Nonsense dressed up cleverly : criticism of 360 degree feedback

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I just read this blog post on 360 feedback that broadly concludes that it is a waste of time. 

I generally like posts like these because they make me challenge my own thinking.  But then, the first part says that 360 only confirms the manager’s original prejudices.  Frankly that is simplistic nonsense.  First, 360 is for the recipient, not the manager.  Second, 360 normally challenges all readers of the report : the recipient, the debriefer, and of course the manager.  Finally, if a manager does have incorrect prejudices what do we advocate – ignore them and hope they go away.

The second point is worse.  It suggests that people should just be left be – hoping that their moment will arrive.  360 feedback isn’t about driving people against hard targets and trying to get star performance every minute of the day – it is about looking at how people work and encouraging them to reflect on their behaviours.  Talking to people about how things are going, looking at the impact their behaviour has on others and developing them is a good thing surely?

And, why it challenges diversity is beyond me.  I can see a theoretical problem: we generate identikit employees by reviewing all the same behaviours, but really in practice I can’t think of any instance because people are not identikits.  How they interpret a particular behaviour, respond to it, and look to deliver it is very different. 

I’ll assume that this was just a controversial post to illicit interest – if so, then it worked on me.  If not, then I’ll just move on.

Brendan

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