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360 Multi-Rater Effectiveness

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Introduction

Management has always been an evolving subject area. It has always been influenced by the determinants that lie both within as well as outside the organization. Given this particular characteristic feature of management, managers have always had to give in to what takes place both inside as well as outside their firms and also give considerable importance to what lies beyond their purview of management. Again, among the factors that influence managers and their styles of functioning as well as management as a whole would definitely include human factors. The evolution of the human resource from merely being personnel who are required to do their designated jobs to the most recent human capital tells of the real life corporate story of how the importance of human beings have only increased over the years. Thus, firms have come to realize the relative importance of human beings in achieving their goals and thus various ways of tackling human problems have also evolved alongside. Moreover, managing human resources is one of the foremost challenges that managers face across the sectors and that too across the continents.

Given the importance the function of human resource management holds in the organizational context today, researchers in the field of management have come up with various ways to deal with the human issues within the organization. Among these models or managerial frameworks available, various models apply to various systems and thus have different objectives. Since these models serve different purposes, they are used under varying situations.

Again, most of these models help managers in better understanding the performance of employees and also the points of views of the employees themselves. In this regard, one model that definitely should find mention is the 360 degree feedback model. This particular approach is one of the most popular frameworks available to managers and has already become popular all over the world. Given the holistic framework this particular model offers to effectively mapping employee performance in addition to also including the perception of the employee about his or her performance, the 360 degree feedback model indeed looks promising from all points of views.

The model is one that is feedback based and takes into account not only the seniors who supervise the performance of the concerned employee but also the peers and even outsiders who are concerned with the performance of the employee apart from the employee himself or herself.

Again, apart from the apparent fracas the model has created among the various quarters of the corporate sector across the world, there is also apprehension regarding the level of effectiveness that this particular model is actually helping the human resource professionals are being able to attain. Moreover, it is yet to be seen whether the actual level of expertise of the 360 degree feedback model meets the expectation of the HR professionals as well as academicians all over the world who almost vouch for the impression that this particular performance evaluation feedback model is the best as well as the most popular one in the industry.

Thus it becomes clear at the very outset of the study that the 360 degree feedback model, though a much hyped one, may not always lead to the desired results for which it is normally applied. Also in addition to that, it may as well be said even before delving deep into what the leading researchers as well as academicians have said about the effective ways of using this particular model that firms should be cautious as to what shape the feedback provided to employees result in.

In this regard, it may also be noted that the 360 degree feedback model is one of those that have been under scrutiny for various reasons. Not just the effectiveness but also the problems associated with this particular model has been tried to be found out. Various researchers have come up with their hypotheses as well as volumes of research on this particular issue.

As mentioned above, the present study not only entails the 360 feedback approach but also other aspects as well. Since the study focuses on the issues that 360 degree feedback model may have or for that matter the inherent problems or gaps or even the critical areas that need to be taken care of, so as to make the use of the particular model truly effective, the study also focuses on the concept of the ideal as well as the authentic self.

The concepts of the ideal as well as the authentic selves have stemmed from the fact that any person for that matter has these two selves wherein the ideal self is what he or she should ideally be or even what he or she aspires to become, and the authentic self refers to what he or she actually is.

From the point of view of the 360 degree feedback model, these two concepts turn out to be not only important but also interlinked given that the model under consideration is based on the feedback being provided to the concerned employees. Thus, once the feedback is delivered to the concerned employees, they may or may not agree with the feedback so provided.

What is even more important in this regard is the fact that the feedback can actually not match with the concepts of the ideal as well as the authentic selves held by either the personnel under consideration themselves or for that matter what others think of these personnel concerned. The ideal self may also vary as per the definition of the personnel who has been designated the particular position or even the definition of the others who are involved in providing the concerned HR department with the feedback regarding what the ideal person in that particular capacity should be.

Thus it once again becomes clear that academicians, researchers as well as practitioners should take up this issue and find a feasible solution in this regard so that the otherwise perfectly good as well as seemingly effective model of 360 degree feedback does not fail to live up to the expectations of its users.

Given the basic concepts that the study entails, it then becomes apparent that the present study intends to take together the two seemingly disparate concepts of 360 degree feedback model and that of the ideal and authentic selves in order to make sure that the way 360 degree feedback model is used in organizations makes sense so as to deliver constructive feedbacks to the employees who are appraised as well as ones that are acceptable on both sides – the employers as well as the employees.

These apart, there are several other models of human resource management as well as organizational behavior that have become important in analyzing what prevents employees from performing to the best of their performances. If the 360 degree feedback model is concerned with multi rater feedback systems, and the ideal as well as authentic selves are concerned with the perceptions of what one ideally intends to be and what he or she actually is, then the model introduced by Kegan and Lahey (2009) also becomes important in informing the research fraternity as to what or for that matter why does an employee not perform to the best of his or her abilities though he or she intends to perform or even in some cases tries to the best of his or her abilities.

In order to gauge these varying perspectives better as well as in order to comprehend whether the 360 degree feedback model is actually effective or for that matter in order to make an estimate of whether or under what circumstance does the 360 feedback model work best or is likely to give the best output is what the present study is concerned about. Thus, in order to achieve these objectives, the research aims and objectives as well as research questions of the study are as follows:

Research Aims and Objectives

  • To map the effectiveness of the 360 degree model via critically analyzing the concepts of the ideal self and the authentic self while also taking cues from the Kegan and Lahey model (2009)

Research Questions

  1. Is the 360 degree feedback model truly effective?
  2. Are the practitioners of this model competent enough to use this model effectively?
  3. What is the degree of effectiveness of the feedback achieved by using the model?
  4. Is the 360 degree feedback model used as a stand-alone model or in conjunction with other managerial frameworks?
  5. Can the 360 degree feedback model be made more effective by including the concepts of the ideal and the authentic selves?
  6. What may be done to optimize the effectiveness of this particular model?
  7. What are the reasons due to which employees are not able to perform to their desired levels and meet their ideal selves in spite of the best of their intentions to do so?

Literature Review

Performance Appraisal refers to the periodic, formal evaluation of employee performance for the purpose of making career decisions (Randhawa, 2007). Furthermore, it is a structured system of mapping as well as evaluating an employee’s job related behaviours and outcomes in order to discover how and why the employee is presently performing on the job and as well as how the employee can perform more effectively in future so that the employee, the organization as well as the society all benefit from the same (Randhawa, 2007). Kets de Vries et. al. (1981) has been of the opinion that performance appraisal refers to a process that allows a firm to measure and evaluate an employee’s behavior as well as accomplishments over a specific period of time. Weise and Buckley (1998) further state that firms have had such systems for centuries but without having in place any formal arrangement as is in the case of proper performance appraisal systems in firms these days. CIPD (2011) refers to performance appraisal as the occasion for individual staff and line managers to hold in a dialogue regarding each employee’s performance and development and also the support required from the manager to further develop the same. On the other hand, Bratton and Gold (2007) also defines performance appraisal as the feedback which serves as a means of identifying training needs for individual employees. Thus the entire process helps to come up with a possibility of improving performance and provides with the opportunity for dialogue between managers and other workers, following which there is a likelihood of mutual understanding of developmental needs and other objectives. Again, Pilbeam and Corbridge (2006) has been of the opinion that performance appraisal is the evaluation of the performance of an employee in view of a set of objectives in addition to being a method of assessment  for improving performance for the benefit of the organisation.

On the other hand, 360 degree feedback is defined as the systematic collection as well as feedback of performance data on an individual or group derived from a number of the stakeholder in the performance (Ward, 1997). Ward (1997) further notes that this particular technique of appraising employees takes into consideration in detail the behavior as well as competencies exhibited by employees or group of employees in the attainment of organizational goals.

Facteau et.al (1998) have explained the concept of the 360 degree feedback as a process that takes into consideration the feedback from “peers, subordinates, self, supervisors, higher level managers, or customers”. So the holistic concept of 360 degree feedback mechanism has indeed caught the fancy of management practitioners all over the world and has thus turned out as one of the foremost techniques used for performance appraisal.

Edwards and Ewen (1996) have noted that the effectiveness of the 360 degree feedback system lies in its taking information from the entire source of knowledge available wherein each rater provides relevant but different information. The authors have opined that this approach to assessing the performance of employees increase the credibility of the ratings, increases the chances of self development of the employee, apart from enhancing the accountability among both the internal as well as external customers of the employee.

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