Learn about the basic concept of 360 feedback and how it can be collected. Receive a definition of 360 feedback and its role in minimizing professional blind spots as part of development practices.
- Historically, many employees only get substantive feedback about their performance during an annual review what their direct supervisors, which isn't so bad if those supervisors truly had a front row seat to watch every interaction and then took the time to provide constructive criticism. But of course, that isn't typically the case. That's why the concept of 360 feedback emerged. Industrial psychologists discovered that employees could dramatically accelerate their professional growth if instead of a single point of reference for feedback, they were given full circle input from a broad range of colleagues, peers, direct reports, current and former managers, maybe even vendors and customers.
It's like getting a full tapestry instead of a single thread. 360 feedback gives employees richer, more comprehensive information about their performance that they can use to make positive changes. Today, there are a wide range of formal and informal ways to collect 360 degree feedback. The formal approach, sometimes called a 360 assessment, involves employees using a sophisticated tool, usually an online survey, to gather and analyze feedback about their performance from 10 to 20 people who have experience working with them over a certain period of time.
The survey asks respondents to anonymously evaluate an employee on a number of different competencies, typically using a combination of rankings and open-ended questions to produce more customized information. Participants also complete the same survey as a self-assessment. The goal is to dig down deeper than simply giving employees a grade on their functional skills or key metrics. It actually tries to uncover how they do their jobs, to extent to which they collaborate, communicate, promote innovation for example.
To answer those questions, the 360 instrument puts a quantitative spin on this qualitative data by graphing the results, showing a visual representation of the employee's relative rank on certain competencies compared to other people within the same company, industry, or job category. Plus, it often demonstrates an interesting contrast between the way the participants view themselves and the way others see them.
This type of presentation brings the results of the 360 feedback assessment to life, particularly for those who are more analytical. They provide a scientific interpretation and frame these intangible qualities as skill deficits or strengths, and give employees solid facts they can work with, real proof of impact. That's powerful. You'll find a wide range of these formal 360 feedback instruments on the market today.
Though some focus on learning agility or emotional intelligence, most of these 360 tools are designed for the current or emerging leader. Regardless, the key is to select one that has been professionally researched and adequately tested. As you might guess, the informal approach to 360 feedback involves a manager or HR representative gathering input about a particular employee from a larger group of people they work with.
This could happen through face to face interviews or an email survey. The approach has some limitations. Without the anonymity, some people may be reluctant to respond with full candor. But it does help to capture expanded information and give a more multifaceted view of employee performance. While this course will focus on the formal methods of 360 feedback, the information you'll learn here can easily be applied to an informal approach as well.
Now that you have a better understanding of 360 feedback, you can move forward to analyze the potential benefits of applying this concept within your organization.