The Art and Science of 360 Degree Feedback

360-degree feedback, also known as multi-rater feedback or multi-source feedback, is a method of gathering performance evaluations about an individual from a variety of sources. Those sources include peers, direct reports, supervisors, and sometimes people outside the organization. The art and science of 360-degree feedback refers to the combination of human judgment (the “art”) and objective, systematic methods (the “science”) in creating, implementing, and interpreting these evaluations.

The “Science”

  1. Measurement: The science part involves determining what competencies are important to measure. Questionnaires must effectively measure these competencies through clear and meaningful questions.
  2. Reliability and Validity: The scientific aspect also involves ensuring that the process is reliable (the feedback is consistent) and valid (it measures what it’s intended to measure).
  3. Statistics and Data Analysis: The feedback data is often substantial and complex. It requires proven statistical methods for interpretation and presentation.

The “Art”

  1. Communication: Explaining the purpose, process, and benefits of 360-degree feedback to participants and encouraging their buy-in is an art.
  2. Interpretation: While data analysis can provide a lot of insights, interpreting the results in the context of the individual’s role, the team dynamics, and the organization’s culture is more of an art.
  3. Feedback Delivery: This is often where the “art” is most needed. Feedback needs to be delivered in a way that is constructive and respectful. The person delivering the feedback needs to have strong interpersonal skills to manage reactions and minimize defensiveness.
  4. Action Planning and Follow-up: The end goal of 360-degree feedback is improvement. Feedback recipients will often create a development plan that includes action steps  that leads to growth.

In summary, the art and science of 360-degree feedback involves a blend of sound, evidence-based practices (the science) and skilled, sensitive human interaction (the art). It’s about not only gathering and analyzing data but also about inspiring individuals to improve and grow. G360 Surveys can help you get the most out of this powerful tool.