Busting the Myths of 360 Degree Feedback

by Kylee Stone Dec 5,2020

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Feedback is an essential for employee engagement and retention in every organization. It motivates the employees and boosts their morale. But, the top-down or the manager-employee feedback approach often seems to be incomplete and biased, so many organizations are opting for the 360 degree feedback process.

What Is 360 Degree Feedback?

Sometimes referred to as the multirater feedback, it is a process where feedback is collected from the managers, direct reports, peers, senior leadership, customers, vendors, etc. It presents an overall clear picture of an employee’s performance, behavioral skills, and competency.

Also Read: 7 Essential Features Of  A 360 Degree Feedback Tool

Benefits Of 360 Degree Feedback

  • Improves self-awareness 
  • Identifies training and development needs
  • Increases Accountability
  • Uncovers Blindspots
  • Promotes a culture of openness

Often, the outcome of the 360 degree feedback process is not as desired. Employees and management have many misconceptions or myths regarding the process. They end up either conducting the process wrongly or not using the outcome for the correct purpose. Some of the commonly experienced myths are as follows.

There Is No Question Of Bias

Personal relationships play a big part when it comes to reviewing each other in a 360 degree feedback process. Although it’s believed to remove the biases of a one-to-one traditional review process, biases creep in here too. Interpersonal relationships of a particular employee with their peers and managers tend to cloud the judgment of the reviewers. At times employees with better performance tend to receive average feedback because of a lack of a personal connection or bond with the reviewers. When more number of stakeholders are part of the process, the biasness reduces.

Also Read: Don’t Let Recency Bias Affect Your Performance Discussions

Only Underperformers Need It

On multiple occasions, employees who achieve their targets on time assume that they don’t need to be part of the 360 degree feedback process. But it focuses on the process instead of the outcome. By focusing on the process of how things are getting done, there is a higher chance of achieving success.

In multirater feedback, team lead, manager, or other employees are not assessed based on the number of targets achieved, but rather on how it was achieved. It looks into how an employee fared in performing duties as a team member, leader, manager, and as an employee of the organization. It helps them to know their blindspots and gaps. So, it is meant not only meant for the underperformers but also everyone else working in the organization.

Benefits Only The Management

Most performance management systems tend to restrict employees to a bell-curve and help in deciding the promotions and salaries of the employees. But 360 degree feedback tends to differ and does value addition not only for the management and the organization but for the employees as well.

In the 360 degree feedback process employees receive feedback from everyone, which helps them to identify their weaknesses. It helps in the overall development of the employee and improves their prospects. In return, the organization gets to retain a workforce that is self-aware and always striving to learn and grow. Thus the myth that 360 degree feedback is management centric is debunked.

Also Read: The Importance Of  360 Degree Feedback For Healthcare

Redundant in Open Organizations 

Organizations that follow an open structure believe that they do not require a 360 degree feedback process in their organization. Leadership and management claim that an open structure promotes more effective and open communication among all employees. But it is highly unlikely for employees to give any feedback to their peers or managers without someone explicitly asking them for it. By establishing the organization as open and rejecting the multirater process, they might deprive themselves of future leaders and mindful employees.

A Tool To Identify Underperformers

The 360 degree feedback process should never be used as a tool to resolve performance-related problems. The multirater process should be used only to gain insights on the employee and improve their skills. It can be a part of performance management, but it cannot be the only scale to measure performance. Removing someone based on negative feedback from others will lead to resentment and anger from all employees. Thus, 360 feedback should be used as a constructive tool to identify development opportunities for employees. If someone is underperforming, then managers should deal with them separately and not make it a part of the multirater process.

Also Read: Employee Engagement Practices During COVID19

It Ends At Reviews And Reports

Conducting 360 degree feedback and generating reports is not the end of the multirater process. Employees need guidance on how to interpret the results. Many organizations believe that their employees are competent enough to interpret the results correctly, but often it is found otherwise. A wrong interpretation of the data can turn  a great 360 degree feedback process into a waste of time. HRs and managers should help the employees with an action plan and also help them identify the results correctly.

Which of these myths has held back your organization to take full advantage of the multirater process? Hopefully we have successfully busted those myths.

Are you looking out for a 360 degree feedback software for your organization? Then request a live demo.

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Kylee Stone

Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.

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