The struggle with feedback

Nino Chalati
Mar 14, 2024
Table of contents
  • 360 Degree Feedback
  • The challenges
  • So what?

A strong feedback culture is a good indicator for a healthy company culture. In this article we dive a bit deeper into the 360 degree feedback approach, it's challenges and what to do with it.

A strong feedback culture is a good indicator for a healthy company culture. Being able to give and receive feedback - even or better said especially constructive one - is a key skill for every employee.

Especially for leaders it is undeniably important not only to be a good sender but also receiver of feedback in order to work upon it and improve their behavior and approach. Ultimately, leader should be the one’s acting as role models and create an environment where people are encouraged and feel motivated to give feedback.

Even though, many companies are shifting or have already shifted their mindset and are doing numerous feedback workshops and motivate their employees to share feedback, in this blog post we want to shed some light on the 360 degree feedback. Moreover, we want to present another approach to a healthy feedback culture.

360 Degree Feedback

The 360 degree feedback approach basically describes the methodology of collecting feedback about oneself from different perspectives. These perspectives can cover spectrum from their managers over to colleagues and peers over to customers to get the full view (360 degree) about one’s performance.

To analyze trends and areas of strengths and weaknesses, these feedbacks are typically collected over a certain period of time - e.g. in 6 months intervals - and afterwards reviewed with one’s direct reports/managers. These reviews of the 360 degree feedback rounds are often used as a basis for performance assessments for promotions. The idea behind the 360 degree feedback is to have the most objective and diverse feedback as possible.

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The challenges

First and foremost, it is more important to put the effort on enabling people to give and receive feedback. It’s a matter of the right company culture and mindset. Transparency and willingness to improve are things that the leadership should live and be role models in. Otherwise, the rest of the employees will not feel encouraged to give open feedback as well.

Moreover, as it is often tightly woven into the promotional system and salaries, many step back from really giving open feedback as they fear the impact on their careers.

Everyone has their own personality and personal history. We are all deeply influenced by how we grew up. Implementing and starting off an open feedback culture from one day to the other is almost impossible, as there will always be people among us that are not used to give and receive feedback that is afterwards reviewed with their managers and used as a basis for promotions. The challenge explained above will always remain and some people will always avoid giving open feedback, especially to their managers, because of the fear on the impact on their career.

Furthermore, the 360 degree feedback is very time-consuming and reality shows that after a first enthusiasm, people - both team members and managers - are using walk-arounds and do everything to reduce the intensity of the processes. Most feedback tools are too complex and require writing a lot in order to be useful. This added work results in pressure and reduced satisfaction with the formal feedback approach - even though it is asynchronous.

So what?

Our market research shows that many companies are applying the 360 degree feedback system, but mostly lean on tools that are not appropriate for their actual needs and too hierarchical in their approach.

In fact, the way how 360 degree feedback processes are implemented, mostly just represent what was in place before and only give the still maintained hierarchical and top-down culture an “agile” touch.

Even though the basic idea of this feedback system is positive and intended to improve prevailing structures, most tools do not offer capabilities for a true mindset shift.

We believe that feedback is not only there to track personal development and link the outcomes of the reviews to promotions and salary adjustments. In the ende, it really comes down to improving oneself and to grow together.

Promotions and salary increases can still be results of the reviews but should not stay in the focus of the entire approach.

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