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We’ve opened the curtains on how we do performance reviews (i.e. we don’t – they’re called career conversations). It’s only fitting that we also share how we do upwards feedback. After all, a team’s growth can be limited by an under-performing leader. So we built a process to gather feedback from the team to review with managers.

A successful 360° feedback approach should be…

  • Repeatable. We’re going to do this every six months.
  • Measurable. We need to compare results over time.
  • Scalable. We need this to grow with the size of our team.
  • Simple. It can’t take up too much of our time.
  • Aligned. It needs to relate to our leadership values.

With those goals in mind, we developed our 360° feedback process. Give these steps a shot if you’re looking to put your leaders to the test.

Define what you value in leaders

Everyone has their own unique leadership style. But what makes an exceptional leader? Think about what leadership traits and skills are most valued in your company. The fewer you include, the better. Keep it simple. We landed at just 4 principles that are based on a lot of reading we’ve done.

A great leader will…

  • Provide direction and guidance to the team
  • Create a psychologically safe workplace
  • Possess high emotional intelligence (EQ)
  • Put the team’s success above their own

Break values down to skills and traits

Now you need to answer the question: how does a leader do these things? If you’ve based your values on research, you can read further into the studies and articles to answer this question. In our example, we used Harvard Business Review’s What Makes a Leader? video as a way to break down emotional intelligence (EQ).

Possessing high emotional intelligence (EQ) means…

  • Being self-aware
  • Regulating your own emotions
  • Having internal motivation to grow
  • Being empathetic towards others’ emotions
  • Using social skills to persuade and collaborate

Create statements for each trait

To measure a leader’s performance against traits, start writing statements that address them. Keep them short and extremely simple. Avoid complex grammar and structure so you don’t confuse respondents. Again, simpler is better!

For measuring self-regulation, we developed these statements:

  • This manager does things on impulse.
  • This manager thinks through things before acting.
  • This manager deals with ambiguous situations calmly.
  • When faced with a difficult conversation, this manager remains level-headed.

Measure, provide feedback, and repeat

At this point in the process, you’ll have a lot of statements. This is good! Multiple statements that measure the same thing provide more validity to the responses. Take the statements and put them in a survey (i.e. Google Forms or SurveyMonkey). Respondents can answer on a scale between strongly agree and strongly disagree. Add some open-ended questions at the end if it suits your team’s style. Keep the responses anonymous if that works best for your culture. Make sure everyone who works with the person fills it out.

Now you’ll have a number to represent how a leader is performing in key areas. Share the findings. Highlight key strengths and weaknesses. Discuss what can be done to improve until the next time you do the survey. Accountability is built in since you’ll have a way to measure progress!