The benefits of 360 feedback for professional services 

360 feedback is a really powerful tool that provides that personalised and objective insights into how we are perceived by other people. Many businesses use 360 feedback successfully as one of their leadership development tools, however, it has become increasingly clear that professional services firms in particular could benefit by using this even more. We have been providing Actus 360 software to a range of organisations, for many years now, yet it was only recently that we realised how vital a tool 360 feedback for professional services can be. We work with accountants, law firms, and other consulting businesses and they all seem to share similar challenges that a well managed 360 feedback process can address.

I’ve outlined the top five below.

  • Partnership and matrix structures can reduce visibility of performance
  • Pressure to maximise billable hours at the expense of developing others
  • Power play and internal politics
  • Self-awareness and feedback reducing with seniority and length of service
  • Ability to create transparent routes for talent to develop
360 feedback for professional services
360 feedback is effective as the eyes, ears and mouthpiece of the firm, providing honest insights into behaviours.

Professional services firms are more likely operate a partnership model with matrix reporting when compared to more traditional organisations. While this can be collaborative and highly effective, without the typical line manager hierarchy, it can be more difficult to have full visibility of performance in the widest sense. The focus on performance and pressure to perform in terms of tangible metrics, can sometimes be at the expense of interpersonal relationships and people skills. Very often, those who are the most senior in these firms, feel under pressure to deliver their billable hours and that can be at the expense of developing others.

That’s why using 360 feedback for professional services firms can be such an asset, it provides an objective and integrated process for self-awareness, feedback and development. The enlightened firms that we work with incorporate it annually, almost like a 360 appraisal – but very much focused on how they do the job rather than just what they do. Having the humility, to prioritise this activity encouraging the most senior in the organisation to hold the mirror up to themselves and ask for genuine feedback can make all the difference between maintaining a culture of harmony and collaboration as opposed to internal politics and powerplay.

Even for those senior professionals who really want to remain in touch with the views of others, length of service and seniority can inhibit even the most confident from saying what they really think. That’s why using a tool like 360 feedback for professional services firms can make this safe as people can be honest, yet anonymous. They are usually pretty good communicators and are likely to provide constructive comments that, if listened to and acted upon will make the firm a better place to work and create greater opportunities and transparent routes for talent to develop.

360 feedback is a powerful tool for many individuals, however professional services firms that use it consistently and effectively can benefit even more than the average.

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