10 things you didn’t know about 360˚ feedback

1. Did you know about 360 feedback that it is the ultimate tool today?

Nowadays it’s no longer just the manager who’s creating the content for employee evaluation. 360˚ feedback draws from a wealth of sources, including self-ratings, peer reviews, client feedback, upward assessments and the opinions of immediate supervisors and because of that it is believed to be the best way to get a clear picture of someone’s performance. Hence 360˚ is the most commonly used feedback tool by organizations today.

2. You should know about 360 feedback planning upfront

Some of the studies regarding the 360˚ feedback suggest that poorly designed 360˚ feedback assessments and interventions can increase disengagement and contribute to poor performance.  It is mentioned in several of them that although there was a significant effect across all studies for feedback interventions, performance actually declined in one third of all studies. The most common reasons for that were the depth of the feedback process and the way of feedback delivery. In most cases where these were not planned and conducted thoughtfully and thoroughly the result was a declination in performance level.

3. You need to consider overestimations

Approximately 65% to 75% of the employees in any given organization report that the worst aspect of their job is their immediate boss. In fact, estimates of the base rate for managerial incompetence in organizations range from 30% to 75%, with the average level of poor leadership estimated at about 50% (Hogan & Kaiser, 2005). Many of these incompetent leaders tend to have inflated views of their skills and abilities, and this appears fairly common in 360˚feedback research (Atwater & Brett, 2005). In a study by Vecchio and Anderson (2009) the tendency to overestimate one’s own leader effectiveness relative to evaluations provided by others was found to be greater for males and older managers.

4. Follow up is essential!

A common thing, happening in a lot of organizations is the limited number or total lack of follow ups or sometimes even documentation regarding the post 360˚ process. Over time this proved to make the whole 360˚ process worthless. In these organizations only few, smaller changes have been made after the 360˚ feedback. However, in companies with clear policies of follow ups and where implementation of the planned activities are taken seriously and monitored – gains after 360˚ feedback are much higher.

5. Did you know about 360 feedback that it makes things predictable?

A lot can be derived from 360˚ feedback results for making generalizations and predictions on a higher level. One major study on 360˚ feedback that was taken on 1288 management students of reputed post graduate system In India. Here the 360 data of the students was compared with admission scores, course and placement performance and significant correlations were found between 360˚ results and course and placement performance. This indicates that thorough analysis of these data can give organizations understanding of strengths and weaknesses on a bigger scale – not just individually, but also on group level.

6. It’s all over the place

While there’s no list or totally accurate data, given the evidence gained through the many articles on 360 published over the years it would seem likely that by now nearly all Fortune 1000 companies have either already implemented a 360 process or soon plan to. Some data show that around 90% of Fortune 500 companies are using 360 processes regularly. The increasing affordability of 360 has allowed many small to mid-size companies to consider and start using the 360˚feedback. In fact, 360 has become so well established that often individuals in companies who are not using it will seek outside possibilities to run 360 on themselves.

7. Did you know about 360 feedback where it all started?

The U.S. government set the stage for the common practice of annually reviewing employees when it passed the Performance Rating act in 1950, which mandated that all federal workers be given one of three ratings, outstanding, satisfactory and unsatisfactory, and instituted a top-down approach to management.

8. You don’t have to manage to do it

Recent literature and research now highlights that leadership is no longer solely about managing others; a 360 feedback process can be equally useful for someone who does not have subordinates but might have internal or external clients or stakeholders who can offer insights. The opinions of these people are equally important in guiding the individual towards improving or enhancing certain behaviors.

9. What about those strengths?

The most common attitude (and generally a mistake) when conducting the 360˚ process is “we’ve got to locate your weaknesses and obliterate them.”  Starting with this attitude often results in disregarding the strengths that get uncovered in the 360 process. The fact that gets forgotten here is that strengths which got the person to where he/she is in his/her career.

10. Know about 360 feedback from the statistics

Companies most often use 1-3 questionnaires or different 360˚ processes.  Between 17 and 30% of all employees in one company are included in the 360˚ process. The majority of organizations are using 360 on an ad-hoc basis. In last five years the usage of 360 has increased by 57%.

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