360-Degree Feedback

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Date Submitted: 09/04/2011 08:22 AM

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Weighing the Pros and Cons

By Terri Linman

360-degree Feedback, or multi-rater feedback, was used by 90% of Fortune 500 companies last year (Carruthers, 2003). It is generally believed to be a highly effective performance evaluation tool yet there are many who doubt its benefits. Considering factors for the success and the failure of this popular method will provide guidelines and suggestions for its use.

360-degree Feedback Definition

360-degree feedback is an evaluation method that incorporates feedback from the worker, his/her peers, superiors, subordinates, and customers. Results of these confidential surveys are tabulated and shared with the worker, usually by a manager. Interpretation of the results, trends and themes are discussed as part of the feedback. The primary reason to use this full circle of confidential reviews is to provide the worker with information about his/her performance from multiple perspectives. From this feedback, the worker is able to set goals for self-development which will advance their career and benefit the organization. With 360-degree feedback, the worker is central to the evaluation process and the ultimate goal is to improve individual performance within the organization. Under ideal circumstances, 360-degree feedback is used as an assessment for personal development rather than evaluation (Tornow, W., 1998). Unfortunately, not all circumstances are ideal.

Factors Linked to Success

Organizations who experience success with the 360-degree feedback methods have many environmental attributes present. Some of these are:

Organizational climate fosters individual growth

Criticisms are seen as opportunities for improvement (Randel, A., 2004)

Proper framing of feedback method by management

Assurance that feedback will be kept confidential

Development of feedback tool based on organizational goals and values

Feedback tool includes area for comments (Hoffmanner, A., 2004)