Many of our customers are looking to use 360 degree feedback as a means of measuring development progress around an L&D intervention of some kind. Easy: just do a 360 feedback before you start, do one again a while later and then compare the numbers. Job done.
After all, that’s what your 720 degree feedback tool is for isn’t it?
It’s a bit more subtle than that. You see, the feedback scores you gather when you do a 360 degree feedback exercise are essentially measures of subjective opinion and perception. These are not easy things to measure accurately and repeatably. What’s more they are influenced by any number of factors.
For example: when you do your L&D intervention – whatever it may be – you inevitably raise people’s awareness of the behaviours and attitudes required in your organisation. Otherwise why do it? But as a consequence you also raise awareness of where they’re not happening and that means that the second time around people are likely to be more critical in their assessment than they were before.
Another factor is that people gain confidence in the process. To begin with they may be a bit apprehensive about what the information is going to be used for; the level of confidentiality; whether comments that they make may be career limiting or whatever. As a result they may be over generous with their feedback the first time around. Not so when 360 degree feedback has become an accepted part of the organisation’s culture.
When people give feedback they hope that the recipient will take some notice of what’s said, and they will be looking for indications that the appraisee is making an effort to take key messages on board. If they don’t then raters are likely to be less forgiving the second time around and dish out some harsher feedback as a result.
But by and large we do see progress as a result of 360 degree review interventions – it’s just that you may have to be a little more canny about how you interpret the results before jumping to any conclusions.