While 360 degree feedback can be a powerful tool for cultural change in an organisation, a common mistake is to see its implementation as an end goal in itself.
In many ways this is missing the point entirely as 360 degree feedback is not a solution to performance problems but rather an effective measurement tool that can identify problems and highlight areas for improvement.
Like any good measurement tool it can be used in several ways and from the outset it’s important to establish the reasons for establishing a 360 degree feedback programme. To do this you need to ask if you are trying to:
- Re-enforce company/organisation values?
- Influence or drive cultural change?
- Create an open management system?
- Improve performance?
- Collect data to use for other initiatives
It’s only when these questions have been answered can you think tactically and work out where 360 feedback will sit in relation to other HR systems and activities, and the detailed way in which the information will be used.
For example, it could be used as:
- part of self-development
- an element within a formal training structure
- a means of getting a fix on a particular performance problem
- a way of introducing competency-based activities
- an aid to career development.
- part of formal performance appraisal
- establishing suitability for bonus or other rewards
Of course, different uses for the technique have different implications. For example, the technique can be seen as more intrusive if it is used as a way to determine rewards than when it is used a training tool.
Whatever it’s used for, failure to clearly define the objectives at a strategic level will only lead to confusion.