360 feedback is a highly useful tool for gaining greater insights about your professional conduct. But you have to be open to it to reap the benefits. So, let’s look at how best to take 360 feedback at work.

As you’re probably aware, 360 feedback is the act of taking feedback from a variety of sources. In the past, we’ve talked about how to give effective 360 feedback.

Personality plays a key role in feedback effectiveness. If you’re dismissive or argumentative, it’s much less likely to sink in.

How does 360 feedback work?

Typically speaking, 360 feedback takes the form of questionnaires rather than face to face dialogue. And it should involve colleagues from as many levels of the company as possible.

Naturally, this includes your immediate co-workers. But also managers and executive staff you’ve worked with. And your own subordinates if applicable.

The questions given to a participant depend on which category they’re part of. For example, you’d need different insights from an executive or manager than a ground-level colleague.

That said, it’s not necessary to question the line manager. This is because line managers are already an employee’s most regular source of ongoing feedback. The point of 360 feedback is to analise employee conduct from different angles.

How to get the most out of 360 feedback

Getting 360 feedback can be quite stressful for employees. Especially if they didn’t ask for it. After all, it’s a lot of information to take in. And, compared to managerial feedback, there’s a much higher likelihood of conflicting advice.

It’s hard to know when to begin. And, unlike with managerial feedback, you don’t necessarily have an established rapport with all the participants. So, here are some tips on how to get the most out of this type of feedback when it happens.

Focus on the big picture

If you’re eager to make the most of 360 feedback, it’s tempting to go through it with a fine-toothed comb. And sure, it’s important to make sure you read through it all properly.

But don’t lose the forest for the trees. Again, since it’s from multiple sources, 360 feedback won’t always line up perfectly. And you can waste a lot of time obsessing over the finer details.

Instead, you should look for shared points and common themes in 360 feedback. If, for example, many of the respondents say you need to improve your timekeeping, they probably have a point.

Even bad feedback is good for you

A lot of people hate to get negative feedback. And the consequences can be disastrous. Only around 10% of employees with negative feelings from managerial feedback feel engaged. And four out of five report seeking new employment.

But negative feedback plays an important role in personal development. Of course, that’s not to discount the impact of positive feedback and employee recognition. But there’s so much you can learn from your mistakes.

Taking 360 feedback from different types of colleagues

With feedback coming from so many sources, it can be difficult to prioritise. Should you pay more attention to what your immediate co-workers say, or insights from managers and executives?

You might defer to the feedback of those above you because they’re the people controlling your career development. Or you might prioritise what those on your team say, since they have the most firsthand experience of how you work.

But these are also the reasons why you shouldn’t disregard any section of your respondents. You never really know who’s going to have the deepest insights.

Follow up on 360 feedback

If you want to make the most of 360 feedback at work, then follow up on it. Even if it’s just to thank people for their help, it creates a more positive experience for everyone. And that’s important for a thriving workplace culture.

But you also shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. Questionnaires don’t always allow for a lot of context. So, follow-up questions can give you a better understanding of what people meant with their comments.

Of course, some companies run 360 feedback anonymously. In which case, your best bet is to go through 360 feedback results with your line manager.

Don’t take it personally

One of the biggest challenges for 360 feedback (or any form of criticism) is when people don’t like what they hear. And this can make it hard for feedback givers to do their job. In fact, almost 70% of managers are averse to communicating with employees. And it’s largely because they dislike giving feedback.

So, it’s important not to take negative 360 feedback personally. Of course, social politics do happen. But most people are trying to be honest with the feedback they offer.

Even if you don’t agree with what’s said, an extreme reaction gets you nowhere. So, set your emotions aside and try to figure out where they’re coming from.

360 feedback adds to ongoing feedback

The ultimate aim of 360 feedback is to add to existing feedback processes. Not to replace them. As such, the aim isn’t really to measure performance. More the how and why of the way you work.

360 feedback looks at your general workplace conduct. Like how you communicate with others, and your reliability. It should give you a better idea of the impressions you make on others. But, like any form of workplace feedback, you have to be open if you want to benefit.

So, we hope our list of tips can help you to keep a cool head and make the most of 360 feedback when it’s offered.

Want to see how we can help you make feedback part of your everyday culture?