Every once in a while, I talk to someone who shares a bad experience about 360 degree feedback. In every instance, I’ve seen that at least one of the following four factors played a role:
1. No Coaching: Without support to help interpret and use the results, most people will zero in on their negative feedback and begin speculating on who gave them bad scores. Others will discount their feedback because they don’t know how to process it and use it to make changes. Either way, some type of leadership coaching needs to be provided to help 360 degree feedback participants use their results effectively.
2. Lack of Confidentiality: Many times this happens when a company purchases a software program to run 360 degree feedback internally. Unfortunately, people begin to think that HR will be able to see who said what. Raters become reluctant to provide honest feedback and participants worry if the results will be used against them. Outsourcing the process to a professional 360 degree feedback company increases the perceived confidentiality of the process.
3. Poor Rater Selection: Participants should have input into who is chosen to provide them feedback. If they don’t have a say, they may discount their feedback because they don’t think their rater group is relevant. If they have complete control they may “stack the deck” in their favor. We recommend allowing participants to choose their raters with guidance and final approval from their manager.
4. Irrelevant 360 Survey: If the 360 degree feedback survey does not measure relevant leadership competencies and behaviors, the participants will discount the feedback. We recommend using a customized 360 survey or a standard 360 survey that matches the values, culture, and expectations of the organization.