Why so much 360 degree feedback is fundamentally flawed

Most 360 degree feedback surveys we come across have a fundamental problem – they say more about the observer than the delegate seeking the feedback!

The reason is that many 360s have statements that ask the observer to ‘rate’ a particular quality in the delegate. For example observers might be asked, “Please rate this statement on a scale from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’: John makes clear presentations”. In simple terms, the observer is asked to state how good they think someone is at something.

The problem is that this creates a very subjective comparison in the observer’s mind. If the observer is a great presenter and they consider the delegate to be good, but not quite as good as themselves, there is a tendency for the observer to disagree with the statement – ie to imply the delegate does not make clear presentations.

It works the other way round, too. An observer who is appalling at making presentations may select ‘strongly agree’ for someone who is an average, but not outstanding presenter, but who they consider to be better than them. They’re therefore implying the delegate is better at making clear presentations than they really are. In neither case do we get an accurate picture of the delegate’s true ability.

Of course a range of other factors can also influence how one person rates another – hierarchy, personal agendas, grudges, fear, embarrassment and friendship are just a few. But they all make it hard for a 360 degree feedback tool to reveal robust, useful data.

my360plus is different. Using the objectively-defined Schroder framework, it asks ‘how frequently’ the observer sees a very particular behaviour. For example, “How often do you observe Fred facilitate discussions to ensure everyone has the opportunity to contribute?”

They are asked to rate on a scale of ‘Never seen’ to ‘Always seen’. This approach makes the feedback from my360plus much more objective and therefore more accurate.

Ratings (‘Strength’, ‘Developing Strength’, ‘Limitation’ etc) are then created by assessing how consistently all the observers report seeing that particular behaviour at its variously-described levels. And as the Schroder behaviours have been shown in multiple studies to correlate with superior performance, we also know we are creating ratings about behaviours that actually matter when it comes to performance.

The result? Far more accurate and meaningful 360 feedback which creates more value and gives proper value for money.


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