Why it’s worth giving your business a 360 review

Monday 10 August 2020
Usually associated with performance reviews, 360 reviews can be used to evaluate what works and what doesn’t in an organisation – particularly as we work out the new normal as the initial dust has settled from the pandemic
Two people smiling and pointing at laptop screen

As nurses very publicly left the organisation due to alleged bullying and harassment, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust decided that its approach to how it reviewed bullying and harassment claims needed a proper investigation.

The Good Governance Institute (GGI) was brought on board to conduct the review. The GGI conducts 360 reviews of organisations in order to undertake what is working and what isn’t in an organisation. As part of its methodology, it interviewed 100 people at different levels of the Trust, a further 724 staff responded to a survey, and testimony was gathered from internal and external stakeholders. This gave them a complete view of the organisation and its problems.

The review found serious failings in the Trust’s policy for dealing with bullying and harassment, with inconsistent views as to what constituted bullying. Senior staff and board members felt the Trust’s culture was positive, and felt that the staff which complained about bullying “did not want to be performance managed.”

Across the rest of the organisation, however, staff felt undervalued and found the complaints process “draining and painful”. Clinical staff said that their concerns about patient safety had not been listened to. The report generated more negative press for the Trust, but with its new CEO pledging to take action, the organisation was able to turn a corner.

A 360 review can be brutal and difficult to accept, but it can be a very useful way of identifying issues and weaknesses before they become a real problem. It is a good way of bringing your people with you as you make permanent changes to the way you work, building trust and engagement.

Sourcing feedback

There are three ways in which organisations usually approach a 360 review. Firstly, if going all in, you can bring on a consultant which will reduce the risk of personal friction within the organisation, particularly if you are aware of some issues with the culture or leadership.

The other options are staying in-house: one is a focus on feedback on key people at all levels of the organisation. The other – the most relevant in this case – is a comprehensive programme to identify issues with management, systems and organisational structures and cultures.

The leadership team should determine how the review will be carried out. Should all employees give feedback, or a cross-section of the organisation? Will it be a mandatory or voluntary exercise? Who will make decisions about the findings? To what extent will the feedback be given anonymously?

Expect tough answers

When conducting a 360 review, expect some uncomfortable revelations. It is likely you will uncover issues that you were unaware of, and can sometimes feel quite personal. Some managers or staff might push back on making changes if they impact them directly. It’s a good idea to collect anonymous data so that people feel open, but it’s also important for employee trust and morale that their honest opinions are treated seriously by the leadership and not dismissed.

Assess how ready your organisation is to handle 360 feedback. For larger organisations, it may be worth putting management through some communication and leadership training to help them prepare. A simple preliminary staff satisfaction survey can help you determine who biting your findings might be.

For further analysis and for tools that can help you review your organisation, log into ManagementDirect today. Items such as “232 Understanding organisational culture” and the PERT diagram can help you paint a fuller picture of your organisation.

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