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Seminar in Leadership and HRM

360째 Feedback

Group ET: Elena Corna Tania Mazzola

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Index: 1. Introduction 2. Definition 3. The purpose of 360° feedback 4. What does 360° feedback assess? 5. The process for implementing 360° feedback 6. The good side of 360° feedback 7. The bad side of 360° feedback 8. The influence of national culture in 360° feedback 9. Conclusions

1. Introduction Leadership effectiveness is fundamentally the practice of different principles, like building a collective vision, mission and values that help people bring out their best; establishing a honest communication environment; making information readily available; establishing trust and respect and creating an environment that stimulates extraordinary performance. If being effective is important, it should be measured. Each of us wants to know how we’re doing at work. Both leader and employee have a great need to know how others view their work but they want the information delivered in a kind and gentle fashion. How do they know are effective leaders? Or effective employee? The method arrives from 360° feedback.

2. Definition Feedback in general describes the situation when output (or information about the result of) from an event or phenomenon in the past will influence the same event/phenomenon in the present or future. 360° feedback, also known as “multi-rater feedback”, “multisource feedback”, or “multisource assessment”, is a confidential anonymous feedback that comes from all around an employee. "360" refers to the 360 degrees in a circle, with an individual EBC Consulting - Feedback360 --

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figuratively in the centre of the circle. Feedback is provided by subordinates, peers, and supervisors. It also includes a self-assessment and, in some cases, feedback from external sources such as customers and suppliers or other interested stakeholders. Nowadays the use of 360° feedback system grew in popularity, since its start during World War II, when the German Military used

feedback from multiple sources in order to

evaluate performance. Today the studies suggest that over one-third of U.S. companies use some type of multisource feedback, while in Italy it is a method still little known and not very practiced. Besides there are 270°-180° feedback, when the evaluators are fewer than those in a 360° feedback. The method of 360° 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.

3. The purpose of 360° feedback In order to understand the main aim of the method, we found interesting these words: “You need to know yourself well, your habits, strengths and shortcomings. Questioning yourself thoroughly is the beginning of change”. Managers and leaders within organizations use 360° feedback surveys to get a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, with the purpose of contributing insights into aspects of their work needing professional development. They cannot easily know if their followers are satisfied and if objectives are being met. So each person need to see more, hear more and understand more, in order to achieve the effective results for the firm and to exceed customer expectations. It’s not all. In fact 360° feedback also can be a useful development tool for people who are not in a management role, in fact it allows each individual to understand how his/her effectiveness as an employee, coworker, or staff member is viewed by others. So it helps them understand what areas they should focus on if they want to move into such a management role. Results are also used by some organizations in making administrative decisions, such as pay or promotion. When this is the case, the 360° feedback is for evaluation purposes, and is sometimes called a "360-degree review."

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In every situation in which the method is used results of the work help to motivate change, above all for the reason that the final report is very clear and simple, each area will have its strengths together with its improvement item.

4. What does 360째 feedback assess? The basic managerial skills in the evaluation process including the 360째 are: - INTEGRITY: ethics, reliability, self evaluation capacity, avoidance of risk, responsibility; - CREATIVITY: innovation, adaptability, holistic thinking, strategic skills, idea generation; - LOGICAL and ANALYTICAL SKILLS: rationality, numerical skills, critical evaluation, decision making, analytical skills; - ABILITY TO REPORT INTERPERSONAL SKILLS: empathy, interpersonal support, diplomacy, assertiveness; - RESILIENCE: balance, poise, temperance, soundly; - PERSUASION: communication skills, writing skills, coaching, public presence, listening skills; - PLANNING and ORGANIZATION: time management, orientation to the future, setting priorities, delegation skills, planning; - ORIENTATION TO QUALITY: thoroughness, concentration on tasks, completing tasks, systematic, high standards; - ENERGY and MOTIVATION: energy, self-motivation, results orientation, ability to motivate, initiative.

Particularly there can be a distinction in the evaluation of a manager or not, so there are different questions, too:

360 Survey if you are a leader/manager:

Skill competencies Initiative and risk taking Personal integrity Vision Quality of results Empowerment Communicating Delegating

Sample items Demonstrate a willingness to take the lead Exercise confidentiality when dealing with sensitive issues Keep people focused on future possibilities, rather than past accomplishment Demonstrate a consistent commitment to quality Allow you to use your judgment when making decisions Express ideas clearly Let people know what is expected of them before they begin a task

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Motivating Coaching Planning and Goal setting Problem solving/Decision making Creativity and innovation Technical competency Diversity Team work Mentoring

Set an appropriate example for others to follow Provide feedback in a constructive manner Develop realistic plans for reaching goals Generate alternative solutions when resolving problems Challenge current thinking for the way we have always done it Discuss technical matters so you can understand them Accept differences of option Work across functional groups to achieve company goals Increase levels of responsibilities to prepare you/others for a higher level position

360 Survey for non-managerial personnel, such as trainers, engineers, scientists, marketing. financial services. R&D and information services.

Skill competencies

Sample items

Initiative and risk taking

Demonstrate a willingness to take the lead

Personal integrity

Follow through on agreed to actions

Quality of results

Demonstrate a consistent commitment to quality

Planning and execution

Complete tasks, projects within the allocated budget

Problem solving/Decision making

Identify problems in their early stages

Creativity and innovation








discussions with you Technical competency

Display self confidence in her/his technical abilities


Present ideas or information in a persuasive manner


Remain calm when confronted with “different” points of view

Team work

Understand how his/her actions impact the work of others









To assess these competencies/skills the raters have to choose one of the alternatives answers. For example for developmental skills the alternatives are: 5. Always demonstrates this skill/competency 4. Usually demonstrates this skill/competency EBC Consulting - Feedback360 --

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3. Sometimes demonstrates this skill/competency 2. Seldom demonstrates this skill/competency 1. Never demonstrates this skill/competency

Anyway 360° feedback is not a way to measure employee performance objectives or to determine whether an employee is meeting basic job requirements; it’s not focused on basic technical or job-specific skills and it should not be used to measure strictly objective things such as attendance, sales quotas, etc. Consequently it’s fundamental that the proposer of 360° feedback is its utilization for feedback only and not for decision making.

6. The process for implementing 360° feedback The exact form of 360° feedback systems varies from organizations to organizations, but several aspects of these programs are common across most settings. The design and implementation of the 360 degree feedback system requires thoughtful planning. Are the employees accepting the system? Are the goals, procedures and benefits of the system clearly defined? Is the rating instrument relevant, valid and reliable? In order for the 360 degree feedback system to be successful there must be employee acceptance of the system. There are guidelines to using the 360 degree feedback system successfully: 1.

ensure that the 360 degree feedback system is consistent and fit with the culture of the organization and the expectations of the employees; Often, unfortunately, a 360 degree feedback process arrives as a recommendation from the HR department or is shepherded in by an executive who learned about the process at a seminar or in a book. Instead is needed a coherent culture and knowledge about it. Thus, the first step is to identify, define, and incorporate the job performance behaviors, knowledge, and skills into the appraisal system. So also the workers know which is the main goal of the process.


conduct an information campaign that highlights the benefits and fairness of 360 feedback, and outline the process in some detail. Both 'self' and 'other' appraisal accuracy should be promoted and rewarded.


ensure that the rating instruments are relevant, valid, and reliable; It must measure what it proposes to measure, consistently and accurately. emphasize the importance

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of the raters being familiar with the employee's performance and provide raters the opportunity of "opting out" if they are not; 4.

encourage and train raters on how to provide accurate ratings;


promote a participative environment where individual feedback is rewarded; to increase the perception of justice, employees should be encouraged to be active participants in the evaluation. A multiple source feedback works best in an environment that is team-oriented and cooperative. Giving individuals the opportunity to voice their opinions about the system's construction, process, and results will increase employee buy-in, acceptance, and will yield useful suggestions.


administer the performance appraisal system regularly and consistently;


continue to communicate information about the 360 degree feedback system; it is important to communicate to the employees the precise way in which ratings are to be combined, as well as the purpose, benefits and procedures of the 360 degree feedback system.


treat employees with sensitivity and respect; It is also important to train the feedback providers to be sensitive, respectful and polite. Treating employees in a friendly and respectful manner, and offering constructive advice will make them more open to accepting the performance appraisal system.


ensure that offensive or actionable coworker feedback is not returned to an employee. There must be an hard sense of true: it’s the essence of 360 feedback.

The practical steps of a 360° feedback: 1st STEP: The process usually begins with the development of the questionnaire feedback. 2nd STEP: The managers provide self evaluations in all the areas interested to be covered. Then he/she identifies the raters from whom receive feedback. In many cases, the manager chooses peers, subordinates, and possibly even superiors who would be asked to provide the additional evaluations. In other cases, someone in charge of the process selects random peers and others; in yet other cases, all the peers, subordinates, and supervisors are asked to provide ratings. In most situations, each rater is asked to provide evaluations in all areas under considerations, although, in some cases, the raters are told to provide EBC Consulting - Feedback360 --

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ratings in some areas and not others, or are told to provide ratings only in areas where they fill competent to do so. 3rd STEP: Communication and launch of training. All participants are made aware on what to do and ensure them that the questionnaire will be strictly anonymous. 4th STEP: This is the operational phase. The selected colleagues will receive an email invitation, through which they can fill out the questionnaire on the manager, when they have time, individually and on-line. All this in a strictly anonymous and confidential. The manager will fill in the questionnaire itself, thus giving himself a self-assessment. Automatically, once collected via the Internet all the answers, the system processes them and generates a report, which analyzes and summarizes the feedback that colleagues have given to the manager. This report is for the manager himself. 5th STEP: The managers receive the results of feedback. The results are collected in a feedback report. The final report is very clear and concise, it contains reports for each area and for each item presented the strengths and areas for improvement. The final report contains graphs, which allow the managers to compare directly the assessments made by each participant in the process. In this step the manager could receive help in reading and understanding the data, to have awareness of his/her self strengths and improvement and in order to get the right motivation to change from a coach. The major purpose of the coaching session was to make sure that the manager was aware of the what and why the results came out. So the coach, after the presentation of the quantitative results, asks the manager to summarize the knowledge gained. Together they emphasize the importance of understanding what can and what cannot be changed given the circumstances. Finally thanks to this help the manager can select an appropriate course of action, taking self

responsibility for

improvement and how to do it.

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7. The good side of 360° feedback Following are the main positive aspects and advantages that the method can bring out. Improved Feedback From More Sources: Provides well-rounded feedback from peers, reporting staff, coworkers, and supervisors. This can be a definite improvement over feedback from a single individual. It’s a great advantage since it helps people in discovering how they do their work and if there are eventual differences from his or her personal view. These feedback provides much information and the nature of that information is often much rich. Team Development: Helps team members learn to work more effectively together. (Teams know more about how team members are performing than their supervisor.) Personal and Organizational Performance Development: 360 degree feedback is one of the best methods for understanding personal and organizational developmental needs. Responsibility for Career Development: For many reasons, organizations are no longer responsible for developing the careers of their employees, if they ever were. Multirater feedback can provide excellent information to an individual about what he/she needs to do to enhance his/her career. Additionally, many employees feel 360 degree feedback is more accurate, more reflective of their performance, and more validating than prior feedback from the supervisor alone. This makes the information more useful for both career and personal development. Reduced Discrimination Risk: When feedback comes from a number of individuals in various job functions, discrimination because of race, age, gender, and so on, is reduced. Improved Customer Service: Especially in feedback processes that involve the internal or external customer, each person receives valuable feedback about the quality of his product or services. This feedback should enable the individual to improve the quality, reliability, promptness, and comprehensiveness of these products and services. Training Needs Assessment: 360 degree feedback provides comprehensive information about organization training needs and thus allows planning for classes, cross-functional responsibilities, and cross-training. Permit people being honest: with its anonymous character people feel themselves free in expressing their opinions and worries.

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A personal choice: if you want to know what other persons think of your work, with this method you can choose to whom make the questionnaire. So when you will receive the responds you easier will accept such results and will take them as a challenge and an improvement motivation. Progressive: once an organization begins using 360 feedback it should continue to do so over time to permit changes in performance maximizing the potential benefits of the ratings.

7. The bad side of 360° feedback Following are potential problems with 360 degree feedback processes. Exceptional Expectations for the Process: 360 degree feedback is not the same as a performance management system. It is merely a part of the feedback and development that a performance management system offers within an organization. The incorrect reason to do it: many companies implement 360°feedback programs because it is faddish to do so, because they feel pressure to imitate the practices of others, as a response to internal politics or to create an impression of openness and participation. Such programs often are designed and implemented without clear objectives and with no real plan for validating the instruments or for measuring programs effectiveness. Insufficient Information: Since 360 degree feedback processes are currently usually anonymous, people receiving feedback have no recourse if they want to further understand the feedback. They have no one to ask for clarification of unclear comments or more information about particular ratings and their basis. Lack of communications: It’s important communicate with both the people receiving feedback and the people getting feedback, telling them what, why, how and when about the process, in order to make them feel comfortable with the program. It’also important the support and encourage of the leaders. Rater Inexperience and Ineffectiveness: In addition to the insufficient training organizations provide both people receiving feedback and people providing feedback, there are numerous ways raters go wrong. They may inflate ratings to make an employee look good. They may deflate ratings to make an individual look bad. They may informally band together to make the system artificially inflate everyone’s performance. EBC Consulting - Feedback360 --

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The ignorance of the detainer: who is the feedback detainer? Nobody knows. People involved feel themselves worried because they don’t know who conserve their feedback. Ineffective assessment items: it’s necessary asking the right questions to receive good data, the assessment items need to be well written to gather the data wanted. In fact the thing measuring have to be important with the organization’s vision, mission and strategy. The wrong interpretation of the results: if the manager fails to do anything with the data, all people involved have waste their time and the purpose isn’t reach. For this reason it’ necessary the presence of a coach.

8. The influence of national culture in 360° feedback There are some indirect evidences that national culture may influence how performance feedback are given. This may suggest that the purposes for which feedback is used will also differ across national cultures. We chose two dimensions of Hofstede to highlight the difference of importance of feedback in the national cultures: The power of distance in workplace and individualism and collectivism. According to the first one, when power distance is large, supervisors and subordinates consider themselves unequal and subordinates are more dependent on their supervisors. In addition, employees are afraid to express disagreements with their supervisors and supervisors tend to have an autocratic or paternalistic management style. By contrast, small power distance is associated with more limited dependence of subordinates on their supervisors and the use of and preference for a consultative of a participatory style of management. In addition when power distance is small so too is emotional distance resulting in subordinates’ greater willingness to approach and contradict their supervisors. Studies noted that the history of multirater feedback is longer in North America, which includes relatively low power distance cultures such as the US, then elsewhere. Employees, who are less dependent on their supervisors, may expect and prefer to participate in the performance process. So 360°feedback is more effective in participative compared to authoritative environments. Instead the peer evaluation was virtually nonexistent in China, where there is a high power distance culture, in part because only leaders are seen sufficiently qualified to evaluate subordinates’ performance. According to the individualism and collectivism in the work place, in the first case emphasis is often placed on individualism, personal freedom of choice, and individual initiative in individualistic culture. By contrast, in a collectivist culture the interests of the EBC Consulting - Feedback360 --

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group prevail over the interests of the individual. It is important to reduce differences between members of the collective and to maintain group harmony. Individualism and collectivism may influence who provides performance feedback and from whom feedback is preferred. In fact for example Americans, who live in an individualistic culture, expect performance to improve if people receive direct feedback about their performance. By contrast Chinese workers, who live in a collectivistic culture, may be reluctant to evaluate their peers for fear of threatening the harmony of the group and interpersonal relationships with co-workers. The dimensions of power distance and individualism/collectivism may influence several aspects of the feedback process; which provide the feedback, the process or style used to deliver the feedback, the content and the purpose or aim of the feedback.

9. Conclusions Our work allow to understand that to make an effective 360° feedback is fundamental, before starting, implementing an active information and participation of all the parts involved. Everybody have to perceive it like a real need of the organization and not only a top decision. Above all when the method is applied in a collectivistic and high distance of power culture, the raters must know that it is anonymous and they have to be tranquillize in express themselves. Organizations that wish to convey rich feedback information to employees may choose to use 360° systems, but they should be aware of the potential issues and establish procedures to maximize the usefulness of the feedback provided, while minimizing the problems this system can cause. We think that to optimize the process is needed a coach, who can ensure the right interpretation of the final report. It’s wrong thinking that this final report is the end of the process, really it’s only the beginning of the turnover and of a continuous examination of own organization. The future perspectives are positive for 360° feedback: it’s expected that it will develop even in those countries where nowadays it is absent, for example Italy. Also the use of internet will help in diffusing it.

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Bibliography Nirenberg J. (2004): Leadership effectiveness. Encyclopedia of Leadership. SAGE Publications. Luthans, F., Peterson, SJ: (2003): 360-degree feedback with systematic coaching: Empirical analysis suggests a winning combination. Human Resource Management 42/3: 243-256. DeNisi, A.S. (2006): 360-degree Feedback. Encyclopedia of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. SAGE Publications. Fletcher, C., Perry, E.L. (2001): Performance Appraisal and Feedback: A Consideration of National Culture and a Review of Contemporary Research and Future Trends. Handbook of Industrial, Work & Organizational Psychology. Volume 1. SAGE Publications. Curtiss S. Peck: 360-degree feedback: how to avoid a disaster. Susan M. Heathfield guide to Human Resources of 360 degree feedback. Best practice Guidelines.

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