While there are several benefits to introducing 360-degree feedback into a team, there are challenges that should be considered before a team decides to implement a formal feedback process.
Asking the Right Questions
First, the 360-degree feedback survey needs to address the right questions. For the feedback to be most effective, questions should identify behaviors that link to overall team and organizational goals (Carson, 2006). As Carson further identifies (2006), asking the wrong questions can “demoralize workers” and leave them confused as to what behaviors are important and desired within the team.
Intent of 360-Degree Feedback
It is critical to frame up how 360-degree feedback will and will not be used within the team. Not clearly stating the outcome of feedback or failing to identify a follow-up plan for interpreting and sharing results can lead to fear and lack of trust (Carson, 2006). Raters may not be truthful or forthcoming with their feedback if they are unable to determine whether the feedback will be used in conjunction with a performance review versus solely for individual personal development (Carson, 2006).
In addition to the above challenges, there are resource costs to launching a 360-degree feedback process for a team. The complexity of managing input from a variety of sources requires that time and money be invested from multiple parties (London & Beatty, 1993).
Finally, crucial care must be taken to protect the anonymity of raters in the review process (London & Beatty, 1993). If a rater questions whether his or her responses will be explicitly shared with the individual, they may consider altering the response for fear of conflict or retaliation.