How to control the emotional response to 360 degree feedback

The real power of 360 degree feedback lies in the way the recipient is left. When you’re sat across from a nervous or guarded individual, you’ll be met with a number of emotional tactics linked to the natural human fight or flight response. When developmental or problem areas are raised recipients are going to have to accept new perspectives or new truths about themselves – something that is far from easy knowing data has come from their friends and colleagues.

Who is the ideal recipient?
All recipients have the potential to surprise you, even if you think they are going to react well or badly. An ideal recipient is someone who acknowledges all the data presented to them and agrees confidently to make changes to suit their own developmental needs. These individuals tend to be the most ambitious, but that’s not to say they won’t have the odd niggling concern. As a result, it is safer to presume that everyone has insecurities that will need to be addressed and to prepare for some of the common ones ahead of time.

Can you predict reactions to 360 degree feedback?
To some extent you can predict emotional responses based on your purpose for doing the 360 degree feedback survey in the first place. If it was implemented to support the performance management of struggling individuals, it’s likely there will be some contentious aspects. However, if it was implemented to encourage and enable personal development, recipients may be shocked to discover their colleagues’ opinions.

[[Read more]] Easy ways to make your feedback more impressive for the recipient

What are the common ways that people respond to feedback?
During your 360 degree feedback session it is advisable to prepare for some of the more consistent ways in which individuals respond;

+ Justification – the individual argues their data is the result of other factors or colleagues
+ Denial – recognising the data but refusing to acknowledge it through missing appointments or ‘losing’ the report
+ Minimising – arguing the data doesn’t mean anything and is therefore not worth worrying about
+ Resignation – the individual is struck with feeling of uselessness, often accompanied by anger or frustration
+ Giving up – this can mask real emotions and hurt, encouraging them to wallow as opposed to fight for change and development
+ Projection – their upset becomes fixed on something else, like their boss or the 360 feedback process as a whole.
+ Blame – a facet of projection that sees the individual hoist blame onto a third party

How can these coping strategies be minimised?

We all know that no matter how many nice words are said about us, it is the negative ones that leave the biggest mark. Some recipients may take factors of your report extremely personally or believe there is something wrong with them, which is why you need to give them chance to digest the data first. Send each recipient their report 48-hours ahead of their planned coaching session – this should help them bring their initial gut reactions under control without giving them enough time to dwell on the perceived negative aspects of their feedback. During a feedback session give recipients the chance to air their feelings, while also prepping some answers to some regular queries about data…

“How good is this?”
“Why are my reviewers rating me differently?”
“Who is right?”
“How does my 360 compare with others?”

Is the person okay?
Expecting an individual to dive back into work after a tough feedback session is a lot to ask, which is why we recommend telling participants the following;

“If you are ok with your data then feel free to discuss and share your 360 degree feedback with anyone you choose, but if you are at all not ok then it means you are not ready and you should definitely get some more support or coaching first.”

The key is to ensure individuals are in a position to take full responsibility for their feedback – good or bad. If they are in control of their feedback they are more likely to take it on their path to transformation as opposed to rejecting it.

[[Read more]] Spotting the early warning signs before things go wrong

For more on this and other incredibly powerful insights and advice, get your copy of 360 Feedback : A Transformational Approach today.

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