Organizational Consultation XXVIII: Multi-Source Assessment (360-Degree Feedback)

Organizational Consultation XXVIII: Multi-Source Assessment (360-Degree Feedback)

Though it is plagued with as many problems as the IFA model of performance appraisal, the multi-source method for appraising the performance of employees is currently receiving extensive attention in corporate life. By 1996, at least one quarter of the business organizations in the United States reported using a multi-source feedback process. Furthermore, “more than ninety percent of the Fortune 1000 companies [by 1996 used] some form of multi-source assessment system for at least developmental feedback.” The percentage has probably grown much larger. This enthusiasm is accompanied by an equally impressive controversy concerning the appropriate use and potential costs and benefits associated with this process. Often labeled 360-Degree feedback, multi-source assessment requires that several different people within (and sometimes outside) the organization assess an employee’s performance. Typically, the employee does a self-assessment, and this assessment is compared with assessments completed by other people who are familiar with this employee’s work.

An Expanded Perspective on Assessment

Multi-source assessment is about expanding the perspective of an employee regarding her own performance. It is also about broadening the base of an assessment and hopefully improving the validity of data gathered about an employee’s performance. This performance appraisal process begins with the self-assessment by the employee, along with the assessment by this employee’s supervisor. This is called 1-Degree feedback. Then the expansion begins. The most common types of expansion are up, down and sideways in the organization. The assessment by a colleague (sideways) is called 90-Degree feedback, while upward assessment by subordinates is labeled 180-Degree feedback.

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Bill BergquistAn international coach and consultant, professor in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 45 books, and president of a graduate school of psychology. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union.In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of Coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations. His graduate school, The Professional School of Psychology offers Master and Doctoral degrees in both clinical and organizational psychology to mature, accomplished adults.

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