This is the first podcast during which I found myself shaking my head in firm disagreement. For me, this one was a miss because you didn't go far enough in condemning the practice universally. You made room for "doing them right." 

I don't think they can be done right. I don't believe humanity capable of doing this exercise with integrity, because 360 reviews ignore the fundamental political truth of human existence. To respond to one with full disclosure is to be the politically naive court jester.

The 360 has become more of a management ritual than an actual tool that serves as an opportunity to expose the politically naive people in the company who are not fit for executive level work.

The naive play into it and reveal their inability to play the game. The wise tell lies to protect themselves from identification and retaliation and skew the results.

In the end, all you end up with is having paid money to receive false results.

I cannot imagine how you could ever hope to convince the politically astute and ambitious that their results are anonymous enough to have them answer truthfully.

I think you never really know how well you are doing with others. You can't pay someone to find out for you.

rgbiv99's picture

To US41's point, I wonder if people change their behavior based on 360 feedback or if they fall into the same category as exit interviews - i.e. ineffective. That wasn't discussed on the podcast. Has anyone changed their own behavior because of a 360 or have you seen someone else in your organization change?


US101's picture
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Yes, people change from the 360, but I've only seen it in a few cases. Check out Marshal Goldsmith's work for many more examples.

Marshal says a manager has not changed until the people around that manager say he/she has changed. Part of his 360 process is for the manager to follow-up with their co-workers every 3 months and say, "I told you I would change these behaviors, have you seen it?" Just the act of following up changing people's perception of the manager, even if the manager has not changed their behavior very much.

malekz's picture

The concept of 360 feedback falls under the category of "exit interviews" and "employee surveys." No one in the right mind should respond to them truthfully or at all.

I would have expected a more sophisticated treatment of REA concept from M&M as well. Trusting outside consultants, for example, to run training or anonymous surveys? You must be kidding!

Over twenty years ago I was asked by my employer to participate in a week-long project management training run by an outside consultant. As part of this training, we were asked to take the Myers Briggs Type Indicator test and self-score it. I remember at the end of the test, the consultant casually walked around, approached my desk , slightly bent over, and glanced at my final test result. Later on I found out  my psychological type information had been leaked to my boss! I think with this personal anecdote,I am responding at the same time to US41's assertion that :

"I think you never really know how well you are doing with others. You can't pay someone to find out for you."

You CAN pay someone to find out for you! Pay an outside consultant or surveyor to do it!

When it comes to 360 feedback, what is so disappointing to me is living in a culture that on the one hand asks us to tell the truth and on the other, punishes us for doing so!


MsSunshine's picture

To make a long and painful story short, my company did 360s, this personality profile and interviews before doing a huge re-org from a matrix management structure to a product line structure. 

I hounded my HR representative to see my 360 results.  I initially went through a lot of emotions about the comments.   :^(   I had had no management training at all but thought I was doing okay.  To be fair, it was 90% positive but I focused on the 10% negative.  (I totally agree with Mark's comment of focusing on what bad things people said because that was what I did.)  Fortunately, I had one friend who was an upper manager for another company who helped me get perspective.  I decided that it was up to me to find a way to do the job the way it should be done - whether or not I got training from the company.  That led me eventually to here - Manager Tools - and some other personal training initiatives.

I now try to pass on things from here to others.  I have other managers here about things I've changed and come ask me about it.  For example, I was the first manager here to do weekly one-on-ones and feedback model.  I actually got ridiculed by other managers for it....until I got great scores for things around feedback, coaching, ... in an employee engagement survey.

Would I have changed without it?  I don't have a crystal ball to tell me that.  But I know I did change a lot.  (I also know that 8 other managers paid no attention to theirs!)

mdave's picture

Wow... I will be discussing the results of a 360 review with a direct later this month.  Let me provide a little background. At this level, 360 reviews are voluntary and are marketed as a self assessment with the purpose of helping the employee identify both strengths and weaknesses -- which could then tie into devloping or modifying an employee development plan. This sort of thing is required at the exec level. It is encouraged among the mid-level ranks especially for aspiring upper managers. People are rated on a scale of 1 thru 5 on about 15 factors along with the dreaded written comments. The numeric ratings are broken up by direct, peer, supervisor/upchain, and self. This employee had done one a couple years ago when in a diferent job. The intent, at this level is that it is for the employee's use for their development and that it is anonymous. I have access to it because the employee shared it with me.  I offered to review it and, in fact, I encouraged she pursue the 360 since she had been in the position for several years and is interested in advancement.

Here is my delimna: My company does not provide any instructions or suggstions for how to interpret the data. I SHOULD have known this since I did one previously and was left to muddle with the results and my supervisor was as in the dark as I was.

The results were not surprising -- nor should they have been due to O3s. The catch is how to help the employee use the results. I was thinking about a couple things: 1) Looking for inconguities between where the employee rated herself and the other 3 groups did -- basically looking at the first rung of "know yourself, know your job, and know your people". 2) Looking for incongruities betwen how the different groups rated her. Some are logical (given the expectations and awareness of different org levels) and some may hint at other issues.3) Looking at how upper management evaluated her on the factors that are more exec in nature -- if this is where she wants to go then it would appear to be pretty relevant, 4) I'd like to do something with directs since as this person advances they will technically have more directs but this worries me a little bit., 5) I'm hesitatant to suggest she compare these rating to her previous one since the level and expectations of the two jobs are different.

Having listened to the cast, I can appreciate that I was a little naive about some aspects of this tool. But since I am  halfway into it, I'd like to salvage as much effectiveness as I can for the employee's benefit. Does anyone have any guidance or resources they could direct me toward? Thanks.

P.S. Ugh!!!!






RichRuh's picture
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Thanks for the well-timed podcast, guys. 

I recently conducted a survey with my team.  It wasn't a 360 review- what I asked instead were the famous "12 Questions" in First, Break All the Rules.  I made it as anonymous as possible by having a company admin collect the surveys and compile the results into a spreadsheet.  One thing I did do is add a 13th question, "Who is your manager?"  In cases where my managers had fewer than 6 directs, I lumped them together with another manager.  This reduced some of the value, while helping preserve anonymity.

What I did with the numbers was as follows:

1. Computed the department average for each question.

2. For each manager, told them if they did higher or lower than the department average for each question- I did not give them their score.

3. Gave positive feedback to the one manager who scored a perfect 5 on one of the questions

My plan going forward:

1. Meet with all of my directs as a group to discuss the results and formulate a plan to improve the numbers.

2. Set up a set of skip meetings to share the results with the rest of the department and get additional ideas

So far, what I've discovered:

1. If you're known as a complainer, and you answer a survey with all 1's, and then tell your boss (my direct) that you "said some things that needed to be said," you're not anonymous.  Nor are you liked, respected, or listened to, but that is another issue.

2. Mark is absolutely right about focusing on the negatives.  One of my directs went straight to the below average points and started asking about them.  That direct doesn't know the actual score, so cannot really figure out who said what.  I pointed out that below average doesn't mean bad, it just means below the average of the rest of the managers on the team.  Finally, I made it clear that there are other factors at work besides the manager-  for example, 2 groups of programmers do the same job, and use the same equipment, but answered "Do I have the right materials and equipment to do my work right?" differently.

3. And of course, I've learned more information about the strengths and weaknesses of my organization.

Anyone have any comments or suggestions for next time?  My plan is to repeat this process every 6 months and gauge progress (or lack thereof).