When Mentors have agreed to providing participants in a development programme with the results of their 360 degree feedback their role "takes on new clothing".
The Mentor role is extremely important to the 360 degree process, and needs to be carried out well to ensure that the participant gets the maximum out of the feedback. Effective facilitation of the feedback session will enable individuals to get the most out of this development opportunity. Ineffective facilitation is likely to disable the existing mentoring relationship and prevent the participant hearing their feedback.
It seems sensible, first, for the Mentor to have a twenty minute or so ‘contracting’ conversation about the 360 degree tool and what the participant hopes to gain from using it. Areas to discuss could include the following:
What are your expectations of this process?
How have you prepared for receiving this feedback?
How did you chose and then communicate with your raters?
How might you take the feedback and turn it into development goals?
What help do you expect from me as your Mentor?
The level of trust established between the participant and Mentor will influence the effectiveness of the process. The principle objective of the Mentor should be to create an atmosphere in which the individual feels that they can hear, explore and respond to the feedback they gain from the 360 degree process.
As part of the contract with the participant Mentors will:
• Not disclose the specific content of feedback meetings to a third party without the participant’s explicit consent.
• Not allow access by any third party to the participant’s report without having first obtained the participant’s explicit consent.
• Not take specific action on any issue raised in the feedback meeting without the participant’s consent.
• Not use the feedback data to judge the participant.
• Not prescribe actions for the participant.
Mentors would be well advised to cover all of these points with the participant at the beginning of the feedback interpretation meeting.
The Structure of the Feedback Interpretation Meeting
The purpose of the feedback interpretation meeting is to:
• Enable the participant to understand their feedback report.
• Enable the participant to summarise the strengths and development themes that emerge from discussion of the report.
• To assist the participant in identifying areas to be taken forward in a personal development plan.
To achieve this, the Mentor and participant should work in partnership to reach understanding of:
• what the participant wants from their feedback report
• the format and data in the 360 report
• the participants perceptions of their strengths and needs against the framework and in the context of their current role as well as career and life aspirations
• gaps between self/others perception
• possible reasons for different perceptions
• qualities and behaviours in context using examples
• development themes
The length of the feedback meeting
As suggested above, I recommend that Mentors schedule an initial 20-30 minute contracting meeting with the participant to explore what they want to get out of the process, show them their report and outline how it is structured. Mentors should ask participants to look at their report and identify the key areas that they wish to concentrate on. Leave their report with them and follow this initial meeting with the full feedback session the following day. This allows the participant some time to think about what they wish to get out of the session and will prepare them for the full feedback session.
I recommend that Mentors allow at least one hour for the full feedback session.
Additional development planning meeting
The Mentor should be prepared to offer a development planning session with the participant after the feedback session. This may take place a few days after the feedback interpretation meeting and will focus on how the participant will focus their approach to further development in the light of the feedback they have heard and accepted.
Remind the Mentor that the feedback session may be quite intense, particularly if this is the first 360 assessment the participant has completed. It may surface some personal issues and is therefore not always the appropriate time to look at further development planning.
The feedback integration session is confidential and the Mentor should not provide any information to a third party without the written consent from the participant.
The participant is the owner of their report.
The Mentor is best advised not to keep any records of their feedback meeting with the participant.