Many organisations have turned to 360 degree feedback to enhance their performance development processes, and this is wise. 360 degree feedback is an exercise in managed subjectivity which captures excellent data on how the staff member is perceived. This data is captured by rater categories such as:
- Other stakeholders – perhaps customers.
The differences in scores between rater categories can be extremely valuable information about where a staff member needs to focus his or her development efforts. If my peer ratings are not as strong as my staff, then I have an indication of what to work on.
But 360 degree feedback can’t do everything. It is excellent for assessing the “How” of a staff member’s performance, but notoriously weak in assessing the “What” of the job. Efforts to turn 360 into an assessment of goal attainment, for instance, have typically failed. Goal attainment should be as objective as possible, but 360 degree feedback it is at its best when it is a planned exercise in subjectivity – capturing people’s views on the behaviours of a particular staff member, and providing guidance on where to change.