Some time ago, I came across the following quote from Professor Clive Fletcher, Goldsmiths College, University of London, and it inspired me to investigate what 360-Degree Feedback actually meant:
“The concept of 360-degree feedback makes a lot of sense and, if used well, should have a great deal to offer. It seems to suit the move towards the less hierarchical, more flexibly-structured and knowledge-based organisations of the future”
This paper is but a brief commentary on the subject. At the end of the paper, I have provided some links to further resources and information if you want to explore it further.
The original idea of developing Best Practice Guidelines in 360-degree feedback was developed from a collaborative research project, The Feedback Project. The Project Director was Professor Christine Farrell. You can access the document online at: www.psytech.com
In today’s changing and volatile world, organisations are continually looking for ways to improve performance, and satisfy the demands of all stakeholders. Achieving this almost inevitably involves change, which then becomes the pivotal dynamic for success.
For an organisation to evolve, the people working within it will have to adapt; and for this to be successful, they first of all need to know what it is about the way they are currently performing that needs to change.
This is where 360-degree feedback is playing a growing role in organisations through its ability to provide structured, in depth information about current performance and what will be required of an individual in the future to enable detailed and relevant development plans to be formulated.
Professionally managed, 360-degree feedback increases individual self-awareness, and as part of a strategic organisational process can promote:
- Increased understanding of the behaviours required to improve both individual and organisational effectiveness;
- More focused development activities, built around the skills and competencies required for successful organisational performance;
- Increased involvement of people at all levels of the organisation;
- Increased individual ownership for self-development and learning;
- Increased familiarity with the implications of cultural or strategic change.
360-degree feedback is a process whereby an individual (the recipient) is rated on their performance by people who know something about their work (the raters). This can include direct reports, peers and managers and in some cases customers or clients, in fact anybody who is credible to the individual and is familiar with their work can be included in the feedback process. This is usually in addition to completing a self-assessment on performance. The resulting information is presented to the individual with the aim of helping them to gain a better understanding of their skills and development areas.
Each source can provide a different perspective on the individual’s skills, attributes and other job relevant characteristics and thus help to build up a richer, more complete and accurate picture than could be obtained from any one source.
The Role of Technology in 360-degree Feedback
Increasingly, computers are used to support 360-degree feedback processes, and have considerable advantages in reducing the administration and in gathering feedback where people work on different sites and in different countries. When gathering information in this way, particularly where the Internet is the medium, it is important to ensure the process is secure and that the information will remain confidential to the agreed people involved in the process.
Books etc on the subject (some of these may be out of date or may have been updated since I first prepared the list):
- Alimo-Metcalfe, B. (1998). 3600 Feedb ack and Leadership Development. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 6, 35-44.
- Armstrong, M. and Baron, A. (1998). Performance Management Feature: Out of the tick box. People Management, 23 July, 38-41.
- Chivers, W. and Darling, P. (1999) 360-degree Feedback and Organisational Culture. Institute of Personnel and Development, London.
- Fletcher, C. (1998) ‘Circular Argument’ People Management, 1st October, 46-49.
- Fletcher, C (1997) Appraisal: Routes to Improved Performance. Institute of Personnel and Development, London.
- Fletcher, C. (1997) Self-awareness – a neglected attribute in selection and assessment? International Journal of Selection and Assessment, vol 5, 183-187.
- Fletcher, C., Baldrey, C., & Cunningham-Snell, N. (1998). The psychometric properties of 360-degree feedback; an empirical study and a cautionary tale. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, vol 6, 19-34.
- Fletcher, C. and Baldry, C. (1999). Multi-source feedback systems: a research perspective. In C.L. Cooper and I.T. Robertson (Eds.) International Review of Industrial and Organizational psychology, Vol. 14. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
- Garrow, V. (1999) A Guide to the Implementation of 360-degree feedback. Roffey Park Institute Limited, Sussex.
- Geake, A., Oliver, K. and Farrell, C. (1998). The Application of 360-Degree Feedback: A Survey. SHL, Thames Ditton, Surrey.
- Goodge, P. and Watts, P. (2000). How to manage 360-degree feedback, People Management, 17th February 50-52.
- Handy, L., Devine, M., & Heath, L. (1996) 3600 Feedback: Unguided Missile or Powerful Weapon. Ashridge Management Research Group, UK.
In the Bizezia online library, you will find 360-Degree Feedback the text for which I wrote some 5 or 6 years ago. If you would like a copy of it, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org