plan the development required to improve.
  • Finally, it’s important to plan what will happen after the 360 feedback process has been completed. What will the individual do with his or her development plan? What support will they receive? How will their progress be monitored? The individual’s line manager must play a key role at this stage to ensure that the learning objectives are recognised and supported as part of day to day performance management activity.

It may also be necessary to adapt the process to reflect the legal requirement in a specific country. For example, in some markets local legislation may prevent the full 360 process being implemented. In that situation, it may be sensible to rely on self-assessment or 180 feedback (that is, taking feedback only from the individual and their manager).  In other parts of the world, for example the Far East, 360 feedback may be culturally difficult and require an amended feedback process and additional support.

Any global programme of 360 feedback is made more complex by the requirement to work on a large scale, remotely, across business territories, cultures and timezones. Strong, committed leadership is required to ensure that all the resources are in place to make the 360 feedback programme a success.

 So overall…

360 feedback has many benefits when used as part of global development or change programmes. However the challenges can be significant and it’s important to select a tool that can run the 360 survey in multiple languages and provide reporting on the global picture. Managing 360 across national boundaries can be very complex and a clear commitment from the organisation’s senior leaders is required to make the programme a success.

Caroline Dunk is a Director at cda

 “To find out more about 360 visit the cda website. “