8 Key Questions to Overcome 360 degree Feedback Problems


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When it comes to 360-degree feedback, be warned that it is much easier to lose trust than to build it.

In the beginning, 360 assessments were seen to be a development tool. They were not conceived to be used as a tool for performance appraisal. As their use has grown, however, they have come to be used by some organizations for evaluation, not just for development. This has pulled the rug out from under the original intent and caused a lot of problems for many.

Covering up performance appraisal problems

There are several reasons generally given for using 360s for appraisal purposes. The strongest reason is to augment traditional top-down performance appraisals with a different perspective. This, though, strikes me as more of an admission of the weaknesses of traditional performance appraisals than as an argument in favor of using 360s for the same purpose. We shouldn’t try to fix something that’s broken by importing a tool that was developed for an entirely different purpose.

Mis-trust breeds more

Once you begin using 360s for appraisal purposes, you sow seeds of mis-trust and fear that are really hard to weed out once they take root. Tying compensation and/or promotion opportunities to the process is like adding fertilizer—the weeds grow that much faster. You trigger two unhelpful phenomena when you do this. First, you trigger a loss of trust. When trust goes, fear takes its place. When leaders become fearful of the consequences of 360s, they cease being open to the feedback they provide. They grow defensive. They lose sight of the development goals that purportedly, are still at the heart of the process. They begin finger-pointing and even become obsessed with discovering which rater rated them lowest and why. This defeats the purpose of the process. Games of deception set in. This leads to the next weed in the garden of 360s: gaming the system.

8 key questions for success

During an investigation as to the way that 360s are used today, 8 questions where revealed that expose specific problems. These problems expose why 360s no longer work as well as they once did, nor as well as they could. Problems arise from a combination of historical accident, careless imitation, misconceptualization of definitions of leadership, and confusion as to the highest purpose of assessments.

If you find that your 360 feedback practices are not working as well as they used to or promised, or if you have considered implementing a 360 process but have been reluctant to try it for various reasons, then the answers to these 8 questions are vital:

1. For what levels of leadership is your 360 feedback intended?
2. Do you intend to use it for developmental or for appraisal purposes?
3. What steps can you take to ensure that your 360 practices don’t lead to obscuring the truth?
4. What steps can you take to ensure that your 360 practices build trust rather than destroy it?
5. Who or what is the subject of the feedback?
6. How will you define leadership?
7. Who will be responsible for doing things differently?
8. Can you develop a process that does not need complex and expensive interpretation?

Those that build their 360 process with the answers to these questions will be more successful. To get more insights into the pitfalls and answers to more successful 360 degree feedback practices get your copy of the free eBook: Why 360-degree feedback no longer works: And what you can do about it now.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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