A HOW-TO GUIDE FOR PROFESSIONALS
This guide provides some valuable insights on how to conduct a professional feedback session with a client who is about to see his/her 360 degree report for the first time.
The guide walks you through an easy-to-remember process with some key milestones and hints, it also talks about some common defense mechanisms you may encounter as a facilitator during the feedback session.
Finally, this guide supports you in keeping your eye on the overall objective: That the client – receiving feedback – should get some tangible and valuable insights that he/she can transform into positive actions and behaviours.
Although the guide is detailed in some aspects, it is recommended that the professional facilitator use this guide as a handrail and not as a handcuff. Each session is unique – and so is the style of the facilitator!
Part 1: Setting the scene (Approx. 30-45 min + 10 min)
People usually experience mixed feelings before and into a feedback session. Before the actual session is about to begin – with you as the professional facilitator – many people feel a mix of curiosity, awkwardness, excitement or even worry. Therefore, your first task as a facilitator is to bring down any tension as fast as possible to increase the client’s listening ability and overall receptiveness for feedback.
Here are some milestones:
1. Your preparation (app 30-45 minutes pre-work): Make sure you come well prepared to the meeting. This means having read through the client’s report and memorized some key points such as:
a. Exceptionally high or low scores (absolute comparisons)
b. Notable discrepancies in scores from managers vs. colleagues vs. subordinates (relative intra-group comparisons)
c. Notable deviations, positive or negative, in self scoring vs. others scoring (self-image validity)
d. Any comments in the open text section that support your findings under (a-c) above
e. Any patterns that run through the report i.e. are specific behaviors or competences interlinked in
this report in any way?
2. Introduction with client (app 5 minutes):
a. Starting from the client’s state of mind: The feedback session is conducted in a quiet room without interruption. No office landscapes, mobile phones ringing or people entering asking questions etc. Before starting the actual session, try to gauge the client’s state of mind to ensure attentiveness and low stress levels. Simply asking: “How are you today” or: “What were your feelings/thoughts before coming to this session today” will give some hints to whether the client’s mind is receptive or occupied with other things. Also, asking: “Tell me a little bit about your raters and why you chose them” is a good way of exploring relationship status before the actual feedback session starts.
b. Purpose: State the purpose of the session i.e. “That you will get insights to what your strengths are and that you will leave with two things for personal development to work on”. You should also ask the client: “What would YOU like to get out of this session?” At this stage in the feedback session process it is important to point out to the client that there is no competition in the numbers, it’s all about personal development!
3. Practical but important data (app 5 minutes): Last thing before you enter into analysis of the report together, communicate some practical data to the client such as:
a. The session is expected to last… (i.e. 50 minutes)
b. “My role in this session is being a coach. I will not tell you what is right or wrong, but I will work together with you so that you can see the themes coming through in the report and therefore draw your own conclusions ”
c. “I (the facilitator) have no idea who – apart from your manager (who is not anonymous of course) – gave you what rating/comments in the report”
d. “I operate under strict confidentiality i.e. what you say to me will not be told further to your manager, HR or anyone else. However the aggregated and anonymized results of all participating rated persons will be compiled into a report for…” (fill in blank)
e. Communicate to the person what will happen after your feedback session i.e. “The aggregated information will be used for….”
f. Say to the person that it is “up to you to keep your report as confidential as you want to, but since a number of people have put their best efforts and good intentions into rating you, our recommendation is that you say ‘thanks’ to these people and also communicate something on what value/insights/ideas for action their feedback triggered with you”