The 360° is a strong tool for developing managerial skills – as long as it is not understood as being for assessment purposes. This can be a sensitive approach, especially for organisations who are taking the plunge for the first time. What are the pitfalls to avoid in order to get the best out of it?
A 360° approach involves making an inventory of an individual’s managerial practices and behaviours based on different people’s perceptions. While the ‘observed’ manager does a self-assessment through a questionnaire, a group made up of at least 1 superior, 3 peers and 3 collaborators is invited to answer the same questions. Objective: to help the manager(s) identify areas and actions for individual and collective development. “The 360° is mainly for companies that want to make a change. However, this tool is not suited for times of high crisis, following a job protection plan for example, because the observers’ experience of the situation in the company may affect their perception of their manager. This can lead to distrust,” explains Sylvie David-Hine, Senior consultant and 360° expert.
If the boss does not involve themselves, how can they get employees to take it seriously when doing collective campaigns? “This is a brave approach which exposes the subject to scrutiny from their close professional circle. The initiative is therefore not only the responsibility of the management committee and the HR management but it must also be encouraged – and in a way legitimised – by the exemplary approach of the managers who must participate in the exercise themselves,” observes the expert.
Starting the project without taking the time to communicate
A 360° approach requires too much involvement to be a success without prior communication – particularly within organisations where this approach is not part of the culture. “The company must communicate about the project and its objective, and therefore place the 360° approach in a global context,” advises Sylvie David-Hine.
It is also about alleviating employees’ concerns by stressing that the purpose of the approach is development rather than assessment. You should then immediately state the 3 key rules: the voluntary basis of participation of observed employees/managers, the anonymity of respondents and confidentiality of individual results even among internal HR.
‘The subject must be prepared to do some self-analysis.’
Imposing the approach on a sceptical or reluctant manager
The voluntary basis is one of the key factors of success for a 360° approach. “The subject must be prepared to do some self-analysis. They must take an active role in the approach and want to develop themselves. To do this they must accept the questioning, without which the approach may just turn out to be an analysis… with nothing behind it,” meaning no development plan, the expert warns. Some people may feel obliged to participate in a 360° approach, especially when it comes to collective campaigns. This comes across during the approach and limits the benefits. “Voluntary participation is a fundamental principle and should always be verified individually,” concludes PerformanSe.