This attempt to update the traditional employee appraisal process is one of the fashionable techniques of the mid 1990s, fitting in with other newish tools called team management, employee empowerment and total quality management. 360-degree feedback, as the term implies, brings together formal appraisals from everybody that the person being assessed comes into contact with — line managers, subordinates, colleagues, peers, and even outsiders such as clients. Another name for it is multi-source feedback and a variant is upward feedback, in which subordinates appraise their supervisor’s performance. Though it is frequently intimidating or dispiriting for the person concerned, some studies indicate that such feedback can be helpful in changing behaviour and improving performance. However, others suggest that the technique shows little or no improvement over more traditional methods and has the disadvantage that results need skilled interpretation.
They say 360-degree feedback should be regarded as an organisational process rather than a mechanical tool.
Independent on Sunday, Sept 1996