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360-Degree Interview Based Feedback vs. Online Survey Based Feedback

Business leaders may be curious as to the differences between interview-based 360 feedback versus online survey based feedback. They are similar, but distinct processes which offer different pros and cons. Both are forms of soliciting feedback regarding strengths and weaknesses from subordinates, peers, supervisors, and even external stakeholders such as customers or suppliers. In this article we will explore those differences and which situations are ideal for using each approach.

Interview-based 360-degree feedback is a high touch proposition that, while more expensive and time consuming, offers a number of benefits. The process entails interviewing a broad set of stakeholders regarding a leader’s strengths and development opportunities and synthesizing this input in such a way as to ensure feedback providers’ responses remain confidential. In our experience, interview based feedback enables leaders to get more honest and contextualized feedback from those being interviewed. We typically use interview based 360 feedback for senior executives, high potential development and succession planning efforts, because this process:

  • Produces greater clarity and context than numerical ratings
  • Allows problems to be diagnosed (versus just getting a low score on an item)
  • The consultant can be more hard hitting and pointed in delivering feedback.
  • The consultant can emphasize the most important priorities in the delivery of the feedback so that the coachee doesn’t get caught up in minutia.

On the other hand, online 360-degree feedback entails raters completing an online survey about a leader and rating them on a number of specific leadership or management competencies. The main benefit of this approach in comparison to interview based feedback is that it is less expensive that interview-based feedback, rendering it a scalable solution. An additional benefit of online 360 feedback is that the quantitative feedback enables relatively simple assessment of change over time. When using online feedback, we strongly recommend employing a “flash follow-up survey.” This entails reassessing feedback providers on a subset (typically 5) of items 6 months after the original survey was completed to measure progress on a targeted set of priorities. This approach is far more focused and efficient than simply reassessing all stakeholders on all original items. Bottom line: this approach to collecting online follow up feedback saves time and delivers the most valuable data needed for improvement.

When deciding between using interview based 360-degree feedback or online 360-degree feedback, one needs to think about the goals of their coaching process. Is the goal to offer a scalable method of enhancing leader self-awareness across a wide number of people managers/ in which case online feedback is best, or is the goal to provide deeper insight and awareness to a subset of leaders where interview based feedback will provide optimal results?

At Avion Consulting, we incorporate both 360-degree feedback and online tools to help our clients in their efforts to improve as leaders. Business leaders, have you used either of these tools and how would you evaluate their effectiveness? For more about Avion Consulting’s services, visit https://avionconsulting.com/. We also invite you to join the #AvionConsulting newsletter for further discussion at  http://bit.ly/AvionNews.