An Alternative To 360° Feedback (That Takes One Hour)

Written by Dave Bailey

Filed under feedback leadership meetings

Team stood in line ready to receive feedback

If your feedback cycles are too slow, try this.

The 360-degree feedback process can help employees and managers get a better sense of how they are perceived by others across their organisation. However, putting it into practice is time-consuming and mentally exhausting. Typically, it’s scheduled every 6–12 months — or avoided by startups completely.

The main issue isn’t with organising the process. It’s in the effort needed to write down nuanced feedback. Choosing the right words, and finding the appropriate tone is anxiety-inducing. In an ideal world, the conversations happen first and the written memo happens later.

And that’s why I love ‘speedback’ meetings (‘speed’ + ‘feedback’). They take the multi-week 360-degree process and turn it into a one-hour meeting. You get more feedback, faster and more frequently.

Part 1: Remind the team how to give feedback

Let’s say you have six people on your team.

At the beginning of the meeting, the leader takes five minutes to remind everyone how to give effective feedback (both positive and constructive) using the SBI (situation, behaviour, impact) model:

  • Talk about a specific situation. Generalisations can be hard to interpret and tend to elicit a defensive response.
  • State the behaviours you observed. It’s important to be as specific as possible, so stick to direct quotes and behaviours you’ve seen directly.
  • Explain the impact. Next, link behaviours to their impact. This might be on the team, on the product — even on our emotions and needs.
  • Suggest a concrete next step (optional). Describe a behaviour you believe would have a positive impact on the situation.

The meeting leader also reminds feedback receivers that they aren’t allowed to argue their case — they can only say, ‘Thank you, I appreciate you telling me.’

Part 2: Split into pairs and give each other feedback

Next, everyone splits off in pairs (Zoom’s break-out room is perfect for this) for six minutes of feedback, organised as follows:

  • Person A gives person B positive feedback for 1.5 minutes.
  • Person A gives person B constructive feedback/advice for 1.5 minutes.
  • Person B gives person A positive feedback for 1.5 minutes.
  • Person B gives person A constructive feedback/advice for 1.5 minutes.

Once the time’s up, they switch partners until everyone has had six minutes with everyone else.

Part 3: Each person presents back to the group

In the final part of the meeting, each person takes it in turns to play back to the entire group what they’ve heard — good and bad — and state one action they’re willing to commit to.

It’s not an easy meeting, but it’s effective — and a lot easier than a full 360. What will your colleagues say about you?

You’ll never know unless you ask.


Originally published Feb 17, 2021, last updated Jun 1, 2021

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