“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”, said Bill Gates.
There is no doubt that individuals need constructive feedback to reflect and improve themselves. In the workplace, employers are encouraged to have a good feedback system to assist staff in understanding their strengths and weakness and give insights into their areas of professional development.
360 degree feedback is a tool that provides staff with assessments of their work-based behaviours coming from the perspectives of people who work with them. It is named 360 degree because the responses are collected from people all-around the employees- their supervisors, their colleagues or their clients. All of them can play an integral part in providing the employees with more insights of how they are perceived and how they can improve their performance.
360 degree feedback is a well-known concept and a powerful model for employee assessment and performance improvement. It differs from employee appraisal which solely comes from the views of their supervisors/managers. It answers the question “how you do things” instead of “what you do”. Such feedback results in a better-informed discussion.
The approach does not only apply to employees but also to the managers. In some cases, organisations hire external consultants to conduct 360 degree feedback for the managers. The consultants will share feedback and its implications to the managers to plan improvements for them and their departments.
So what are some advantages of using 360 degree feedback?
A More-Rounded Perspective
The feedback will be more valuable than the top-down appraisal as it is reflective of multiple points of view and reduce the distortion of results from just one perspective. If the company only applies the traditional method of top-down appraisal, the result could be incorrect and insufficient. For instance, an employee can be viewed negatively by his manager yet he is loved by the customers. The top-down appraisal neglects employee’s strength in engaging customers, which is an important factor in evaluating his performance.
Reduce the Effect of Discrimination
Bias can happen. Some employees are more favoured than the others, but not because of their work. Discrimination in terms of race, age or gender can be brought down when feedback is gathered from different people, from various job functions and various background. The horn effects and halo effects are rating errors, which are caused when the observers let one trait they see overshadow other traits. Feedback coming solely from one individual may be subject to these biases, while the errors can be reduced with the participation of more people.
A Team-Building Method
360 degree feedback allows employees to learn how they work or perform in a team. Without a proper channel, one may find it difficult to express their comments to other teammates due to sensitivities. An improvement in communication within teams will lead to stronger teamwork and rapport.
Encourage Personal Development
The intention of a feedback system is not to criticise one’s behaviours, nor is it meant to make people feel negative about others or themselves. One needs to understand their strengths and weaknesses for personal development. 360 degree feedback provide users with an insightful overview of their personal traits and qualities. Conducted properly, 360 degree feedback can contribute positively to employees’ personal and professional development.
360 degree feedback is one of the most developed tool in employees assessment. However, due to the high cost and complexity arising from the implementation, companies often choose to use it on senior management only.
Establishing a scheme can be daunting at first but it promises many benefits for the organisation. The value of constructive feedback can be achieved by building a properly designed and implemented scheme, with a fundamental intention to motivate and inspire people to grow their competencies and attitudes.