Should we call it something other than 360?

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One of the major trends for us over the past few years has been the inclusion of feedback from a range of people as part of the performance appraisal process.  From a software perspective we have an integrated system so it may be that we see more of this because competitor’s don’t have the same capability but it does look to be a broader trend in the market.

If we look back 10 years, 360 feedback was something quite specific.  There were strong arguments in research and practice that it worked best when it was developmental.  It was built around competencies and behaviours and was something quite different from appraisal.  We continue to consult, debrief, and provide the software for “360″ but is it the same as the performance appraisal activity?

Often, as short hand, 360 feedback is used to mean any feedback that is received from a range of people.  So, we too will refer to a client’s appraisal system making use of 360 feedback.  But, I wonder did we lose something in the merger?

Gaining input into the performance review process from a range of people often makes sense.  Organisational structures, geographical locations, team-based and project based working all mitigate against the manager having the full picture.  Yet, the feedback has a different context when it is linked to appraisal and particularly when it is linked directly or indirectly to remuneration.

There is something attractive in the idea of receiving developmental feedback – that you have asked for, wish to receive, understand the purpose of and all intend to be developmental.  You can set up systems, processes, people all geared to the leader/manager being well positioned to receive the feedback, accept it, and draw out actions and commit to them.  You can consider all of the recent neuroscience research on feedback and set the process up accordingly.

Appraisal/performance review is a valid process considering performance at work against goals, targets, business values, etc.  It is often structure to suit the organisation.  As I’ve said, gathering feedback from others on that performance makes sense but it is not what 360 feedback is in its most effective form.

The answer … do them both!  Gain feedback on performance annually however you see fit and in whatever way works best.  Gain developmental feedback for leaders separately at a different time of the year.  That way you have two conversations at different times of the year with a different focus.  Of course there will be overlap but better to have two highly meaningful conversations with overlap than miss out on the real benefits of 360 feedback.

 

Brendan

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