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Too often 360 feedback sessions are limited to simply assuring focal managers understand the basic information provided directly in the feedback report – overall ratings on competencies and tasks; rating differences across respondent groups; competencies/tasks most in need of development/rated lowest; etc.  Few feedback sessions attempt to identify the underlying behaviors that likely produced rating differences and gaps.  That is unfortunate, since those underlying behaviors have a dramatic effect on whether subsequent developmental activities will be valuable or meaningless.

Consider the following result for a focal manager, where 1 = Weak and 5 = Excellent:

TaskSelf RatingDirect Reports Rating
Provides team members with timely and meaningful performance feedback and coaching.42.8


Before meaningful discussion about development can occur, additional discussion is required to determine the underlying causes of the performance gap. For example, how often is feedback and coaching provided, when is it occurring, what is the manager’s concept of meaningful feedback, etc.?  Once causes are identified, then relevant and individualized developmental strategies can be determined.  Obviously development strategies should be significantly different for a manager who lacks a basic understanding of what constitutes effective feedback protocols versus a manager who has that understanding, but is reluctant to confront or redirect others.

The need and benefit of such added insight for development efforts is intuitive and should be commonplace; however, such feedback sessions are clearly not commonplace.  Reasons vary, but without question include the advanced level of resources required to facilitate such feedback sessions.  Feedback agents for more advanced feedback sessions must have advanced experience and skill sets – e.g., management experience, advanced knowledge of behavioral competencies and adult learn models, etc.  Unfortunately, such resources are seldom plentiful inside most organizations and, as a result, feedback sessions are limited to assuring focal managers understand the basic information provided directly in the feedback report.  In turn, developmental prescriptions are too often based on inadequate diagnoses and too few organizations realize the full potential of their 360 survey processes and developmental efforts.