360 degree feedback, otherwise known as multi source feedback, is a comprehensive and structured way to obtain feedback from a range of others. Feedback is sought from different sources, like self, manager, peers, staff, customers or any other relevant group. The purpose of the process is to understand how others perceive you. Typically, feedback is anonymous and confidential apart from the manager's perceptions. 360 degree feedback provides a mirror into other people's perceptions and endeavours to answer the question:
You see yourself a certain way. The question is .... How do others see you? ... and ... How do you impact upon their performance?
The insights gained from 360 degree feedback can help to confirm that a person is on track or can provide insight that can be a catalyst for change.
The Value of 360 Degree Feedback
A range of key conclusions can be drawn about the value of 360 degree feedback.
- Every day, people make assessments of others. Yet how often do they turn their thoughts into constructive feedback. 360 degree feedback facilitates the process.
- Feedback helps people get on track (when effectively given)
- The sooner feedback is given, the sooner people can act.
- Prompt feedback allows people to change course if they need to, or forge ahead with greater confidence when told that they are on the right track
- Feedback can be very motivating and energising
- Feedback can sometimes be confronting
- Working without feedback is like setting out on an important journey minus a map or signposts. You may have a great sense of direction but this may not be sufficient to keep you on track
The 360 Degree Feedback Process
The Full Circle Feedback process involves:
- Defining the policies for the project (e.g. how the information will be used, confidentiality policies, rater selection, etc.)
- Designing or selecting a survey
- Selecting a group of people to provide feedback
- Asking the people to complete the survey
- Producing a feedback report
- Interpreting the feedback to gain insights
The Complexity of Giving Feedback
Giving and receiving feedback involves a complex set of skills. For many reasons, providing face to face feedback can be difficult.
- Lack of skills in providing feedback
- Concern about the person's reaction to the feedback
- lack of time to provide the feedback
- Lack of confidence in providing feedback
- Fear of reprisal
- Inappropriate time to provide feedback
- Not a priority
360 Degree Feedback is Widely Used
The use of 360 degree feedback is growing rapidly for a number of reasons:
- Increasing complexity of working relations (predominantly due to technology)
- Continued drive for enhanced people performance
- Desire to ensure that investment in people is properly targeted
- Realisation that feedback is central to all change
- Organisational cultures are now ready
- 60-75% of employees believe their manager does not know what they do (and hence feedback from other sources is critical to development