360 Feedback – Advice for Raters
So you’ve agreed to provide 360 degree feedback on a colleague?
First of all, thank you for agreeing to do this. We recognise that this is a time investment from all of the raters, as well as the Fellows themselves, and that it signifies a strong commitment from the research community to helping Fellows at a crucial point in their ongoing leadership development.
This page shares a few suggestions on how to use our survey to pass on feedback that is is actionable and supportive, allowing the Fellows to understand how their behaviour is impacting others.
In the 360 survey, you will be asked to use a frequency rating to assess the Fellow against a range of competencies and also to provide free-text comments to substantiate your ratings. This is particularly helpful where you have given a high or low score.
1. Use the full range of scores
The ratings are most useful when a full range is used and distinctions can be made between different competencies. Try not to just use a high or average score for everything. If you genuinely are not sure about a score, you can always select ‘N/A’ and then provide a text comment instead.
2. Base your responses on the behaviours that you’ve observed
You may have only observed the Fellow you are rating in certain contexts, and that’s all you need to comment on. Avoid extrapolating or making assumptions about what others are seeing or experiencing. Again, you can select ‘N/A’ where you have not had enough opportunity to observe the behaviour in question, or if you think that the behaviour is not relevant to the Fellow at this time.
Before you start, reflect on the types of situations, projects or meetings that you’ve worked with them on, over the past six months to a year. Think about the different roles they might have taken on. When answering the questions, test your feedback against these specific examples and check that you’re not just responding based on your most recent or memorable interaction.
3. Make your free-text comments actionable
The free-text comments are arguably the most useful sections for the Fellows and you’ll be asked to comment on both the things that they do well and any areas for improvement. Try to make your comments honest and as specific as possible. What you write in these free-text spaces – how much detail you go into – could have the effect of identifying you, so think about the level of anonymity that you are comfortable with (you may be comfortable with being identified: that’s fine too).
Try to avoid vague statements, e.g. ‘excellent communicator’. What sort of communication? When? To whom? What makes it excellent? What is the result or impact of the communication? Try to be specific about the types of situations where they have displayed that behaviour, and the impact it has had on people. For example:
In the XXXX collaboration, the work you undertook to ensure everyone had space to share their own perspective helped to really build trust in the team.
Approachable to more junior colleagues, and regularly speaks up on their behalf.
Will the Fellow be able to take specific actions as a result of the feedback you’ve given in your comments? The action might be that they keep on doing what they’re already doing, because it’s working – and this is still valuable to know.
In suggesting areas for development, be specific about the particular aspect of a role you think they need to develop. For example: rather than saying ‘delegation’, could you indicate some specific contexts where they could do more of this, or do it differently? Is it about how they communicate the task and expectations, or more about the support that they provide to the person they are delegating to?
Sometimes, it can be helpful to explain why you think a certain competency is good to work on, what impact it will have on the team if they can do it better or differently. For example:
Encourage the research team to spend some time stepping back to look at the bigger picture and how their work connects with each others’.
Strengthen your communication of your research vision to wider networks, so that others know where there might be opportunities to connect you with collaborators or funding.
4. Check your assumptions
We all have cognitive and unconscious biases, and it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on whether some of your own biases might be coming into play in your responses, expectations, or language. This could be due to disciplinary differences, as well as possible biases relating to age, gender, or any other protected characteristics.
Try to focus on one question at a time. Be aware of the ‘halo effect’ where you allow your overall impression of someone to influence you to give a high score in every area – or the opposite of this, known as the ‘horn’ effect.
It is fine if you haven’t observed behaviours in a particular area. It might be that you just haven’t had the opportunity to observe them yet, or that this isn’t something that the Fellow hasn’t started to do. It’s still early days for many of the Fellows, and they will continue to work on their leadership skills, learning as they go from constructive feedback and supportive colleagues like you.