360 degree feedback is also known as multi-rater feedback or multi-dimensional feedback or multi-source feedback. It is a very good means of improving an individuals effectiveness (as a leader and as a manager). It is a system by which an individual gets a comprehensive/collective feedback from his superiors, subordinates, peers/co-workers, customers and various other members with whom he interacts.
The feedback form is in a questionnaire format, which contains questions that are significant to both individual as well as organization from performance aspect. It is filled by anonymous people. The number of people from whom feedback is taken can range from 6 - 20. The individuals own feedback is also taken, i.e., he self-rates himself and then his rating is compared with other individuals ratings. Self ratings compel the individual to sit down and think about his own strengths and weaknesses.
The primary aim of a 360 degree feedback is to assist an individual to identify his strengths and build upon them, to recognize priority fields of improvement, to encourage communication and peoples participation at all levels in an organization, to examine the acceptance of any change by the employees in an organization and to promote self-development in an individual. It must be noted that the assessment of individual by other people is subjective.
A 360-degree feedback is challenging, promoting and analytical. It should not be regarded as ultimate and concluding. It is a beginning point. Self-assessment is an ongoing process.
360 degree feedback provides a comprehensive view of the skills and competencies of the individual as a manager or as a leader. The individual gets a feedback on how other people perceive and assess him as an employee. 360 degree feedback is beneficial to both an individual as well as organization. It leads to pooling of information between individual and other organizational members. It encourages teamwork as there is full involvement of all the top managers and other individuals in the organization. It stresses upon internal customer satisfaction. It develops an environment of continuous learning in an organization. Based on a 360 degree feedback, the individual goals and the group goals can be correlated to the organizational strategy, i.e., the individual and the group can synchronize their goals with the organizational goals.
The feedback must be confidential so as to ensure its reliability and legitimacy. The feedback must be accepted with positivity and an open-mind. The effectiveness of the feedback must be evaluated and analyzed on a regular basis.
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