Future of 360 Degree Feedback: New Study Finds Increased HR Influence

A new study from 3D Group finds Human Resources professionals are using 360 degree feedback to have more influence on talent management and development decisions such as succession planning, identifying training needs, and high potential identification. While a highly controversial practice, nearly half of companies report using 360s in some portion of their performance management process.

Jan 15, 2013, 10:45 ET from 3D Group

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- One of the most fiercely debated aspects of 360 degree feedback is the use of feedback results for human resource decision making and planning. A new study published by Northern California based consulting firm 3D Group has many 360 degree feedback experts deliberating about the gap between common practices and best practices. The study, released to the public today, Current Practices in 360 Degree Feedback: A Benchmark Study of North America chronicles the most common practices and trends in 360 degree feedback from 211 companies in the United States and Canada. In this study surprising results revealed increased Human Resources involvement in 360 degree feedback practices and more emphasis on using feedback results for talent management and development decisions.

Advocates for the use of feedback results exclusively for developmental purposes argue that ratings become tainted by bias if raters know the results could have an effect on the recipient's position in the company. On the other side of the debate, proponents of the use of feedback results for decision making believe that if feedback recipients are not held accountable for making behavioral changes based on the results, the 360 degree feedback program will lose some of its effect on the organization's bottom line.

According to David Bracken Ph.D., author of The Handbook of Multisource Feedback, the 3D Group report provides "compelling evidence of ongoing efforts by organizations to improve important components of 360 feedback processes in supporting their use in both leadership development and personnel decision making."

3D Group's study found that 63% of organizations in the United States and Canada use 360 feedback results for some type of decision making, development and/or personnel. The types of talent management decisions include succession planning, high potential identification and training and curriculum planning. Furthermore, a startling 47% of companies report using their 360 degree feedback results for some part of performance management.

Career development still remains the most popular use for 360 degree feedback with 70% of companies reporting it as a use for feedback results. Dale S. Rose, Ph.D., President and co-founder of 3D Group stated "one of the most encouraging findings was that while some companies see coaching about the feedback results as an option that can be skipped, more than 70% of companies make executive coaching available as an important aspect of their 360 degree feedback process."

Dr. Rose explained the purpose of the study, "We've found over the last decade of conducting these studies that there is a tremendous amount of research on best practices but very little on how 360 degree feedback actually plays out in the workplace." Rose continues, "Our data clearly indicates that companies plan to continue investing in the growth and development of leaders. 74% of companies indicated they plan to maintain or increase spending on 360 degree feedback." 

Current Practices in 360 Degree Feedback: A Benchmark Study of North America also covers a wide range of information about 360 degree feedback practices from design decisions to rater selection. According to Bracken the study is "an invaluable resource that can inform the dozens of decisions that are required in designing and implementing a successful 360 degree feedback process."

More information about 3D Group and available research can be found at http://www.3dgroup.net/benchmark-studies.html

Limited press copies available on request by calling 510-463-0333. Dale Rose, Ph.D., President and Co-Founder of 3D Group is available for interviews.