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Limitations of 360­ degree feedback

It is not that 360­ degree feedback is flawed. It is that way too many companies make mistakes while implementing 360 reviews. You should be aware of the limitations to avoid the failure trap.

Impact lies outside the process

360­ degree feedback processes can only have positive impact if everyone works on the feedback you give them afterwards. They need to understand the whole lot of feedback they receive and work out the next steps to take. Since that is not built-in knowledge for many, feedback recipients need coaching, which many companies forget to include in the process. 

The need and the will to follow ­up

When 360­ degree feedback is used for personal development, there is no mandatory follow­-up. Combined with a busy work schedule of some, no follow ­up mandate can lead to neglect. It means that some employees do not do anything about the result of a 360 review. An effective solution is to assign the follow-up task to a responsible person, most commonly a line manager.

Focus on the wrong end

There is a tendency to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths when giving 360­ degree feedback. Many people think of growth as correcting mistakes and improving weaknesses. However, you can reap much sweeter fruits with maximising strengths and using them in the right place. Feedback should be more about building strengths than working on weaknesses.

The possibility to integrate

It is difficult to integrate a 360 review into a company’s culture of giving feedback. People tend to consider it as an one-time event, pursuing very little to no follow­-up. How to position biannually 360 reviews into a culture of continuous feedback is not an easy question to answer. But it is what companies need to find out if they want to build a culture of feedback that benefits their people.

The success of a 360­ degree feedback process depends mainly on the people involved in it. HR or whoever in charge of arranging for 360­ degree feedback to be given and received. You also have to count the feedback recipients who need to work on the results. Never to forget the givers who kindly (and bravely) offer their insight. There arealso the line managers, whose roles are not so obvious but very significant. 

Basically, each individual needs to play his or her role right. Running a 360 review is a skill that a team needs to master. In the following three chapters, you will find more information about the responsibilities of each role, and useful tips to do 360 effectively.