Advice from the community – Four top tips to maximise the effectiveness of your feedback sessions

by Tracy Lonetto from the NHS Leadership Academy

February 11, 2020

PSI are pleased to host the below in relation to the NHS Leadership Academy Healthcare Leadership Model 360 degree feedback tool

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend events across the country with our facilitator community and I’m always impressed with the skills and dedication that comes through. As a facilitator myself I value the tips and advice that is freely shared, whether that’s during event sessions themselves (including tea breaks!) or from conversations I have during other parts of my role.

Reflecting recently on what’s been shared with me, there do seem to be some relatively quick and easy ways we as facilitators can help the process be as effective and impactful as possible for our feedback clients.

Whether you’re just be about to facilitate your first feedback session or you’ve been doing them for years, hopefully these reflections will still be helpful to think about before embarking on your next session.

1. Relationship building

Building a relationship with our feedback clients is so important, and many facilitators have said this is their favourite part of the role – not least of which because it can help us get a peek at what pressures (and successes!) are like in different parts of the system that we may not normally see in our day-to-day roles.

Taking the time to get to know our clients as individuals, understanding why they are undertaking the 360 process and what they’re hoping to achieve can make all the difference in helping them get the most out of the process.

By speaking with clients as they begin the 360 process we can provide useful advice and support, but we can also get a sense of what context they’re working in during the same timeframe that their raters are completing feedback. This can be useful when working through the reports six weeks later, when busy colleagues may not always remember exactly what they or their teams were dealing with back then!

2. Building trust by following the process and setting clear goals

We can all get frustrated when our clients don’t follow their parts of the process. It can cause delays and occasionally stress to both our clients and to us. Rather than getting irritated by process however, one facilitator I spoke to framed their experiences in a way which really resonated with me.

They reflected that they had more success building trust with their feedback clients whenever they themselves were prompt in responding to different parts of the process in the system and being clear about their own expectations from the client. This signalled to their feedback clients that they took their experience seriously, that they valued the process and helped set deadlines that they could both stick to.

The facilitator made sure they:

  • Accepted or declined their session requests and followed this up with specific information as needed
  • Responded to availability requests for feedback sessions and offered alternatives if needed
  • Checked in with clients if reports hadn’t been requested in good time before a feedback session
  • Closed reports promptly after feedback sessions had been held

They found that their feedback clients had been more responsive and engaged which improved the overall process for both facilitator and client. This not only helped with relationship building, it also helped reduce potential stress points for both.

3. Paying attention to detail – and highlight where improvements can be made

Understanding the detail of feedback reports is important, but many facilitators have highlighted that being openly curious about some specifics is important even before getting to that stage of the process.

The area most consistently mentioned is noting the detail of the raters selected by our clients and highlighting when we may have advice or concerns. For example, how many raters have they asked? Is it too few, or possibly too many? Do they have a good spread across the different rater groups? Are they people who can help give a well-rounded view of how they’re behaving at work?

We know that encouraging clients to really think about their choices for raters often results in a more robust report and powerful feedback. Sometimes this is because clients just haven’t considered the breadth of people they could ask. In many cases however, facilitators have helped clients to challenge themselves to be brave with who they ask to rate them so they’re not just picking the ‘usual suspects’. You can find some further guidance that can be shared with feedback clients around this here.

4. Staying connected with each other

Our facilitators are a fantastic community, with a huge amount of experience and expertise. Finding ways to stay connected with each other is hugely helpful to bounce around ideas, learn from others’ experiences and generally support one another. Whether you can do this face-to-face or virtually, connecting in with a network of fellow facilitators is a great way to find even more ways to run effective sessions. If you haven’t already, why not join our LinkedIn group or connect with your Local Leadership Academy to see what opportunities are available in your region?

This isn’t an exhaustive list of course, but do these tips resonate with your own experiences? Have I missed something you’d like to share? Are there any resources you wish were available to further help you develop as a facilitator? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you! Please email or post your ideas in the LinkedIn group.