360 Feedback – Love it or Loathe It?

TimeForFeedback 360 Feedback – Love it or Loathe It? Talk about feedback in any athletic environment and you will get almost unanimous support for feedback as a necessary ingredient for improved performance. Talk about 360 Feedback in a business environment and you will get a surprizing number of negative voices. There seems to be chasm between those who support the tool, and those who despise it.

Some of the common criticisms include:

  • It focuses on the negative rather than the positive
  • Allows persons to take “cheap shots” with anonymity
  • Raters are not qualified to judge performance
  • Managers can use it for evaluative purposes, while disguising it as “feedback”
  • Little or no support for implementation of results
  • Overly focussed on rating rather than development

Coach And A Student2 360 Feedback – Love it or Loathe It?
But let’s for a moment, focus on the tool, rather than on the errors in its use. First of all it is a feedback tool – not an evaluative tool. It is designed to provide feedback for improved performance, not for evaluation of performance and/or salary determination. That is why it is called “360 Feedback”. Its purpose is to provide information for enhanced performance and improved effectiveness for the individual. It may be axiomatic, but if other people are not prepared to help us in our search for growth areas, then there will be no opportunity to grow.

None of us are perfect! But most of us want to strive for perfection. Feedback can help in this process by identifying opportunities for improvement. That is its purpose!

Unfortunately it is too easy to see this tool used in the performance review process. But if it is to be used in this context – why not lose the 360? There is nothing in the process that says the whole 360 needs to be used in every case. To use it in the performance review process, why not have just the Manager and the subject complete the survey. This will then allow these two individuals to focus their discussion on agreed upon areas and, hopefully, allow a development plan to be formulated.

The normal 360 instrument allows for a wide variety of raters, but the raters should be chosen from among the people from whom valuable and constructive feedback can be obtained. In one case with which I am familiar, a recently appointed CEO, in his first “360”, obtained input that he appeared to be favoring a certain group of employees whose background experiences were similar to his own. This input allowed the CEO to act on this information and correct the perception of favoritism.

The 360 tool is a very flexible tool. But its flexibility should not be used as an excuse to allow its use in a manner that is not in conformity with its original purpose – that of improving an individual’s development and performance.

TheBest 360 Feedback – Love it or Loathe It? The final stage in the process should be discussion of the report and the development of an action plan. The report should be discussed with the employee by his/her manager, and/or an internal or external coach, who will explore the recommendations with the subject and develop an action plan to be implemented by the subject and monitored by the manager or coach. In this way the greatest value will accrue to the subject, and to the company.

In this way – everyone wins!

For further information on 360’s visit www.360FeedbackAndMore.com

 

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