It is essential that you educate the people being rated as to why they are being rated. If they are wary and do not trust your intentions, they can sabotage your initiative through their resistance to participate. If the 360 feedback program is developmental, tell them so. Let people know that they are not going to be fired, demoted, or penalized based on the results. The more information you can provide up-front, the more willing they will be to participate. Some important pieces of information to address include:
Respondents are being asked to take time out of their busy days to fill out the survey. Some respondents will likely be asked to provide feedback on several of their coworkers. Let the respondents know how their answers will be used, who will see them, and why they are being asked to give feedback. Keep in mind that giving feedback can be threatening to respondents. Be sure to emphasize that all feedback they provide will be anonymous and confidential.
Your initiative will be more successful if you have the vocal support of the leaders of your organization. Have them help you kick off your feedback program and make sure they communicate to all employees that this is something they consider important. An email message or announcement from the CEO or Business Unit leader is a good way to let employees know that your 360 feedback program has support at the highest levels.
If people do not feel comfortable giving feedback, they may not be as candid or forthright in the feedback they give - or they may simply not participate. If people do not feel comfortable getting feedback, they may resist participating or be less open to the feedback they receive.
In order to get candid feedback and make sure people are comfortable receiving feedback, it is important that you convey to both participants and respondents that the 360 assessment is anonymous and confidential. This is often most effectively accomplished if a neutral third party conducts the surveys. Respondents will feel more comfortable giving honest feedback to a third party, and participants will feel more comfortable getting feedback from an outside source.
Keep in mind that for every person receiving feedback, several more people will be providing feedback. If a large number of people will be receiving 360 feedback, potential respondents can get quickly overwhelmed with requests to provide feedback. Consider the following suggestions to avoid this situation:
Timelines: Every request for feedback will include a date by which respondents need to reply. The ideal amount of time is anywhere from 10 to 14 days. If the time is shorter, people might not get to it before the deadline. If the time is longer, they will likely forget about it. Plan to send reminders a few days before the feedback deadline. If possible, you should also allow for a few extra days at the end for stragglers.
Response Modes: You should encourage respondents to provide feedback via the internet. This will save you the trouble of collecting and tabulating data yourself. But you can also offer respondents the option to fill out a paper version if they prefer. Some respondents may not have access to the internet or may find time to provide feedback when they are not in front of a computer (e.g. while traveling).
Thank Respondents: Once you are done collecting data, be sure to send a thank you message to respondents. Remind them of how their feedback will be used.