Strategic 360s

Making feedback matter

The Irony of 360 Feedback Processes

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I laughed out loud when I recently got this picture from an associate. Maybe you did too. So why is it funny?  I did a little research on why something is considered “funny,” and one reason that seems to fit is irony, i.e., the lack of harmony between what is expected and reality. (As an aside, I once encountered a senior executive who would ask new hire candidates whether he/she wanted to walk up to his office on the 2nd floor or take the elevator, and if they said elevator, he wouldn’t hire them. And, no, he didn’t want to hear why that might be a problem.)

In an earlier blog, I wrote about how different 360 processes might have differing goals/objectives, and how that is usually OK as long as the design and implementation was consistent with that purpose. This picture made me think again about how some 360 processes have this sense of irony, i.e., where expectations and reality collide.

Some examples of ironic 360 processes:

  • Expecting behavior change and having no accountability
  • Expecting action to happen (e.g., development) and having no accountability
  • Expecting managers to help participants develop and not giving them access to the feedback report
  • Expecting raters to participate and not following up with them (e.g., discussing results)
  • Expecting raters to give accurate feedback and trying to trick them with the survey (e.g., randomizing items)
  • Expecting organization change to occur and having only a few leaders participate
  • Expecting leaders to change and then not following through with subsequent feedback cycles
  • Calling a process “development only” and then making decisions based on the data

Actually I am not laughing, just shaking my head. I am developing a crick in my neck.

Got any other examples of irony??

©2010 David W. Bracken

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