How to Mess Up 360 Feedback

My last post about 360 feedback resulted in quite a few emails from people wanting to hear more about making feedback work. I have seen 360 feedback used the wrong way, and it sounds like you, dear reader, have seen the same! Before we go further in how 360 works – I think it’s important to look at when it doesn’t and learn from the mistakes companies make when investing in executive assessment.

So here are the top three things NOT to do:

1.) Conduct a 360 Without a Debrief

When participants in a 360 process get their results without someone to talk through them, they may construct a story that isn’t useful. Imagine “Francine” gets her feedback and obsessively reads through to guess who said what.
She spends days obsessing about how much she dislikes Brad who she guesses rated her badly. She starts avoiding Brad, and acting aloof and distant with her team. She doesn’t look back at the feedback to create a plan of action, and instead starts getting paranoid that she is being judged.

2.) Focus on Problems without Looking at Strengths

When you DO debrief the 360, focusing specifically on what’s wrong without looking at what’s right can sabotage the whole process. Of course, we naturally look for problems, so our coach or thinking partner needs to make sure that we also look for the best scores, the most positive evaluations, and when the executive is at their best.

3.) Forget the Action Plan

Finally, don’t just give people their results and debrief with no plan of action. A personal development plan should always follow a 360 assessment, and that development plan should take into account the strengths of that executive.

Watch out for more 360 information…my next blog entry will be about a breakthrough approach called the Reflected Best Self 360 process from University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.


About karlinsloan

Karlin Sloan has committed herself to finding out what makes great leaders tick, and to supporting leaders to be the change they wish to see in the world. As a corporate citizen she is an advocate for triple-bottom-line reporting, for creating sustainable ways of working and living, and for creating positive organizational communities that work together for the greater good. She is the author of the acclaimed business book Smarter, Faster, Better; Strategies for Effective, Enduring, and Fulfilled Leadership which has been translated into Thai and Russian, UNFEAR: Facing Change in an Era of Uncertainty, and co-author of the 2012 book Lemonade: The Leaders Guide to Resilience at Work. For more information see or
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