360-degree feedback: 10 most common mistakes and how to avoid them

Post by
Karthick Sundar
360-degree feedback: 10 most common mistakes and how to avoid them

Are you planning to execute a 360-degree feedback process in your company?

Over 85% of Fortune 500 companies use the 360-degree feedback process to cornerstone their overall leadership development process. Why? Because when implemented in the right way, 360-degree feedback systems can lead to a significant positive change and enhance effectiveness at many levels. It can also promote the mindset of constant growth in the organization as it lets your employees' voices be heard and allows them to communicate with each other openly.

Most common 360-degree feedback mistakes

Listed here are some most common 360-degree feedback mistakes that you can avoid.

1. No clear purpose

The unsuccessful implementation of 360-degree feedback is often considered a result of not knowing the reason behind it.

Solution:

  • 360-degree feedback models are robust. They should be designed and implemented to address specific business and strategic purposes, such as performance management, succession planning, management development, career development.
  • The key is to get specific and ensure you get the best solution for your circumstances.
  • Sometimes, that might mean not conducting a 360 process until other things are in place.

2. Not being aligned with company goals

If you do not measure employee's performance relevant to your company's mission, vision, and strategy, they will not develop capabilities that align with that of the company's goals.

Solution:

  • It would help if you considered company expectations and job-specific competencies.
  • Your assessment questionnaire needs to be well written to collect the information you are looking for.
  • Poorly asked questions will lead to data that is not useful.

3. Poor Communication

Poor communication can lead to misconceptions and misunderstandings.

When the individuals providing and receiving the feedback are unaware of the feedback program and how it is conducted, they may not be wholly involved with the process.

Solution:

  • It is essential to understand clearly and decide how the 360-degree feedback will be processed and directed.
  • Inform the individuals providing and receiving feedback about the program and address the - what, why, when, how. This will help them be more comfortable with the program.
  • Communicate about significant issues, such as the potential impact of negative feedback on someone's career and how you will safeguard confidentiality.

4. Trust issues

If your employees are afraid to get feedback or provide feedback, you will not achieve your desired outcome. Communication can help in building trust and reducing fear.

Solution:

  • Build trust by communicating early and encourage discussions regarding the process.
  • Remember, every 360-degree feedback process carries a particular risk for the participant.
  • Always ensure that all the stakeholders and other interested parties have thoroughly discussed their concerns before implementation.

5. Compromising confidentiality

The very base of 360-degree feedback is that employees should feel safe while providing anonymous feedback. It can ruin employees' careers if confidentiality or anonymity is compromised.

Solution:

  • Understand which data is confidential and which is anonymous.
  • Safeguarding the feedback provider's confidentiality is much more critical than providing more information to receivers.

6. Not involving key stakeholders

Feedback has the power to build or ruin people's reputations. The more information-sharing and accountability goes into the process, the more critical for stakeholders to be involved.

Solution:

  • Identify and get the key stakeholders involved.
  • Keep the stakeholders informed. They can be senior managers, the intended receivers of 360-degree feedback, their immediate managers, and the input providers, such as staff, team members, and customers.

7. Using 360-degree feedback as a substitute

Managers tend to use 360-degree feedback to cause a behavior change in poor performers. They may think it can motivate the employees to improve, based on the feedback they get. While feedback from a 360-degree process can revive an employee's self-awareness, it can't replace direct communication between employees and their managers.

Solution: Managers should actively provide feedback to their employees without relying on a 360-degree feedback system to replace continuous performance management.

8. Making 360-degree feedback an event rather than a process

Many organizations introduce 360-degree feedback, like a new trend in the industry. They might even stop using it after a few trials. But, they don't realize that it's unlikely that a 360-degree feedback model will have a positive effect without follow-up and commitment to continuous improvement.

Solution: A 360-degree feedback process should be repeated from time to time. That way, it turns out to be a process whose goal is improving and increasing critical behaviors and competencies rather than just an event providing a one-time analysis to recipients.

9. No development plan

Many organizations have successfully conducted a 360-degree program and have still not experienced change or improvisations in their workspace. Why? Because they failed to do anything with the data and have wasted the time of both participants and respondents.

Solution:

  • Everyone receiving feedback needs to create some developmental goals based on their feedback.
  • These goals need to be both measurable and achievable.

10. No follow up

If you don't follow up after completing the 360-degree process, you will not know if it was a success or a failure? How will you know if the feedback received was helpful or not if you don't follow up?

Solution: Provide additional feedback six to twelve months after the initial data is collected and the 360-degree feedback procedure is completed.

To Wrap It Up

The 360-degree feedback model gives employees reviews that managers or superiors might not usually share with them. With the 360-degree system, employees understand how they're perceived by the people they work with.  The process also offers benefits to the organization. It can signal employees what behavior is expected and encouraged and what type of culture the organization has. They also show that all employees' opinions are essential and actively sought.

All in all, 360-degree feedback is a win-win deal for both employees and employers if carried out the right way.