Why are you still using 360s?

Most organizations have thorough performance management processes. However, you’d be surprised to learn that very few achieve the desired results. According to research in 2019 by Integral and the Human Resource Research Institute, approximately 90% of companies utilize performance management processes. Only 30% of these companies claim that these systems are effective and help them obtain their organizational goals. What’s more, the number of companies that believe PM systems improved their employee engagement and performance is even lower. 

Providing leaders adequate feedback to encourage self-awareness matters a lot. Why? Because it is a critical component to help teams learn and grow. Unfortunately, most human resource executives face a great deal of difficulty when it comes to evaluating their teams adequately, with good data. 

A Brief Look at 360-Degree Feedback

Also referred to as multi-rater feedback and multi-source feedback, organizations have been using 360 feedback since the 1950s. This tool became highly popular during the 1990s, as most organizations used it to evaluate their employees. 360 degree feedback provides employees evaluations from their managers, HR, peers, direct reports.

In theory, a performance management tool like 360 degree feedback should provide an informative and well rounded review. 

However, many companies and learning experts have been questioning the 360s efficacy for several years. They believe this system has massive flaws and that it doesn’t contribute towards the growth of their employees, especially in the long run. 

Why 360 Systems Fall Short

Management trends come and go as not all of them stand the test of time. People hyped the 360 degree feedback system to the moon, especially during its primitive days. However as time passed, the system’s drawbacks became clearer and organizations began to realize that 360 feedback did not provide truly actionable insights. Let us look at some critical reasons why companies should consider ditching 360 processes to improve their feedback and evaluation systems.

Uncertainty and Anonymity

360 systems are quite vague as you never know who is providing the feedback. Uncertainty like this can be quite detrimental as it tends to create animosity and pits employees against their peers. While anonymity may seem like a good idea at first, some employees could target coworkers they don’t like by leaving unhelpful comments. 

Having anonymity also means that employees cannot respond to any feedback that is unhelpful or unfair. They cannot ask for clarification, which makes it hard for them to make meaningful improvements. 

An Overwhelming Amount of Unreliable Data

Since 360 degree feedback collects data from a large number of people, you’d think that information will be reliable and help employees improve. Unfortunately, that is not the case. A well-reputed article from Harvard Business Review suggests that data obtained from 360 surveys is rarely reliable. It even suggests that the 360 evaluation system is a massive waste of time as it damages the individual and the organization he or she is working for.  

You’d be surprised to learn that the United States military criticized the 360 degree feedback system because of its lack of validity or reliability. In most cases the individuals who know their peers for more than a year provide reasonably accurate reviews. However, the reviews for newer employees are generally inaccurate as people often tend to generalize their evaluations, either unfavorably or favorably.

The Process Is Incredibly Time Consuming

Every well-functioning organization values time. It is a significant reason why more and more companies are ditching 360 degree feedback systems. The process requires a great deal of time. Managers require one to three weeks to explain how this process works and how they will gather and use the feedback. However, that’s not it; they need an extra couple of weeks to choose the raters.

Furthermore, distributing the surveys could take one week, and finishing the questionnaires often takes two to four weeks. Producing the reports could take one or two days, followed by hour long feedback meetings (per participant). Finally, the HRs and managers work on a development plan, which requires an extra week or two.

It would be fair to say that the entire 360 process could take more than a month, which is far from feasible, especially considering the amount of man hours spent for a single process. 

360 Systems Often Disregard an Individual’s or Team’s Strength

Managers should consider focusing on their team’s positives instead of over-emphasizing their negatives. Positive feedback is a great way to improve productivity levels and overall performance. 360 feedback mostly focuses on the negative by disregarding an employee’s strengths.

The intent behind highlighting the negatives is good, but an onslaught of negative remarks is not an ideal way to encourage and motivate employees. They might feel vulnerable, which could lead to poor performances. 

Too Much Ambiguity

The last thing any supervisor or HR manager wants is providing teams with ambiguous evaluations and feedback. Unfortunately, that is precisely what you get when using a 360 degrees evaluation system. Since this feedback procedure relies on ratings, people often get confused. For instance, quantifying ratings like 2.5 or 3.5 can be very hard as people do not know the amount of improvement they need to reach optimum performance levels. 

360 Feedback Systems Rarely Improve Performances

As mentioned, 360 feedback systems struggle with inaccurate data and objectivity. There is little to no evidence to suggest that these reviews can improve an organization’s performance. If anything, this feedback system could decrease a company’s market value by 10.6% (according to the renowned book, The Human Capital Edge).

So, it would be fair to say that 360 evaluations do not increase retention or improve productivity, which are good enough reasons to ditch this system for good. 

Final Thoughts

With an overwhelming amount of drawbacks, implementing a 360 degree feedback system is far from favorable. Besides the disadvantages mentioned above, this system has tons of other cons, such as lack of regularity, the rater or reviewer’s competency, lack of agency etc. It would be best to do away with this system and replace it with viable alternatives, ensuring the organization’s teams perform to the best of their abilities.

Try the Backfeed+ app with your team today, and experience how easy it is to build a tribe and foster a culture of communication. Go beyond out-dated 360 employee reviews. Start with the Backfeed+ app and provide helpful feedback for your employees.

Schedule a demo and you’ll get two months of premium features for your whole team completely free.

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