Multisource feedback: piloting of "360-degree" reviews for SHW staff

Published: 21 September 2022

Reporting back on the piloting of a multisource feedback tool aimed at promoting a positive workplace culture for all

As part of our Athena Swan efforts to promote a positive workplace culture for all, we developed a multisource feedback tool and conducted a small-scale pilot of this with staff in the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit. Here we summarise the feedback from participants about how this process went and possible next steps.

Photo of man in a wheelchair sitting at a desk with laptop, mug, and spectacles

Multisource feedback, sometimes known as 360-degree review, is a staff development process in which individuals rate themselves on various behaviours and characteristics and invite colleagues to rate them on the same questions. This is intended to give the individual an insight into how their colleagues perceive them compared with how they perceive themselves, and provides an opportunity for reflection and consideration of development in one’s role.

A small working group of SHW and People and Organisational Development staff was formed to develop a multisource feedback tool focused on positive leadership behaviour. The tool was created on the NHS Education for Scotland Turas platform and the content covered seven domains:

  1. collaboration and collegiality
  2. communication
  3. dignity, respect and wellbeing
  4. workload
  5. integrity and responsibility
  6. supporting the development of others
  7. overall positive leadership.

The items were based on a range of sources including the Athena Swan Culture Survey, SHW staff consultation on dignity at work, NHS multisource feedback tool for medical staff, Health and Safety Executive stress management competency tool for line managers, UofG Professional Behaviour Framework, and UofG Values. Opportunities for free-text feedback were also included. The tool was designed to be applicable to academic and professional services staff who have line management and/or other leadership responsibilities.

The MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (SPHSU) agreed to be the pilot site for a small-scale trial of the tool, which took place over summer 2022. Five staff from a range of job families and grades volunteered to take part as reviewees.

  • They rated themselves and were asked to invite at least six raters from a mix of roles to provide anonymous feedback.
  • The system then generated a feedback report, which was intended to be discussed jointly by the reviewee and a facilitator of their choice.

We asked the reviewees, raters and facilitators to give us anonymous feedback on how the process went and whether they thought it should be rolled out for other staff to try. Of the three reviewees who responded, two thought it should be rolled out, and of the 11 raters/facilitators who responded, eight thought it should be rolled out.

Reviewees noted positive aspects including the useful opportunity for discussion with the facilitator. Raters/facilitators felt positive about the rationale for the process, the anonymous format and inclusion of multiple raters, the constructive approach and emphasis on positive behaviour as well as areas for development, and opportunities for open-ended comments.

Negative feedback was given by some reviewees, raters and facilitators regarding the high number of items and the focus on management skills rather than broader behaviour. Raters would also have preferred advance sight of the questions so they could prepare. There was mixed feedback about the structure/flow of the tool and the balance of Likert ratings versus open-ended questions. Some users also encountered technical problems with the platform.

We are very grateful for the time and effort put in by those who took part, and especially the input of Susan Wilkie, who coordinated the process.

The working group will review the feedback and see what improvements can be made, and what resources would be required, before considering whether to trial this again at a larger scale. We are committed to ensuring that staff can access positive development opportunities and that colleagues have a range of channels for providing feedback on workplace culture and behaviour.

Breda Cullen 
SHW Athena Swan champion

Access our multisource feedback resources

First published: 21 September 2022