Multi Rater Systems & 360 Degree Feedback Our performance at work is influenced by our own level of expertise, experience, motivation, nature of the work, opportunities given by the organization and equally importantly by the social milieu in which we work. In order to grow and develop we recognize that feedback is essential so that we can improve our functioning along the lines that the organization desires. Very often this feedback is not available to us in a constructive manner. We also hesitate to ask for feedback for a variety of reasons. It could be because of a variety of reasons – one, we generally associate all feedback with negatives, two, we do not know whom to ask and trust and three, most importantly we fear that it will somehow disturb the “ideal image” that we have built of ourselves over the years. If any, the only ever time we may get any kind of a feedback of this nature is during the annual appraisals. Today, organizations use several methods of providing feedback. One of the methods organizations are using to help us correct our often incomplete perceptions of ourselves and how others see us is the multirater feedback, sometimes also known as the 360 degree feedback. Before we go into the process and mechanics of the multi-rater system it may be just of interest to see the origins of the whole process. The origins of multi-rater feedback or 360 degree feedback can be traced back, like most management practices, to military and wars. The US army was the first to introduce multirater feedback during World-War I while the Germans are credited for 360 degree feedback as they added subordinates to the feedback circle during the World War II. The first known adoption in a business organization was in the Esso Research and Engineering Company in 1950s. Multi-rater feedback systems are considered more objective because they capture the perspective from several different stakeholders therefore reducing the impact of perception bias. The multi-rater feedback can be used for meeting any of the following objectives – a. Leadership potential identification and development b. Performance reviews and appraisals c. Career Development and Succession Planning d. Drawing up Competency Development Plans for employees e. Team Building and Culture Development While 360 degree feedback and other forms of multi-rater feedback systems are growing in popularity, there are still several hitches making the ride far from smooth and sometimes even ineffective. The most common problems faced when implementing a 360 degree feedback process are - Firstly it is a time consuming process. Secondly due to the Hierarchical nature of organizations, there is hesitancy to give feedback to seniors and colleagues. Thirdly, there is anxiety associated with reports being linked to performance appraisals and the lack of follow up or action after the feedback reports have been generated. This brings us to the question, as to how is a 360 deg process rolled out. Often 360 degree feedback is not undertaken as the pen-paper exercise is elaborate, time consuming and extremely complex in terms of managing data and also because of confidentiality issues involved. The other alternative which has now emerged and often deployed is IT enabled multi rater feedback processes. Though there are number of
tools and packages that are available for commercial use for this purpose, they often do not provision for the following a) Wide range of questionnaires and databanks with competencies and elements from which the trainer/coach can choose and even customize to suit their specific requirements b) Context specific elements â€“ change leadership is vastly different from say, servant leadership and ability to map each of these requires a different set of questions. c) A easy to use interface which allows for grouping of individuals â€“ who are to rate a given person d) Easy to understand, yet comprehensive reports which can be customized based on need â€“ a training program need is different from that for PMS or that for a coaching session e) Last but not the least, a good indicative development road map, which will enable the individual to develop A 360 degree feedback tool packaged along the above lines, would be an attractive proposition for a trainer/coach and organizations and used strategically can reap rich dividends for employees and in the long run the organizations too.
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