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360 Degree Feedback

What is 360 degree feedback?
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Imagine being a contestant on the X-Factor. You step out into the spotlight, microphone in hand and pause, waiting for the music to begin. As you start to sing the audience responds and is warm and appreciative. You finish the song, pleased with your performance. Then you turn to THE judge for comments who provides luke warm feedback. What? Only one judge? Imagine facing feedback from one person only - just one point of view.


That's the situation many people faced in the early days of performance management. It's still how it happens in many organizations today.


360-degree feedback, sometimes referred to as multi-rater appraisals or multi-source feedback is a tool designed to address this problem. By gaining feedback from peers, reports, managers and even internal and external customers a person gets a valuable insight into how others see them.


Peers, reports and customers are all exposed to a person in different ways. Feedback is no longer one dimensional. This multi-dimensional approach often provides great insights into how different groups see a person. For example leaders really need to understand how their reports see them, just as much as they need to understand how their own boss sees them.

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Strengths and improvement opportunities

The results of 360-degree feedback often give a person insight into areas they didn’t realize were strengths. It also reinforces a person’s understanding of areas they did recognize as strengths in themselves. Having the knowledge that others recognize their strengths builds confidence. Just as important as understanding their strengths, a person is also made aware of their golden opportunities for improvement. This ability to see themselves as others see them is of immeasurable value.



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Motivation for change

Just as different groups such as peers, reports, managers and customers can see a person in different ways, they are also often very consistent in how they perceive a person. This is powerful because the person receiving the feedback can be more sure of the accuracy than if the feedback comes from one person. This is a much greater motivator for change – one person’s feedback can be easily discounted, many people saying the same thing can’t be easily discounted.


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Perceptions matter.    

Behavioral skills

The other area of performance management that 360-degree feedback addresses are behavioral skills such as communication, team work and leadership. How do you go about determining how well a person communicates or how good a leader they are? This can be a difficult thing to do, particularly because one person’s assessment of another can be highly subjective.
360-degree feedback addresses this by using a range of people who are very familiar with a person. The importance here is that if a group of people perceive a person in a similar way, that perception matters.



A golden opportunity

For example, if a person’s manager perceives them as a good leader, but the person’s reports do not, there is an issue. This is a golden opportunity to find out why the reports don’t perceive the person as a good leader. It could be that people aren’t given recognition for their contributions. Improving this would ensure the team’s performance and lead to higher retention rates.
More on 360 - A Tale of Two 360 Degree Feedback processes

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