What Is 360 Degree Feedback

In today's changing and volatile world organisations are continually looking for ways to improve performance, and satisfy the demands of all stakeholders. Achieving this almost inevitably involves change, which then becomes the pivotal dynamic for success.

For an organisation to evolve the people working within it will have to adapt; and for this to be successful, they first of all need to know what it is about the way they are currently performing that needs to change. This is where 360 degree feedback is playing a growing role in organisations through its ability to provide structured, indepth information about current performance and what will be required of an individual in the future to enable detailed and relevant development plans to be formulated.

Professionally managed, 360 degree feedback increases individual self-awareness, and as part of a strategic organizational process can promote:

• Increased understanding of the behaviors required to improve both individual and organizational effectiveness

• More focused development activities, built around the skills and competencies required for successful organizational performance

• Increased involvement of people at all levels of the organisation

• Increased individual ownership for self-development and learning

• Increased familiarity with the implications of cultural or strategic change

360 Degree Feedback

It is a process whereby an individual is rated on their performance by people who know something about their work. This can include direct reports, peers, managers, customers or clients; in fact anybody who is credible to the individual and is familiar with their work can be included in the feedback process. The individual usually completes a self-assessment exercise on their performance, which is also used in the process.

Typically, performance appraisal has been limited to a feedback process between employees and supervisors. However, with the increased focus on teamwork, employee development, and customer service, the emphasis has shifted to employee feedback from the full circle of sources. This multiple-input approach to performance feedback is sometimes called "360-degree assessment" to connote that full circle.

Unlike, the traditional top-down appraisal where a supervisor appraises the performance of their subordinate, 360 Degree feedback incorporates multiple perspectives by using feedback from a variety of sources. These sources include peers, subordinates, customers, self, and supervisor. May be called multi-source feedback, mult-rater feedback, multi-level feedback, upward appraisal, peer review. The results of this type of feedback process provide an understanding how the employee is perceived from different perspectives. This process helps an individual understand how others perceive them. Feedback is essential to facilitating performance improvements. Feedback allows people to utilize their strengths to their advantage. Feedback informs employees which actions create problems for others and to know what changes may be needed.

Using 360-degree feedback can bring the following individual and organizational benefits.

• It provides the individual with an opportunity to learn how different colleagues perceive them, leading to increased self-awareness.

• It encourages self-development.

• It increases understanding of the behaviors required to improve personal and organizational effectiveness.

• It promotes a more open culture where giving and receiving feedback is an accepted norm.

• It increases communication within the organisation.

• It can be a powerful trigger for change.

Advantages

360 degree feedback has many positive aspects and many proponents. These features will manifest themselves in well-managed, well-integrated 360 degree feedback processes.

• Improved Feedback from More Sources: Provides well-rounded feedback from peers, reporting staff, coworkers, and supervisors. This can be a definite improvement over feedback from a single individual. 360 feedbacks can also save managers' time in that they can spend less energy providing feedback as more people participate in the process. Coworker perception is important and the process helps people understand how other employees view their work.

• Team Development: Helps team members learn to work more effectively together. (Teams know more about how team members are performing than their supervisor.) Multirater feedback makes team members more accountable to each other as they share the knowledge that they will provide input on each member's performance. A well-planned process can improve communication and team development.

• Personal and Organizational Performance Development: 360 degree feedback is one of the best methods for understanding personal and organizational developmental needs.

• Reduced Discrimination Risk: When feedback comes from a number of individuals in various job functions, discrimination because of race, age, gender, and so on, is reduced. The "horns and halo" effect, in which a supervisor rates performance based on her most recent interactions with the employee, is also minimized.

• Improved Customer Service: Especially in feedback processes that involve the internal or external customer, each person receives valuable feedback about the quality of his product or services. This feedback should enable the individual to improve the quality, reliability, promptness, and comprehensiveness of these products and services.

• Training Needs Assessment: 360 degree feedback provides comprehensive information about organization training needs and thus allows planning for classes, cross-functional responsibilities, and cross-training.

Drawback

Following are potential problems with 360 degree feedback processes and a recommended solution for each.

• Exceptional Expectations for the Process: 360 degree feedback is not the same as a performance management system. It is merely a part of the feedback and development that a performance management system offers within an organization. Additionally, proponents may lead participants to expect too much from this feedback system in their efforts to obtain organizational support for implementation. Make sure the 360 feedback is integrated into a complete performance management system.

• Design Process Downfalls: Often, a 360 degree feedback process arrives as a recommendation from the HR department or is shepherded in by an executive who learned about the process at a seminar or in a book. Just as an organization implements any planned change, the implementation of 360 degree feedback should follow effective change management guidelines. A cross-section of the people who will have to live with and utilize the process should explore and develop the process for your organization.

• Failure to Connect the Process: For a 360 feedback process to work, it must be connected with the overall strategic aims of your organization. If you have identified competencies or have comprehensive job descriptions, give people feedback on their performance of the expected competencies and job duties. The system will fail if it is an add-on rather than a supporter of your organization's fundamental direction and requirements. It must function as a measure of your accomplishment of your organization's big and long term picture.

• Insufficient Information: Since 360 degree feedback processes are currently usually anonymous, people receiving feedback have no recourse if they want to further understand the feedback. They have no one to ask for clarification of unclear comments or more information about particular ratings and their basis.

• Rater Inexperience and Ineffectiveness: In addition to the insufficient training organizations provide both people receiving feedback and people providing feedback, there are numerous ways raters go wrong. They may inflate ratings to make an employee look good. They may deflate ratings to make an individual look bad. They may informally band together to make the system artificially inflate everyone's performance. Checks and balances must prevent these pitfalls.

A 360 degree feedback survey is the process in which an individual's performance is evaluated on a predetermined set of criteria by their manager, peers, direct reports, and sometimes external customers or clients. Organizations often use 360 degree feedback processes as a driving force to implement changes, improve their management and development processes, or to stay ahead of their competitors.

360 Degree Feedback surveys can be developed in many ways. Commonly, prior to the performance survey, each employee to be evaluated completes an organizational survey in which they select who will be rating their performance. Following review of these selections, the 360 Degree Feedback survey is deployed to select individuals and results are obtained and reported back to management and the individual being evaluated.

Confirmit online survey & reporting activities are fully customizable and scaleable regardless if there are thousands or millions of employees, so companies can be assured the Confirmit 360 Degree Feedback will fit their specific needs to provide valuable evaluation data. The solution's integrated reporting software, Confirmit Reportal, can also be implemented to provide the employee being evaluated, as well as designated management or team members across the organization, a common platform for report viewing and analysis. In addition, enterprises using 360 Degree Feedback Solutions powered by Confirmit can rest assure that all vital employee data is being handled by one of the most secure systems in the industry.

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Comments 4 comments

Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area

360 degree feedback is a laughable waste of time and imitation of prudent management - talking from my own experience being both a subject and provider :)


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

My last job was the first one that I ever had a 360. I have to admit that I liked the fact that the manager could get a better view of their employees then what they saw which could be a very incorrect picture. I also enjoyed the fact that I could comment on my boss which I always felt would be great since their boss don't work for them and truely see how they manage. Another downfall is that some bosses are so selecltive in which peers they send it to that I've seen a few only select the ones that they know will give good or bad reviews. It is not a perfect system but I think it is better than what I've had in the past.


nancydodds1 profile image

nancydodds1 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Sara Algoe, Its a good stuff about 360 degree feedback. But performance will be depending on company. Thanks for sharing this hub.


jonathannatural2 profile image

jonathannatural2 5 years ago

I think 360 feedback is a strong new tool for effective management. At our company we use software from Qualtrics. They seem to have pretty robust tools that give accurate results.

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