360 Degree Feedback – What Is It and How to Get Around to It

The famous author Robert Kiyosaki once said that “critics only make you stronger”. Based on this idea, the 360 degree feedback is a great tool to use in your company for improving your workflow and your employees’ performance. Today we are going to find out what is 360 degree feedback, how to implement it and what are its advantages and disadvantages.

What Is 360 Degree Feedback?

This type of feedback refers to a method or tool that offers each employee the chance to get performance feedback both from their supervisor and from 4 – 8 peers, coworkers, customers, or reporting staff members. Usually, most of the feedback tools, in this case, receive a response in the form of a self-assessment.

It is used to provide some insight into the behaviors and skills that are needed in the organization to accomplish the goals, vision, and mission. Moreover, the 360 degree feedback helps each individual understand its strengths and weaknesses. They also have the chance of bringing insights into various aspects of their work. There are three main points this type of feedback aims to achieve:

  1. Identifying personal blind spots in what concerns the behavior, as well as the impact each person has;
  2. Measuring the progress while the employee works on their skills;
  3. Identifying a point for the employees to start developing new skills.
360 degree feedback process

Illustration of the 360 degree feedback process. Image courtesy of SlideShare

Common Mistakes When Implementing It

Though it may sound simple, there are a couple of common mistakes people make when executing the 360 degree feedback. For example, some companies decide to implement it without setting clear competencies and skills they want to review. Moreover, it’s important to pay attention to the number of employees you have, so that you can keep a certain level of anonymity.

Another point to be kept in mind is that the employees who offer the feedback need to have the necessary information. For example, you can’t ask for feedback from an employee that rarely, if ever, works together with the subject. The next step is not to focus so much on the individual feedback, but rather on the big picture of it.

360 Degree Feedback Pros and Cons

Even though it sounds so great, there are also cons to this method. Let’s have a look at the reasons why many companies decide it’s good to use this type of feedback:

1. Better Feedback

Just as the name says, the best thing about the 360 degree feedback is the fact that employees get better feedback from more sources. The well-rounded responses help create a general picture of the individual.

2. More Time for Managers

Another good thing about implementing this type of feedback is the fact that managers don’t waste so much time and energy in this process. Moreover, the coworker perception is important as well, and people can understand how the rest of their employees view them.

3. Team Development

Adopting this method helps teams know each other better and overcome their flaws. Thus, members become more accountable to each other since they can share their input about each other’s performance.

4. Personal and Professional Development

It’s a great idea if you need to identify and understand personal and organizational needs. Moreover, it provides employees with an objective space to discuss their own approaches to the topic.

5. Career Development

Nowadays companies don’t get involved as much in the career development for each of their employees. The 360 degree feedback helps the individual understand more about what they need to do extra to advance in their career.

6. Reducing Discrimination Risk

When the feedback is provided from various individuals who occupy different positions in the company, there is a reduced risk of discrimination based on age, race, or gender.

7. Improving Customer Service

If an employee receives valuable feedback from internal or external customers, this helps to improve the overall customer service provided by the company. You can measure the improvements in the reliability, quality, comprehensiveness, and promptness of the products and services offered by the employee.

8. Assessing Training Needs

The answers given by various people in the company about a single individual can show you whether there’s a need for extra training or not. Furthermore, you can plan classes, cross-training sessions, etc.

360 degree feedback form sample

Sample of a 360 degree feedback form. Image courtesy of Joshua Spodek.

360 Degree Feedback Cons

1. Great Expectations

You must keep in mind that this feedback system is not the same as a typical performance management system. It’s just part of the overall performance management system, so don’t confuse the two. Furthermore, people may expect this feedback to tell them a lot, when in fact everything can be subjective.

2. Bad Implementation

Not everybody manages to fully understand the process behind a 360-degree feedback. And this can often lead to a bad implementation that doesn’t follow effective change management guidelines. That means you need to instruct people who will often get involved in the process and ensure the right conditions for developing it.

3. Unconnected Process

For this type of feedback to work, all the smaller parts need to be interconnected and related to the strategic aims your organization has. Offer people feedback that relies on the expected job duties and competencies. The entire system will work only if you use it to support the general direction, and not see it just as an add-on.

4. Not Enough Information

Since the feedback they give is anonymous, many people might be brief with their explanations. And when the subject reads it, they have no one to go back to if they need extra clarifications.

5. Ineffectiveness and Inexperience

Keep in mind that the people who give feedback are not trained specialists. They might offer subjective opinions on purpose, just to make a colleague look good or bad. There is even the possibility for them to band together and artificially inflate the ratings. That’s why it’s a good idea to create some checks and balances, or at least not to rely too much on this type of feedback.

To sum up, 360 degree feedback is a great idea if you know how to implement it. It’s important to keep in mind that not everybody is familiar with giving feedback objectively, for instance. Moreover, if you’re not sure about it, don’t rely serious decisions on the results of this system.

Image source: depositphotos.com



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