In coaching we all want a 360 feedback tool that focuses on the coaching topic, engages our client, is easy to administer and doesn’t cost a lot. Well the good news is that such a tool exists and it’s free!
Disadvantages of Traditional 360 Feedback Instruments in Coaching
The production of 360 feedback instruments has become a lucrative industry. You can buy 360 tools ‘off the shelf’ or, as many companies have done you can have them designed around your own competency model.
However because they tend to cover a lot of people in different types of roles the questions can cover very broad competencies e.g. leadership skills. This could cover so many things from performance management to supplying a vision for the future. As a result for 1:1 coaching purposes the feedback can be too vague and not relevant to the specific coaching objectives. Having said that if a 360 has recently been done it would be a bit silly to ignore it.
Traditional 360 feedback instruments can also be expensive and time consuming to administer
Perfect 360 Feedback Tool For Coaching
In coaching it’s important to use a tool that engages clients, has credibility and is not overly time consuming to prepare. So what could be better than a 360 feedback tool that is designed by the client!
This might sound like it’s a bit amateurish but the end result is a 360 feedback the client is committed to use and to act on the feedback. With traditional 360s it can end up with an argument about why the scores are what they are – the respondents chosen, someone with an axe to grind, a misunderstanding about the question etc.
Creating a Coaching 360 Feedback Tool
Where 360 feedback might be helpful for clients we take the coaching topic and ask our clients to create 6-8 questions that will provide the information they need to help their coaching. For instance the topic might be about building personal impact and influence and the client may have been told in the objectives that more general versus functional input is important at meetings with peers. So one of the questions might be ‘How do you feel about my contribution to topics outside my functional area at meetings?’ The most important thing is that the client designs the relevant questions (with a bit of help from the coach). So the questions may sometimes be slightly leading, but they are intended to generate awareness and a conversation.
We would generally suggest that for each question there is some qualitative feedback and where appropriate a score out of 5 or 10. This provides good data to work with in coaching. It also means that the 360 can be run again at the end of coaching to see what improvements have been made.
It is always valuable to talk through who the client intends to get feedback from in the organisation and why these respondents have been chosen. Normally clients seek feedback from around 4 – 6 people. Where ever appropriate we would recommend the client meets with those giving feedback on a face to face basis. This helps understanding of the feedback and strengthens relationships. Where this might be a problem the coach can manage the feedback. This is normally done on the basis of ‘feedback themes’ and average scores.
This approach works really well for our clients and it has provided them (and us) with good feedback on successfully they have achieved their coaching objectives.
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