The name comes from a circle. There are 360 degrees in a circle.
The basic idea is that input into an employees performance comes from a circle of sources. It was originally known as multiple-rater input. It is also known as multi-source feedback.
It is sometimes referred to as 450° Feedback when sources outside the organisation are used to provide input. These sources could be clients, suppliers and government regulators.
There are three essential categories in an effective 360° feedback system: (1) peers/colleagues, (2) direct reports/subordinates and (3) manager/team leader/supervisor.
Optional categories include self, team members, project manager (outside direct department), union official and representative of the human resources department.
The two essential characteristics are that there are four to ten participants and that these people remain anonymous. The recipient of the information does not know who said what about him/her.
The people who provide input (raters) should know the ratee well.
The system is only as good as the information provided by the raters. Any optional raters selected by the ratee should be people with whom the ratee interacts regularly and therefore have sufficient knowledge about the ratees performance to provide valuable input.
This system has become widespread over the last few years. While it is used extensively internationally it has proven particularly popular in many Asian and Middle Eastern cultures where people are not direct with each other. These locations are referred to as high context cultures.
There are numerous uses for 360° feedback. The following are the main ones:
Career development, teambuilding, performance management, diversity awareness, high potential performers, internal training programmes, counselling, culture, organisational change, values, succession planning, leadership, needs analyses, sales management, performance appraisal.
This type of feedback is particularly useful with performance appraisals.
However, I am currently working on a project with leadership.
The leaders in my project complete an instrument regarding their leadership style and their direct reports also complete the instrument on how they see their leaders style. I then combine all the results to give the leader a view of his/her true style.
The problem with any type of behaviour in the workplace is that we see ourselves as we would like to be seen. This is not necessarily how our direct reports see us.
This use of 360° feedback allows the leader to see him/herself as others see the style.
© Copyright 2012 A. Paul P. Loftus. All Rights Reserved.
Paul Loftus is a regular visitor to the Island where he conducts both in-company and public management development seminars.