In praise of 360 feedback sessionsPosted: July 15, 2013
- Announce the time for the 360 session(s) at least a day in advance.
- Divide randomly into small groups of four to six people.
- Create an Ideaboardz instance for each group, with a category for each person (of course, you could use other digital or physical tools)
- Have everyone post virtual stickies for the people in his or her group.
- Have someone volunteer to go first.
- That person reads aloud the stickies that he has received.
- For each one, he can ask for clarification or ideas from the group to affirm a positive or suggest improvements.
- Everyone goes in turn.
- Having a small group of peers allows richer feedback, as teammates can provide more explanation, examples or elaboration.
- It removes some of the awkwardness of one-on-one feedback.
- Realtime, face-to-face feedback is better than email-solicited feedback.
- It complements retrospective-style feedback, which is typically not focused on individual or personal feedback but on team and process feedback.
- Negative feedback can be affirmed, “rounded out” and better contextualized by peers.
- It tends to foster a more intimate, trusting team atmosphere.
A few words of caution: As with retrospectives, having managers or positionally superior people in the room can inhibit the quality of feedback. As coach, I tried to participate in one feedback session with four of the grads as “equal” (I had my own list of virtual post-its and shared in turn). But it was difficult for the grads to see me as a peer: Oftentimes, they would turn to me and express feedback about someone else who was sitting across the table (“I like how Joe asked questions while we were pairing.”). I of course politely but firmly told them to not talk to me but to the person to whom they were giving feedback. 🙂