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5 Critical Steps to Prepare for Interpreting 360 Assessments: A Coaches Guide

Well planned and delivered 180 or 360-degree assessment interpretation and feedback sessions are an incredibly rich and impactful way to both generate insights and understanding, and to begin development planning with learners. To optimize feedback and coaching time, and to provide the greatest value to a learner, some energy and effort is required on the part of the coach before the session(s) begin. Here are 5 steps to help frame your preparation to set you up for success as a coach.

1. Determine the “posture” you will take as the facilitator in advance of your session(s) helps ensure you stay consistent in your approach.

Consider how great coaches are disciplined in their ability to stay present and focused to listen actively and attentively to their learners. They also ask open-ended questions and use prompts and probes to help each learner dig deeper, and open up new reactions and insights. Both behaviors take practice, and environmental prompts such as sticky notes on your printed resources or near your computer, with pre-planned open-ended questions or listening skill reminders can help!

2. Review the learner’s report before the session.

While this seems obvious, we know that coaches, like all professionals, get busy and at times delay reviewing the entire report in advance. Perhaps they also have high confidence in their abilities “in the moment.” This potential blind spot or missed opportunity can derail a coaching session. Preparation time will ensure you can identify patterns and trends in the feedback, which informs your prepared questions and prompts to help the learner reflect on their strengths and areas for development. Here are 4 supporting steps to take when reviewing the report!

a. Look carefully at the trends and patterns within a rater group and across rater groups. 

Were the highs and lows similar or different in each rater group?  Do the comparisons across groups suggest something about the relationship of the learner to the rater group?  What were the ranges of scores used in each rater group?  Did some use the same rating most of the time or did they vary in rating highest and lowest for the learner?  These patterns are “breadcrumbs” that lead you to discovery.

b. Analyze the data using a top, middle and bottom third approach.

Does the selected report automatically identify top, middle, and bottom third in scores?  If so, this task is very straightforward. However, if you see all the ratings close together, you can begin viewing the data in thirds to identify new insights. Where do you see peaks, valleys, and significant trends?

c. Identify the hidden strengths and blind spots.

All learners have hidden strengths and blind spots and both have developmental value. By comparing the “self” to the rating groups and the overall averages these can be identified (your preferred tool may generate this specific data). If “self” is low and others high, it MAY be a hidden strength. (Hidden to the learner).  If the “self” is high and others low, it MAY be a blind spot to the learner. When using TalentTelligent 180 or 360 surveys, we report these findings for you!

d. Turn data patterns into potential narratives that inform the creation of open-ended questions.

During your preparation, and using the above tips, creating your potential narrative and open-ended questions in advance will become much easier over time. Consider how the data reflects current effectiveness and where gaps might exist for future role challenges. Doing so will set the stage for creating open-ended questions that get right to the heart of the matter: developmental priorities.  By taking this proactive step you will better use the time with your learner and will depend less on having to think on the fly.

3. Prepare a feedback strategy.

A feedback strategy considers the peaks and valleys across and within rater groups, an important part of the interpretation process. This can involve identifying key themes and issues that emerged from the feedback before considering how best to present the information in a way that is constructive, fair, and clear to the learner.

4. Gather needed materials.

As a coach you will need the obvious items such as the 360-report printed (or in a digital format for virtual sharing), highlighters, pens and, when using TalentTelligent assessments, it is helpful have diagnostic placemats AB, CD and EF nearby. Consider also having supporting development material available–our DIY Development Guides. This can help you to facilitate the session smoothly and effectively and provide quick references to add meaningful value and discussion.

5. Create an interruption-free setting.

This can be a challenging goal given our typical virtual coaching environments today. However, minimizing interruptions is crucial for creating a safe and supportiveenvironment for the session. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Test your camera equipment and lighting in advance AND ensure that you have downloaded any needed system updates prior to the session.
  • Ensure confidence when displaying or sharing documents via your chosen video platform. Practice in advance to allow for an uninterrupted discussion.
  • Consider purchasing an “elmo” desktop camera that allows your learner to see your physical desktop and any printed copies that you want to show in real time.
  • Set an early expectation with your learner, in advance, that you’d like for them to turn their phone over or store it out of sight during the session, while also ensuring they check that their audio and video are working. Silencing desktop messaging applications helps as well. The goal is to minimize distractions.

Overall, it is important to remember that your role is to facilitate the interpretation process and support the learner in reflecting on their strengths and areas for development. By meticulously preparing in advance and ensuring you have laid out a thorough and repeatable preparation process, your coaching effectiveness will reach its potential.  

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