By Claudia Leu on 11.10.2022 | 4 minutes reading time
Where does 360-degree feedback come from? What is the aim of 360-degree feedback? What is the added value and what distinguishes good 360-degree feedback? We will get to the bottom of these questions in this blog article.
Where does 360-degree feedback come from? Most people would immediately answer: from the USA. Where else? That's true, yet it's only part of the truth. For the first time in the 1970s, US companies used 360-degree feedback on a large scale. It then took its triumphal march around the business world.
However, some economists pinpoint the actual origin of 360-degree feedback to the so-called round-table discussion, which was introduced in the military sector in Germany in the late 1920s in order to select candidates to become officers. Back then, the assessment of comrades was considered a critical criterion for evaluating the suitability of candidates (Pelz, p. 256). Today, 360-degree feedback in companies is no longer about this; it's about recognising and developing the potential of managers.
Widely used, but does 360-degree feedback actually work?
The aim of 360-degree feedback is revealed by other terms — initially or currently — used in the USA: "upward appraisal" or "multi-source feedback". Therefore, 360-degree feedback is a method that has two main characteristics:
- It's about feedback about a leader/leadership ("upward").
- The feedback stems from the perspective of several groups: superiors, colleagues, customers, or business partners ("multi-source").
The people at the centre of 360-degree feedback learn how they, or their leadership qualities, are perceived by others. They are confronted with as many external perspectives as possible to compare self-perception and external perception to improve their self-knowledge (v. Kanitz, p. 100).
Added value with different perspectives
This brings considerable added value compared to the traditional discussion employees share with their direct superiors. After all, it's sometimes of little use to managers' development if superiors think their performance is outstanding, but the employees in the department see it quite differently (Engel, p. 131).
Managers want their employees to see their strengths. To achieve this, they work on their external image. They accomplish this with a constructive feedback culture, enabling them to familiarise themselves with the aspects on which they can work. Initially, this improves leadership and, consequently, it's better evaluated by the employees. In addition, they'll be more motivated if they're adequately managed. So, not only do managers do a better job, everyone in the company does. And this is the goal of 360-degree feedback.
What characterises good 360-degree feedback?
360-degree feedback is an excellent instrument to sustainably promote communication and cooperation in a company. This positively affects the company's overall development — if the methods are appropriate and in line with requirements.
What are the success factors of 360-degree feedback?
|Choosing the appropriate feedback instrument (questionnaire, software)||Ensuring feasibility|
|Enabling the exchange of feedbacks results||Promoting critical faculties and conflict management|
|Finding out why a person is good at what they do, and the skills they have that are useful to the company||Confirming one's contribution to the success of the company|
The traditional way to internally implement 360-degree feedback is the feedback questionnaire. Various questionnaire models can be used for this purpose. Moreover, not everything has to be filled out manually on paper. Numerous providers have feedback software that is a tool or an app.
Continuity as a success factor in feedback
360-degree feedback is the best way to deepen self-knowledge and foster growth. Software solutions are beneficial when you seek continuous and concrete feedback from colleagues: Peer Feedback. Here, the focus is on targeted and constructive feedback for and from everyone in the company. In other words, the focus isn't just on managers but on all competent forces — feedback from relevant people on relevant topics. The goal is an appreciative feedback culture from which everyone in the company benefits and grows together.
Peer Feedback from Pulse
This is achieved with Peer Feedback — Pulse's tool that creates a protected but transparent space for continuous constructive feedback. For example, there isn't any traditional management structure at Creaholic, the innovation factory that brings together bright minds to develop innovative products and technologies. However, this doesn't necessarily make performance management any easier.
Nevertheless, Creaholic developed the Peer Feedback-App in partnership with a customer to fully exploit the creative potential through effective performance management. This resulted in a sustainable promotion of its feedback culture.
Pelz, W. (2014): Das 360-Grad-Feedback zur Erkennung und Entwicklung von Potentialträgern. In: Sauer, J. / Cisik, A. (Hgg.): In Deutschland führen die Falschen. Wie sich Unternehmen ändern müssen. Berlin: Quadriga Media. Abgerufen von:
Heer, N. (2019): Gutes Feedback ist eine Frage von Führung. Interview ZEIT Online. Abgerufen von:
Schielke, M. (2019): Wir brauchen eine neue Feedbackkultur. Radiobeitrag Deutschlandfunk Kultur. Abgerufen von: https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/arbeitswelt-wir-brauchen-eine-neue-feedbackkultur-102.html
Herzog, J. (2020): So stärken Sie die Feedbackkultur in Ihrem Unternehmen. Abgerufen von: https://www.umantis.com/personalentwicklung/feedbackkultur?akttyp=direkt&aktnr=84834&wnr=04393689&utm_id=84834%2F04393689&utm_source=direkt
Engel, M. (2020): Besser Führen. Mit Haltung und Vertrauen zu Loyalität. München: UVK
Backovic, L. (2021): Bewertungsbögen für Führungskräfte: Diese drei Dinge helfen gegen versteckte Vorurteile. Abgerufen von: https://www.handelsblatt.com/karriere/homeoffice/feedback-bewertungsboegen-fuer-fuehrungskraefte-diese-drei-dinge-helfen-gegen-versteckte-vorurteile/27534780.html
Kanitz, A. (2022): Feedbackgespräche. Freiburg: Haufe
Slaghuis, B.: Hilfe, mein Feedback war mies. Abgerufen von: https://www.spiegel.de/karriere/schlechtes-feedback-bekommen-was-tun-tipps-vom-karrierecoach-a-31fd46c4-418e-4a35-9e4d-54d220df44d9