Anonymous 360° Assessments

Hi, Everyone!

In one of my recent posts, I mentioned that the keynote speaker at the Prism Awards, Susan Scott, took issue with the use of 360° anonymous assessments and I asked you to weigh in on the subject.

Here’s some of the feedback I received from you, and I’d certainly like to hear more:

“It would be wonderful NOT to have anonymous 360’s! I’m curious, how does she handle an employee’s fear of retribution if they give less than positive feedback about their boss?”

“I, for one, loved Susan Scott’s naming of the elephant in the living room, re: the “annonymous” part of a 360. I’ve worked with people who have more energy around figuring out who might have said what in the report than they do on learning from the data… sigh, why not just have a direct — fierce — conversation?  Why not give clear, direct and helpful feedback frequently?”

“Beautiful concept, but how realistic is it?”

So, here’s a link to a sample chapter from Susan’s book, “Fierce Leadership”:

Susan Scott, “Fierce Leadership”

Give it a quick read and let me know what you think!



4 Responses to Anonymous 360° Assessments

  1. Jeanne Lebens says:

    I agree that anonymous feedback has serious limitations, but I think the more important issue Susan points to is that typical feedback, whether given directly or anonymously, isn’t effective because it is too general. Unless we can describe specific behaviors someone is exhibiting, how those are perceived by others and what the consequences of those behaviors are, we aren’t giving the recipient anything concrete to work with to enable change.

    I think it would be the rare leader who can create a truly safe environment for subordinates to give direct feedback without fear of retribution. So anonymous feedback that is summarized by a trained third party who can provide greater specificity as described above may be a more realistic and practical solution.

  2. Paul says:

    The Anonymous 360, in my opinion, is an invitation for an irresponsible person (or someone who’s just having a bad day) to excoriate a fellow human being for no good reason.

    Let me share my first-hand experience.

    Priding myself on openness, transparency, decency and integrity, I once invited my entire staff to evaluate me as the leader of their organization. While many had generally favorable things to say, and a few helpful suggestions, a few offered sharply-pointed criticisms that probably had some basis in truth, but that were worded so offensively, that those were the only comments i remembered two years later.

    While I certainly had no interested in finding out who said what, I also wasn’t very motivated to focus on the more helpful comments, either.

    I think that in a healthy culture, people-in general-are willing to say what needs to be said, and take ownership of their comments. In fact, I believe they prefer to. It’s up to good leaders to create a safe environment for meaningful discussions. And, for frank assessments.

    The notion of “anonymity” runs counter to creating a healthy culture. And, it can be destructive.

    Just my two cents.

  3. ajai56 says:

    I have been using 360′ as part of my coaching practice for years. It may be culturally forthcoming in the US to give direct feedback (though I wonder how many really do?) but certainly in Asia when feedback is tough people will never give it in the face specially to a superior. Thus the anonymity of the individual is critical. Yes, managers are able to deduce that so and so may have given a specific feedback but when that same gets replicated by others its impact can be transformational.

  4. Yvonne says:

    For me in today’s environment, companies might be better able to have feedback work if they ask themselves ‘What are some of the ways our senior managers and managers are behaving that nurtures the need for anonymity?” From my perspective, most people are smart, intelligent and wise naturally. It is natural to be in the mode to want to contribute to the people around us, both at work and in our lives. Authenticity and honoring my values allows me to want to give feedback with a pure intention of making a difference in somepne’s life, however, personally I am quite aware that it is a judgment on my part and therefore give little and prefer to have a conversation inquiring about the source of making decisions that may have an impact on me and my well-being. Usually that leads me to my humanity, one of non-perfection, room for errors and room for growth, and when I can honor that in myself, I feel more respectful of where someone is in there life and how they make their decisions. I believe in authentic, sincere, caring relationships where it is about people being themsleves and collaborating in a healthy manner and performance follows naturally.

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