360 Feedback. Blessing or Curse?

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This topic contains 18 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Mark Hammer 7 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #135991


    360-degree feedback, is feedback that comes from all around an employee. It also includes a self-assessment and, in some cases, feedback from external sources such as customers and suppliers or other interested stakeholders. (source wikipedia).

    I often wonder how a management person would fare if their overall evaluation score consisted of input from entities such as;

    *Their Reporting Staff

    *Fellow Teammates

    *External/Internal Customers


    *If all of these components were taken into consideration, how would this type of feedback change the promotion, bonus and retention landscape(s)?

    *How would 360 feedback affect your evaluation? Would it be a blessing or a curse?

    *Are there any federal agencies doing a variation of 360 degree feedback?

    Just my thoughts. What are yours?

  • #136027

    Mark Hammer

    It was my understanding that a good 360 normally includes feedback from those you work with, those you report to, and those who report to you. I had never assumed clients were part of the mix, but it seems like a good idea.

    I’ve been trained to consider 360s as a useful vehicle for staff development, but NOT as an assessment tool for selection or promotion. The problem is that when informants know something important is riding on it, then a) they tend to be more restrained, b) they tend to be more judgmental and less helpful, and c) the person being evaluated can easily discount the feedback as vindictive or the babblings of sycophants.

  • #136025

    Allen Brooks

    I think it’s an excellent idea. I used to work at a very large non-profit which utilized 360 degree feedback. It incentivizes employees to act and perform much more professionally because their work performance is evaluated by clients, peers, etc., not just supervisors.

  • #136023


    These are valid areas of concern (360 with regard to selection or promotion). Could this be mitigated through the use of weighted averages? This would help to counter any deliberate vindictiveness. Also the informants would not have to know the reason for the questions. As far as the informants are concerned, this would just be a subset of questions embedded within a questionnaire. There’s also the option of random assessments. It doesn’t have to be every informant. Just throwing some things out there.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  • #136021


    Thanks for sharing! I think, overall, the pluses would outweigh the minuses. It also makes the environment more customer-centric. In this case, the feedback is coming from both internal customers (teammates) as well as external customers (clients, should that apply).

  • #136019

    Terrence Hill

    I just read a great article on the SHRM website on this very topic – http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/employeerelations/articles/Pages/360DegreePerformance.aspx.
    I recommend reading it before attempting, but I absolutely believe in this concept. Now that we have automation, this concept can work and it makes sense. Leaders should be evaluated by followers. Customer service reps should ask customers for feedback. The key is that it can’t be imposed, but employees need to buy into the process and stakeholders. We need to stop relying only on supervisors for feedback. I wouldn’t get hung up on the calculations. It’s the feedback that is important.

  • #136017


    Agreed. The feedback is more important. Thanks for your input Terry!!

  • #136015

    I’m with Mark – all 360s I’ve known have included the kind of internal feedback that you describe…but I don’t think it’s standard. I’ve always heard of it being associated with special leadership development programs and not as a “way of being” in the office. They can be time consuming and might not be practical…but highly valuable.

  • #136013

    Steve Ressler

    I’ve been part of a couple but they were friends in special leadership programs.

  • #136011

    Carol Davison

    They are as good as the feedback providers. The employee who worked for me that got the most positive feedback was a lying, conflict escalating, backbiting egotist who has offended when Marcy answered the questions that she asked of Dot. Also, she performed 4 grades below the one she held. All of these are a waste of resources that should be invested in producing results for customers. As a leader I presumed that we all were there to make the training officer perform at a high level, not just ourselves.

  • #136009

    Sounds like a little process improvement would have helped. For instance, an automated process would remove the face-2-face aspect that was a part of the “Marcy” process. Often times it is not what is said but how it’s said. That can affect the outcome positively or negatively. Thanks for sharing Carol. I certainly appreciate it.

  • #136007

    Alicia Mazzara

    At my old agency we received feedback from our supervisors and wrote our own self-assessments, but there was no opportunity for supervisors to receive feedback from those that they supervised. In retrospect, I think this was a huge shortcoming, especially since managers did not receive training on how to manage people. (They would get promoted because they were good at their original job function but that doesn’t require the same skill set.) The most common complaint I would hear would be about disorganized or disconnected managers, but there was no mechanism to suggest changes for improvement. I think 360 feedback would have been really beneficial.

  • #136005

    @Alicia Mazzara

    Good Points Alicia. Thanks for sharing.

  • #136003

    David Dejewski

    I’m in the middle on this. I’ve seen it work well, and I’ve seen circumstances where it wouldn’t be a good idea.

    On he plus side, many of my former contractors from Booze Allen did 360’s every year. Those guys really worked together well as a team. I attribute the majority of that teamwork and cooperation to their supervisor (who was awesome), a great hiring process (with this particular group), and natural talent the team members brought to the table. But I did see some good communication as a result of those 360’s.

    On the negative side, I’ve been in positions where I was paid to be unpopular. My job was to make changes in the environment. The environment was very seriously stacked in favor of the status-quo. Under an old evaluation system (since defunct), performance evals had to go before a board called a “pay pool.” Many people on the pay pool were my peers – and the very people I was asked to upset. So if I wrote “success’ bullets such as “I successfully replaced the old process with a new and improved process – saving X dollars and Y hours,” some people reviewing those bullets would have been insulted.

    As with anything, the success or failure of a tool is dependent on variables. In the right hands, the right spirit, and under the right circumstances, I think it can be great. There are situations, however, where doing the right thing means kicking over apple carts. This could turn a 360 into a tool for revenge.

  • #136001

    Very good points. Thanks for sharing.

  • #135999

    Terri Cooks

    A real 360 includes everyone you have to interact with especially the direct reporting staff members. Otherwise it is not a full disclosure evaluation.

  • #135997

    Pattie Buel

    I’ve done a couple of programs where you have 360s done via an automated system and results are grouped by role so ratings/comments are anonymous (only 1 supervisor so you know who said that). Each time we were given our sealed assessment responses in a group environment followed by some time to look them over and then set up a one-on-one with one of the facilitators. I’m always surprised by the number of people shocked or offended by the results. Makes me think that part of the training that needs to be done is on being self-aware.

  • #135995

    I like the setup that you have going there Pattie. Having the process automated is a big plus.

  • #135993


    A LOT depends on how the assessment is setup and the wording involved. I found the one I did very difficult to complete because of the way it was worded and formatted 🙁

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