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Consultant Proficiency Resources: Limitations of 360 Feedback

The Art of Communication series continues with feedback, more specifically 360-degree feedback. Last week CPR post included the definition and benefits. Today's post will summarize some of the limitations of a 360 feedback. As a reminder, 360 feedback is a method of employee review that provides the opportunity to receive performance feedback from their supervisor to peers. 360-degree feedback allows each individual to understand how his/her work are viewed by others they interact with. Fundamentally, 360-degree feedback is based on behaviors that other employees can see and neither their skill nor mind-set.

According to the Balance 2022 online article, there are limitations of 360 feedback. Below are some examples: Exceptional expectations for the process: 360-degree feedback is not the same as a performance management system. It is merely a part of the feedback and development that a performance management system offers within an organization. Additionally, proponents of the system may lead participants to expect too much from this feedback system in their efforts to obtain organizational support for its implementation. Make sure that the 360 feedback is integrated into a complete performance management system and not used as a stand-alone venture.

Design process downfalls: Often, a 360-degree feedback process arrives as a recommendation from the HR department or is shepherded in by a senior leader who learned about the process at a seminar or in a book. Just as an organization implements any planned change, the implementation of360-degree feedback should follow effective change management guidelines. A cross-section of the people who will have to live with and utilize the process should explore and develop the process for your organization.

Failure to connect the process: For a 360 feedback process to work, it must be connected with the overall strategic aims of your organization. If you have identified competencies or have comprehensive job descriptions, give people feedback on their performance of the expected competencies and job duties. The system will fail if it is an add-on rather than a supporter of your organization’s fundamental direction and requirements. It must function as a measure of the accomplishment of your organization’s big and long-term picture.

Insufficient information: Since 360-degree feedback processes are currently usually anonymous, people receiving feedback have no recourse if they want to further understand the feedback. They have no one to ask for clarification about unclear comments or for more information about particular ratings and their basis. Thus, developing 360 process coaches is important. Supervisors, HR staff people, interested managers, and others are taught to assist people to understand their feedback and trained to help people develop action plans based on the feedback.

Focus on negatives and weaknesses: At least one book, "First Break All the Rules: What The World's Greatest Managers Do Differently," advises that great managers focus on employee strengths, not weaknesses. The authors said, "People don't change that much. Don't waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough."2 These are apt words when you consider a 360-degree feedback methodology. Focus on strengths for best success.

Rater inexperience and ineffectiveness: In addition to the insufficient training organizations provide both people receiving feedback and people providing feedback, there are numerous ways raters go wrong. They may inflate ratings to make an employee look good. They may deflate ratings to make an individual look bad. They may informally band together to make the system artificially inflate everyone’s performance. Checks and balances must exist to prevent these pitfalls as well as training for the people who are providing the ratings.

Overload on paperwork and data entry: In traditional 360 evaluations, multi-rater feedback upped the sheer number of people participating in the process and the subsequent time invested. Fortunately, most multi-rater feedback systems now have online entry and reporting systems. This has almost eliminated this former downside.

Additional limitations include:

Employee performance objectives: Your manager or supervisor often sets these, and they're typically too specific for a 360-feedback survey.

Technical skills and competencies: While you can assess soft skills with this method, technical skills are much less subjective. To assess your technical skills, you'd benefit from the input of an experienced professional who's familiar with them, rather than the general opinion at the office.

Basic job requirements: Your employer often stipulates these in your employment contract and are usually very clear and easy to understand. Like your employee performance objectives, your supervisor typically assesses these based on the completion of particular tasks daily.

Performance metrics: 360 feedback is typically subjective so it cannot assess performance based on quantifiable metrics, such as attendance, meeting quotas or abiding by deadlines.

In the 21st century, the benefits of applying 360 withing your organization is a testament to your leadership skills. When 360 feedback is applied effectively and employees are informed, the results can make a notable difference within the organization. If you have tried 360

feedback, be sure to share your thoughts.

Warm Regards,


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