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

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

These data can also help an employee better prepare for and fully understand the nature of the organizational and systemic challenges he is facing. Employees who receive a Tier Three assessment can more fully appreciate those forces operating in their organizational setting that enhance their competencies and those forces that are de-skilling and de-motivating. 360-Degree feedback leads directly to the development strategy (which I have identified in a previous set of essays) when this Tier Three process is engaged.

The employee is usually provided with ample information regarding the way in which their colleagues rate their performance, once the rating scales are completed and compiled. There are often twenty to thirty categories. Data are typically presented in graphic and statistical form with frequencies, means and standard deviations being offered. The employee’s own ratings are usually juxtaposed with ratings from the other feedback sources. Sometimes, the ratings are compared with ratings given to other employees in the organization. The ratings for an employee might even be compared to national norms if the feedback instrument was purchased from a major vendor.

Whether a Two Tier or Three Tier system is engaged, the major challenge is one of managing the complexity of data that need to be analyzed. This complexity confronts both those who are administrating this system and those who are recipients of this feedback—as noted by Tornow and London:

Clearly, this is no small task. It requires a good deal of cognitive complexity, in addition to affective acknowledgement of the validity and legitimacy of the feedback. It also requires balancing multiple and perhaps conflicting perspectives, as well as balancing a sense of self with the larger context and role requirements.

Clearly, Tornow and London have identified an important drawback to many 360-Degree processes. The reports that are prepared often produce information overload, and may produce a sense of despair, perhaps because multi-source feedback is usually accompanied by very few follow-up services. The employee receives an impressive, highly creditable report filled with colorful charts and graphs. She is told how to make sense of these graphs and numbers—and is then left alone to navigate through the stormy sea this type of report can stir up.

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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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