Narrative vs. Survey-based 360° Feedback – Five Key Considerations
These days, I seem to be getting more frequent inquiries regarding the benefits of narrative 360° feedback verses survey-based 360° feedback. As a more time consuming, labour-intensive and costly exercise, why would you want to select a narrative-based approach over a less costly, more time efficient survey-based tool?
Here are five key considerations that will help in your decision-making process:
- Strengthened Context — to add additional clarity, depth and focus to the feedback. While survey-based 360° feedback is very useful, there are times when more in-depth context is required to give leaders a better sense of the information that they’re receiving. Specific examples, while maintaining anonymity of the respondents, can provide significant additional meaning for the participating leader – particularly if there is a desire to focus on specific aspects of a leader’s role, relationships or performance.
- Improved Customization — to provide the feedback participant with additional insights regarding specific aspects of their performance and for key projects or initiatives on which they’re focused. By its nature, a web-based survey tends to be more generic and targeted at a group of leaders. Even if done individually, online surveys generally utilize a standard set of questions based on desired capabilities. Narrative 360° feedback incorporates questions that gather detailed information regarding work that the participant has underway or has completed.
- Enhanced Engagement — to alleviate the sense that we’ve ‘been there’ and ‘done that’ for those leaders who have participated in one, two or more 360° feedback surveys. By creating a targeted set of questions, participants will get fresh information not captured in the survey-based format. In addition, respondents will be hearing and replying to a unique set of questions that are more targeted to their colleague and require additional thoughtfulness.
- Improved Accuracy -– to ensure that the feedback captures the real ‘essence’ of respondent thoughts and feelings. Since narrative 360° feedback, by its nature, involves individual in-person dialogue with respondents, there is the ever present opportunity to provide additional clarity regarding a specific question or to probe further if the respondent is somewhat unclear or vague in their reply. As a consequence, the results often have more relevance and can be linked together with greater cohesion than with a survey-based 360 approach.
- Expanded Participation — for senior-level leaders who have decided to ‘skip’ the 360° feedback process. Quite often, C-suite and board leadership may actively support the 360 process but ‘take a pass’ on direct participation in a survey-based approach. Customized narrative 360° feedback, however, often provides the incentive and motivation to encourage direct involvement – either as participants or respondents.
While 360° feedback, regardless of format, offers real value if conducted properly – providing some additional thought into the question of narrative vs. survey-based 360 feedback is definitely worth the effort.