What is 360-Degree Feedback? Why is it important?

In human resources or industrial/organizational psychology, 360-degree feedback, also known as multi-rater feedback, multisource feedback, or multisource assessment, is feedback that comes from all around an employee. “360” refers to the 360 degrees in a circle, with an individual figuratively in the center of the circle. Feedback is provided by subordinates, peers, and supervisors but can also be extended to external sources such as customers and suppliers or other interested stakeholders with a unique working relationship and involvement with that person. It also includes a self-assessment and, in some cases, feedback may be contrasted with “upward feedback,” where managers are given feedback by their direct reports, or a “traditional performance appraisal,” where the employees are most often reviewed only by their managers.

The premise behind 360-degree feedback is that a person contributes to an organization’s success in complex ways and that this is best observed through the perspectives of the various people interacting with that person, rather than through only one person’s eyes (typically the employee’s manager).

Although 360-degree feedback offers a powerful tool for gaining insight into strengths and weaknesses of the feedback recipient, the real return on investment comes from its ability to bring about positive changes in someone’s behavior.

It is recommended to use 360-degree feedback primarily for development purposes.  The results from 360-degree feedback are often used by the person receiving the feedback to plan training and development.  This feedback facilitates an environment that encourages self- development, which leads to job satisfaction. This minimizes turnover and the costs associated with replacing employees.

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