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360 Degree Feedback Programs don't work! Here are seven reasons that prove it

by , 25 May 2015
While some swear by the 360 degree feedback, other specialists gather reasons against this method of reviewing performance.

As we've previously explained, the process implies that the employee receives feedback from his superiors and also colleagues, regarding strengths and weak points.

When done efficiently, 360 programs "allow all your team members to improve in key areas that might be limiting their upward career path or actually causing major conflict within a team. When it's done poorly, 360 programs create mistrust, anger, conflict and can leave a team with lower morale than when you started the exercise", explains Eric Jackson for Forbes magazine.

He also offers seven reasons why 360 degree feedback programs fail:

1. The employer doesn't get involved or discounts the program's importance. Thus, any 360 degree feedback programs that don't get enough attention and engagement from the HR department won't be efficient.

It's essential that the employer believes in the efficiency of this process.

2. The tools or the questions that the 360 feedback program uses are too vague. Jackson explains that many 360 programs only contain personality profiles.

'Are you an ESTJ or an INFP?' 'Are you a red or blue color?' It's amazing how popular personality profiles have become. Some people get to be 'true believers' in them. However, if that's the extent of your 360 questionnaire, you're likely going to have a hard time translating your team's profiles into specific and measureable actions. Make sure that the tool you select is going to give back actionable information. - Eric Jackson

3. The given feedback is not constructive, only personal. This makes the experience rather negative whenever such a thing happens. It's just another example of how you should never say something you wouldn't like to hear yourself.

4.    "No plan is set following receiving the feedback". In other words, like Jackson explains it, the 360 degree feedback proves its efficacy only if it benefits from a follow-up. But in most cases, these programs stop after feedback is given and without a follow up, there will be no change.

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5. The follow-up post-360 plan happens only once. Another mistakes business do is to undergo a single follow-up and then stop. Behavioral change needs continuous monitoring and the ones in charge should revisit a post-360 plan periodically. "You need to do it quarterly for two years (at which time, it's appropriate to recirculate the same 360s again to see how perceptions have changed)", says Jackson.

6. If people fear that confidentiality is lacking, the employer has to ensure the employees that the information given is confidential and that it won't influence other performance reviews.

Most companies prefer external HR specialists for the precise reason that their employees "seem more comfortable opening up to an external coach during a two-year follow-up period about how they're progressing on their plan, rather than an internal HR person," explains Jackson.

7. Finally, focusing only on weaknesses is another reason such 360 degree feedback processes fail. It's because of the fact many companies see weaknesses as targets to be identified and corrected.

Jackon explains that Type A execs feed on this and usually want to zero in on their weaknesses and also tend to forget about their strengths. The forgotten fact, he says, is that your strengths are what got you to where you are in your career.

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