A recent article in Forbes had above title (but without the bit we added in parentheses), so naturally it piqued my interest which is what such provocative titles are designed for.
I often find in articles which take an extreme position on a particular topic or organisational practice, it is because the author has had a poor experience; that appears true here too.
Their experience of 360 feedback was where it’s use was for performance review and promoting people; whilst 360 feedback can inform these processes, such purposes can lead to abuse of something primarily designed to raise an individual’s self-awareness and assist in their personal development.
It isn’t really suited to evaluate or pass a verdict; as well as creating anxiety in the recipient, the feedback provided by respondents often misses the mark as they are more concerned of the consequences for the individual, as opposed to writing good quality feedback which is genuinely helpful.
If we want 360 degree feedback to benefit both organisations and individuals, we have to stay true to the purpose it was designed for; it’s no use saying the hammer we have is bad at banging screws into the wall!
Where I do find myself in agreement with the article, is where it broadens out it’s perspective to the concept of building trust and relationships in an organisation – the author argues that with high trust and good quality relationships, we can talk to each other, offer feedback, give context, etc – we don’t need to wait a year to give feedback in a 360 feedback programme.
This is true and desirable, but these wishes, and a having structured 360 process, are not mutually exclusive – good quality written feedback, brought together into one report, and shared with the recipient during a face-to-face debrief where they can pause and reflect, is simply another means to the same admirable end.