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

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

There is a third tier that is rarely addressed in a 360-Degree feedback process. This third tier concerns assessment of the context or culture in which the employee operates and in which the ratings are being solicited. Much as a fish can’t tell you much about the water in which she swims, so an employee and her colleagues can rarely tell you much about the setting in which they work. This setting, however, has an impact on their performance and their perceptions of one another. While many 360-Degree advocates suggest that multi-source feedback can influence organizational culture, most fail to recognize that influence can also flow in the opposite direction: organizational culture can influence the ratings being given to individual employees engaged in a 360-Degree feedback process.

Multiple Roles and Multiple Perspectives

The role taken by organizational culture in the lives and performance of contemporary employees is actually growing even larger, given the current shift in job structures and responsibilities. As Tornow, London and their associates at the Center for Creative Leadership have recently noted:

. . . “jobs” and “positions” are giving way to “assignments” as the basic unit of work. . . Different assignments will, of course, have different constituencies, whose performance expectations and feedback will define success according to their particular needs. Consequently, organizations need more flexible and dynamics systems for communicating performance expectations and feedback. By design, 360-Degree feedback systems, with their multiple assignments, roles, and constituencies, are better in tune with the new realities of work.

I agree that Tier Two assessments help to address the challenges associated with these multiple roles and assignments. However, I also believe that Tier Three assessments are just as important, given that fluid job assignments require an adjustment to new constituencies and colleagues, and an adjustment to new work conditions and organizational subcultures. Data about these conditions and cultural characteristics can help an employee more fully appreciate the frame of reference being used by those doing a Tier Two assessment.

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About the Author

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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