Picking those who will receive 360 feedback isn’t complicated, but it is important. Giving 360 feedback to the right people ensures behavioral development; giving 360 feedback to the wrong people – or the right people at the wrong time – is a waste of time and money.
- The “target” of a 360-degree assessment is simply the person who can benefit from 360 feedback. This person completes an assessment, thus providing self-feedback.
- Other people (known as raters) assess the target from their perspectives. Imagine the raters – managers, peers, customers, clients — forming a circle around the target and firing away with frank feedback.
That’s 360 feedback. So who needs 360 feedback? Generally, anyone who needs to develop as a leader or manager. The key word is “develop.” You should use 360 feedback to develop people, not to evaluate them. The reasoning is simple: 360 feedback loses its credibility if the results are tied to promotions or consequences. 360 feedback promotes self-evaluation by the target and encourages others to provide constructive suggestions that can help the target improve. But 360 feedback doesn’t work well when, for instance, it’s used to determine if the target will get a raise. You wouldn’t use 360 feedback to determine raises because people will be less open to the process. It puts inappropriate pressure and weight on the 360 feedback. It also makes it less likely that the target will rate himself/herself honestly.