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October 28, 2013

360-Degree Feedback: Why It Is Probably Wrong

Photo Credit: jgarber via flickr

You’ve probably heard of 360-degree feedback. Some people say it’s highly effective, while others claim all should steer clear of it. There’s no doubt that performance feedback is a great thing, but what happens when it all goes wrong? How exactly can feedback from numerous raters be a terrible thing? Believe it or not, 360-degree feedback surveys are sometimes considered unnecessary and inadequate. Here’s why:

Targeting the wrong market sector

360-feedback can be considered inane. It is useless, for instance, to send a questionnaire asking people who don’t know you to comment on your performance. It would be more natural and logical to ask your clients about customer behavior, employees about subordinates behavior, and friends about buddies’ behavior. You will decrease efforts, get better data and find out everything you want straight from the source, and not from complete strangers who will probably give bad feedback.

An overwhelming amount of data

Furthermore, 360-feedback implies asking for too much information in an extremely short amount of time. If you ask anyone who ever received such a report, they will probably state the amount of information was so overwhelming, they barely understood anything. Keep things simple and straightforward.

It’s beside the point

You cannot ask people to rate things that have nothing to do with their job performance or points of interest. If working at home, for instance, is not applicable to employees’ job performance then do not include it in the survey. Leave all the unnecessary questions out or you will confuse your staff. Base the survey items solely on job specifics.

Rewards and punishment

After you perform a survey, you must neither reward nor punish your employees. If people notice that feedback is used to recompense or discipline them, the system becomes useless. You should praise and penalize your personnel based exclusively on job performance. Regard feedback as a way to be progressive and rate everyone separately.

Organizational bias

The idea that “nobody is excellent” — which basically means “you are all useless” — is thoughtless management. In all administrations, people from the top to the bottom have a different intellectual capacity. Effective feedback should be your main objective from all levels of the company.

Lack of involvement

This is a relatively radical idea, but management is not just a title. It’s a responsibility that includes coaching, guiding and developing subordinates. A 360-feedback survey must be a joint activity between subject and coach. Your feedback program will be short-lived if the people who take advantage of it are not involved.

Now that you have been introduced to all the flaws of feedback surveys, particularly of the 360-feedback, the next step is to improve your survey skills. First of all, you must determine if a survey is even necessary. If your company has no big issues and generates a satisfying income, then a survey will be relatively useless.

When determining if a survey is needed, make a comprehensive assessment of your employees in relation to the organization’s shared values. Otherwise, the results may support competitive behavior and damage the working environment. Some employees can be self-obsessed and, by offering personal comparison, you will make things worse. Avoid this error. Instead, establish whether employees can measure up to the company’s principles and values.

Jason Phillips is a regular blogger and an expert freelance writer. He has written several times on the topics like negotiation and business. His site thegappartnership.com.hk provides negotiation workshops and exceptional negotiation skills.


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Jason Phillips is a business writer and blogger. He has written several high quality articles. He also works for 247 Web Experts offering website designing and internet marketing services.

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