The 10 biggest myths and misconceptions about 360 degree feedback

If you are seeking the transformative effects of 360 appraisals for your business or company, it is essential that you understand the facts, as opposed to the commonly-held misconceptions surrounding the process.

If you are championing 360 feedback within your organisation, you may meet many of these myths head-on. Conversely, you may have concerns of your own – especially if horror stories of poorly-executed attempts at 360 degree feedback have reached your office.

To tackle this, we’ve rebutted the 10 most common misunderstandings about the 360 degree feedback process below:

It’s pointless, time consuming and people won’t change
In traditional feedback processes, such as annual performance appraisals, feedback comes from a single source – the person’s boss. However, in 360 degree feedback, the multi-rate system allows for all sorts of voices to be heard, providing a much better platform for evaluation. It is this atmosphere of evaluation, review and understanding that makes 360 degree feedback such a worthwhile pursuit, and more likely to result in personal and professional development. As for it being time consuming, this can be the case, but a 360 degree survey should not be used to plug pressing concerns and time-sensitive problems. It should be a process of change and not a snap decision.

Read More: 6 Ways to motivate your staff and colleagues to take part in a 360 initiative

360 degree feedback is a one-size-fits-all process
Although off-the-peg 360 degree feedback processes can be effective, a survey that reflects your brand values and company environment will prove far more valuable. Without a clear purpose your implementation is likely to be unsuccessful, especially if the survey does not reflect true-to-life performance issues or a particular strategic need.

Employees will jump at airing their views
Yes, your colleagues may enjoy a good gossip round the water cooler, but don’t presume they will jump at the chance to give open and honest feedback when given the chance. Instilling an environment of anonymity and confidentiality can help to quell their concerns of being ‘caught out’. Training and clear communication can also help reviewers focus on actionable feedback, as opposed to beliefs and assumptions.

360 degree surveys create positive change
Technically, 360 degree feedback surveys only facilitate positive change – they don’t ensure a magical outcome on their own. Transformation requires a whole host of factors to come into play; from informed reviewers and trustworthy data, to analysis and considered presentation of feedback. Plus, positive change implies all of the feedback will be positive. If a 360 degree feedback process is used for performance management, it could stir-up difficult conversations and uncomfortable questions from employees.

Read more: How to spot a good and bad 360 degree feedback survey

Data is the most essential component of 360 feedback appraisals
Data is just numbers and stats – it doesn’t have any value unless it is collected and analysed in a specific way. Simply any old data from a poorly constructed survey can undermine your whole attempt at a 360 survey. Similarly, presenting data to a recipient without careful consideration could leave them feeling anxious and confused, as opposed to prepped for positive transformation.

Feedback surveys provide facts
Reviewers are asked for their opinions, which means their survey is just a snapshot of their own perceptions and inherent biases – this is NOT fact. For example, four out of five on a rating scale could mean ‘very good’, but what does this mean from a recipient who has consistently scored fives throughout a survey? Could a four highlight bigger issues than its face value?

The feedback survey offers the most value to a recipient
A well-presented and formulated feedback survey can impress the recipient, but very few individuals can read a report and immediately identify their developmental issues – you will need to guide them through the process. As a result, it is YOU that offers that most value to a recipient. Addressing a recipients emotional needs and handling their instinctual reactions to good and bad feedback will ensure they are left on a path of change, not dejection. A follow-up process, like one-on-one coaching or training to implement feedback, can help too.

Read more: Reading body language in 360 feedback meetings

There’s nothing to lose by doing a 360 degree survey

Poorly planned, rushed and evaluated feedback systems can do much more harm than good, especially if there is an atmosphere of distrust or rapid change in your organisation. Consider whether your business or company is prepared for a 360 degree feedback process before implementing.

Read more: Spotting the early warning signs before things go wrong

It helps to weed out poor performers

360 degree feedback is about people, perceptions and opinions, which isn’t something that can be taken at face value when it comes to decisions of hiring and firing. Multi-rater feedback is about growth and development as opposed to fixing major issues in performance – something which should be tackled head-on. A manager shouldn’t wait for others to highlight issues before acknowledging them themselves, especially if they are negatively impacting the work environment and performance.

It’s a one-time only deal
Expense and time considerations make many organisations think of 360 degree feedback as a one-off. In fact, the feedback process is a tool that can be used regularly to track progress against certain key objectives and create aims for business development.

For more on this and other incredibly powerful insights and advice, get your copy of 360 Feedback : A Transformational Approach today.

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