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The 60-Second Consultant

A minute of shared wisdom
about 360-degree feedback
coaching and leadership
from Timothy Bentley

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The Many Gifts Of Feedback

If you’re attempting to communicate the benefits of 360-degree feedback to decision-makers, think about Russian dolls.

Those who hold the purse strings often worry that the process will benefit only the individual who is assessed. But in reality feedback is like an unexpected series of gifts. Open one doll and, surprise, there’s another doll inside. Open that one, and yet another pops into view.

The person assessed

There’s no question that recipients of 360-degree feedback receive valuable input about their skills. Because their feedback includes unstructured comments as well as numerical ratings, they can take it in from both sides of their brains.

As their effectiveness improves, their satisfaction at work increases, creating a virtuous cycle.

Responders benefit

But there’s more. For responders, providing feedback anonymously allows them to praise good work without appearing to be motivated by rewards, and to provide a critique without being blamed.

From another perspective, the provision of 360 tells them that their organization cares about everyone’s experience, not just their boss’s. And it reassures them: good leadership is being recognized, and poor leadership identified for improvement.

Performance appraisal

Supervisors appreciate 360-degree feedback because, generally speaking, they hate performance appraisals. Seeing themselves as doers, not talkers, they’re often not comfortable trying to direct an evaluation conversation.

The 360 report provides them with an agenda that they can examine together with the employee. While they may be nervous about raising difficult issues, the feedback supports them with clear data.

Improved organizational capacity

The benefits to the organization as a whole are several. In the marketplace, the use of 360 identifies the organization as a preferred employer in human development practices.

And of course everyone, from cleaners to shareholders, benefits when feedback nudges up productivity.

Quantified info

Furthermore, 360s offer leaders a tool to broadly assess the organization’s capabilities.

By aggregating the results of feedback across the organization, they can identify areas where the organization functions above expectations (areas they can market, proudly and loudly), and those that need development (where they can focus scarce training dollars).

Those are a lot of beautiful dolls.

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