How long does a 360 Degree Feedback project take? (Part 2)

Monday, 10 October 2013

Continuing from our previous discussion on 360 Feedback scheduling, we complete the discussion by focussing on the final three elements of a 360 project:

4) Survey Live
5) Managing non respondents
6) Report publication and delivery

4) Survey Live (10 working days)

This is simply the time that the survey is available to be completed. There is no doubt that the longer that you leave a survey open the higher the response rate. An optimum time would appear to be between 10 and 15 working days for the official survey period. Once the period extends beyond this it is a case of diminishing return.

A typical survey will generate an initial response within the first day or so of anything between 5% and 25% of the response population. This will increase gradually with small, sharp peaks as e-mail reminders are sent out. However it is not unusual to have only a 50% or less response rate with the last couple of days or even at the official close date of a survey. The most intense peak is nearly always seen with the last reminder. This is almost regardless of the amount of time that a survey is made available. There is little benefit therefore in extending surveys much more than two or three weeks. The exceptions to this are at the peak seasonal holiday periods, where we would recommend adding an extra 5 or even 10 working days. This is not just because of holiday absence but also because people are usually covering for their absent colleagues in this period and individual workloads often increase as well.

Since time is nearly always at a premium, we would therefore usually recommend 10 working days starting mid-week to cover the issues of absence as mentioned previously, as long as there is an unofficial period for chasing non-respondents as described below.

Survey response rates vary dramatically from company to company or even project to project. A typical overall response rate would be around the 50% to 70% rate with an unmanaged process, increasing to 70% to 90% with the use of e-mail prompts to non-respondents throughout the process.

5) Managing Non-Respondents (5 to 10 working days)

Unless the project is very small (two or three Subjects) or you are willing and able to put in a lot of time chasing individuals personally, keep your expectations realistic in terms of response rates, and do not confuse quantity of response with quality of response. There are methods to measure quality of response, but that is a discussion for another time.

It is at this point that you should always allow an unofficial time period to chase the non-respondents. This is the hard graft part of the project where, working with your supplier (if using an external source) you will decide on the most appropriate strategy to obtain the best result that you can in the time you have allowed. There are several options that can be deployed here depending on circumstances, and since this is primarily about the time I will not dwell further on this, but feel free to contact us to discuss this further should it be of interest to you.

A well-structured chase process should yield final response rates in the 90% to 95% area. This is the kind of number that we usually aim for, and we usually suggest 5 working days be built into the process for this stage of the project

6) Report publication and delivery (20 minutes to a couple of days)

Some companies can deliver reports instantly within minutes. Others, like ourselves take a little longer, because we actually review each report for fit and flow. This is particularly important when there may be a lot of written content that overflows normal page barriers. We take the care to make these fit as best possible and will reformat to ensure that the report is as easy as possible to read for each individual.

Be sure you understand the time requirements for report delivery.

In summary:

  • A standard 360 project can take between three to six weeks depending on process, purpose, culture and communication
  • The length of time that the actual survey is left open has relatively little effect on overall response levels beyond the first 10 or 15 working days as long as an additional chase (or expediting) period is built into the process
  • Response levels should not be mixed up with response quality

I hope that this has given you sufficient information to understand some of the most significant time restraints within a 360 feedback project.

Best of luck with your next 360 Feedback project.

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