360 feedback is good, but not enough for change

The 360 feedback is system is good, but not enough for change.

Number 1: The purpose of feedback is to give people clarity around what they need to improve. I’ve worked with thousands of smart executives regarding their 360 results and they really don’t know

·        what to do with it.

·        they don’t know what to do next.

·        That’s because the 360 feedback tends to be a bit general, such as you need to be more collaborative. But what does that mean? It’s not so clear. Be more collaborative can mean many things. And if its not so clear, there will be no action taken, improvement made.

I'm not saying the 360 feedback is bad. It’s good for another data point. But for real change, it needs to be complemented with “live” feedback interviewing.


Number 2: In this sensitive politically correct culture, people tend to not give clear, honest feedback. When they’re filling out the 360 form, they’re trying to be nice or political.

Being nice and not truthful, will lead to a lack of precision on what we need to change.

Research and experience shows that our best people, our performers want the truth. That’s why going beyond the 360 to gather accurate, precise feedback is so important.

If you don’t know the truth, the feedback is not so valuable.

Therefore, the objective is to be clear and accurate, not nice.


Number 3: How to effectively do “live” feedback collection to complement the 360?

·        All recipients of the feedback I’ve worked with all realize that it’s important to get what their key stakeholders really think, good and especially bad. The worst situation to be in is thinking an important stakeholder has positive view when in fact they do not. That’s dangerous.

·        Select the feedback interviewer who is perceived by the recipient as one who is unbiased and apolitical. This is why many organizations choose an outside executive coach, who knows how to drill down for more clarity to do the feedback interviews.

·        Involve the recipient by asking them to put together a list of key stakeholders for the interviewer. People from whom they need to know what they really think.

·        Ask the recipients what they would like to know. I usually start off with what are their strengths they should continue to leverage and the key development needs. But it can be slightly expanded for other things they would like to know. For example, what are the stakeholder’s expectations.

·        Ask the interviewer to drill down to clarify the feedback into clear, observable behaviors. For example, what behaviors of the recipient do they like and don’t like. What do they want them to do more and/ or less of. The more precise, the better. This allows for better action.


Using both a 360 and live feedback approach improves the probability of real improvement.

Take action, make a difference.