360 Degrees of Pain

360 degree feedback is akin to a chairman asking football players to decide if the coach should be sacked or not. The idea is to gather opinions from everyone, including the individual themsleves, and use them to review performances. It’s dangerous because the comments are not necessarily based on facts and someone has to decide which ones carry greater weight.

Theoretically annoymous contributors can say what they want. In practice, in a small team, specific comments enable identification. Staff are likely to go down the sycophantic route of offering false praise, in anticipation of later favours. Those who make critical remarks run the risk of being classed as a statistical anomaly and ignored, because their opinion does not match that of the assessor.

Relevant feedback should be genuine, not a product of a formal process. If you have something good to say, share it with the person or people concerned. If you can’t be positive and don’t feel comfortable talking,  stay silent and hit the delete button when the 360 degree survey appears in your inbox.

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