360 Performance Appraisal Case Study

Case Study #1
How ADP Uses 20/20® Insight GOLD for Internal Quality Surveys

Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) is one of the largest providers of a broad range of mission-critical, cost-effective transaction processing and information-based business solutions. Since purchasing 20/20® Insight GOLD in 2000, ADP has assessed more than 15,000 individuals.

The software is used on an almost daily basis for the Ohio Valley Region of ADP's Major Accounts Division, which covers Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. The 20/20® Insight GOLD administrator sets up projects for a variety of applications, including: 360-degree feedback, internal and external customer feedback, and training evaluation.

Because 20/20® Insight GOLD is so flexible, they can set up a department to receive feedback, not just individuals. As a result, ADP has had excellent success using the program for annual internal quality surveys requested by the region Management Team. In this application, other departments provide feedback to a specific department whose services they receive. Since they all need to work together for the benefit of the client, it's important for each department to learn about its strengths and areas for improvement from its internal customers.

First, the manager of a given department identifies the departments that will give feedback, along with the specific individuals who will complete the questionnaires. The manager provides the administrator with the information needed to create the survey. The number of questions is kept to a minimum, typically no more than 10 scaled items, plus one open-ended question for general comments. Respondent relationships are the names of each department giving feedback, such as Client Services, Implementation, Finance and Sales. That way, the data in the reports can be broken out according to different customer groups.

Once all responses have been collected, the administrator prepares a PDF file of the report and sends it to the department managers, who then discuss the results with their up line manager. Afterwards, managers share the report with their peers in their department. Together they identify problem areas to be targeted and create an action plan for improvement.

20/20® Insight GOLD’S Advanced Report function lets the administrator create a summary report for senior staff combining data from all departments. And the flexibility of the reporting component makes it easy to give each senior manager exactly the display of data he/she wants. Since they're already familiar with the report formats from other applications, such as 360-degree feedback, they know what to ask for in these summary reports.

Because ADP has now conducted these surveys over multiple years, they're also able to compare the current year to the previous year to check progress towards completion of goals and evaluate the effectiveness of their action items. These internal quality surveys have significantly improved the level of service that ADP's departments provide to each other.

Case Study #2
How 360 Feedback Helped One Manager Get Results

John* was a newly promoted manager with a major utility company. With his new position, he inherited a team of 13 supervisors. Most were long-term employees, and John was much younger than most of his direct reports. Many of the supervisors thought they deserved the promotion and resented John's appointment.

He soon discovered that the performance of his supervisors was below par. He spent a lot of time working on relationships with each of them, clarifying service standards and trying to build a cohesive team.

Despite his best efforts, John encountered resistance; and performance did not improve. He knew that the supervisors were unhappy, but he couldn't get them to talk about their dissatisfaction. When he learned about 20/20® Insight GOLD, he decided to use it to ask for feedback about his leadership practices. He hoped that the information gained would provide a basis for dialogue and team building.

Working with a consultant, John selected the behaviors critical to his leadership. The consultant then met with the team and explained how the feedback would be collected. She assured everyone that their responses would be anonymous.

After the feedback was collected, the consultant met with John to help him to interpret the data and establish his priorities for action. She also coached him on how to respond to the feedback.
Over the next few weeks, John met with his direct reports individually and as a group. He asked them to clarify certain aspects of the feedback. He also explained which priority areas he planned to work on first and why he did not plan to alter some behaviors.

He saw an immediate change in his team. Resistance decreased, productivity increased and a customer service orientation began to take hold. Over time, he was able to rebuild his team of supervisors. They pulled together to become the only team to meet or exceed all established performance goals for the next quarter. They continued to perform well, and within the year John received a substantial promotion. He attributed much of his success to the feedback process and the open dialogue it produced. Based on this experience, his division obtained the 20/20® Insight GOLD system for general in-house use.

*The name of the manager has been changed to protect confidentiality

Case Study #3
Making 360 Part of Hershey Foods' Culture for Leadership Development

Hershey Foods Corporation is a confectionery and grocery products company. With headquarters in Hershey, Pennsylvania, it has about 12,000 employees with plants throughout North America, including Canada and Mexico.

Executives at Hershey wanted a 360-degree feedback system that was easy to customize for a variety of groups across the organization. They wanted key functional areas and plants to manage their own programs, so they needed software that was easy to install and use. They foresaw that, over time, multi-source feedback would be used many times by a lot of people. Therefore, the software had to be affordable. 20/20® Insight GOLD’S quantity discount pricing made this possible.

The goal at Hershey is to make multi-source feedback a permanent part of the corporate culture. The HR staff consulted with experts familiar with 20/20® Insight GOLD and the 360 process to ensure that their strategy was developed thoughtfully and that their first programs were successful. Their approach was to introduce multi-source feedback gradually, gaining acceptance along the way. Senior Hershey Foods executives were assessed first, enabling them to refine the core items, spark interest and establish credibility.

One of the first groups to be assessed included more than 120 sales managers. Internal leadership consultant Jim Czupil explained to subjects: "You have an opportunity to grow professionally with this information. How you handle the feedback and the methods you use to share it with your team and your manager will have a significant impact on the benefit you receive from the process. Take time to reflect on the feedback and look for trends that outline current strengths and opportunities to further develop your leadership style." He coached participants to share the feedback with their team and set development goals with their managers.

According to Czupil, 20/20® Insight GOLD has promoted a more profound awareness of leadership developmental needs. Analyzing aggregate 360 feedback data has helped define leadership competencies for present and future leaders, and it has helped the organization determine exactly the kind of leadership development programs needed by different divisions. Feedback from participants has been positive, and requests for additional programs continue to rise.


Picture via www.freedigitalphotos.net

Overview and Introduction

May, 2012 by Nicole Thompson (MSLOC student)

As organizations face increasing internal and external challenges, the effectiveness of teams to deliver on performance goals will become a key source of differentiation between organizations who are successful and ones who fall behind their competition. Critical to a team’s level of effectiveness is the ability for individual team members to communicate with each other and the organization as a whole. One aspect of communication that is important to team performance is feedback. Learning and Organizational Change professionals are often tasked with implementing and driving the feedback process within an organization. It is important to understand the benefits and challenges specific to 360-feedback in a team setting, along with identifying success criteria for introducing this type of feedback within a team. This article will explore these considerations and demonstrate how introducing a formal 360-feedback process can increase individual self-awareness and transparent communication within a team and lead to an increase in overall team performance.

Theory Behind 360-degree Feedback and Its Use in Organizations

The concept of 360-degree feedback originated in the 1950s and 1960s when the topic of organizational development was increasing in popularity and organizations saw a need to improve overall process and communication (Walderman, 1998). Initial efforts at collecting feedback were reliant heavily on upward feedback (Walderman, 1998). 360-degree feedback has since evolved and expanded to include multiple rater groups. The image below provides a visual of Foster & Law’s (2006) “full-circle” 360-degree feedback model. One of the benefits of 360-degree feedback is that it includes input from various stakeholder groups, including supervisors, peers, subordinates, and the individual's self-evaluation (Foster & Law, 2006). Feedback from multiple sources is found to typically yield higher quality feedback that is more valid and reliable than feedback from a single source (Hurley, 1998). While Foster & Law (2006) believe strongly in limiting feedback to these specific groups, others such as Morgeson et. al. (2005) see value in including external customers, vendors or suppliers. The important condition is that raters are chosen based on their working relationship to the individual and how closely they know the person so that actionable feedback can be provided.

Benefits of Using 360-degree Feedback in Teams

There are several benefits associated with utilizing 360-degree feedback within a team environment. When used effectively, Hurley (2008) found that 360-degree feedback can increase communication, foster employee development, and increase productivity and efficiency on a team. Let’s examine these three benefits of 360-degree feedback within teams:

Frequent and Transparent Communication

Teams who utilize 360-degree feedback can increase the level and quality of communication within the team, leading to increased team performance. Research has found that both formal and informal communication often increases after the implementation of 360-degree feedback, and an increase in two-way communication can be seen between team members (London & Beatty, 1993). As feedback results are delivered and discussed among team members, communication is shown to become more frequent and more transparent (Antonioni, 1996). Participants report that issues that previously may have been difficult to discuss become easier to address because of open communication channels and removal of the fear of retaliation (Peiperl, 2001). As teams continue to seek out feedback from each other, they increase trust with each other and are more likely to achieve performance goals (Mamatoglu, 2008).

Increased Self-Awareness

Using 360-degree feedback within a team environment can lead to an increase in self-awareness among team members as individuals consider assessments of their own performance compared with others' assessment of their performance. Self-awareness can also contribute to increased communication and transparency among team members, enabling the team as a whole to perform at a higher level. A self-awareness of individual strengths and weaknesses leads to improvements in work behavior and performance, which in turn contribute to greater overall team performance (Antonioni, 1996). Even the process of completing the 360-degree feedback allows raters the opportunity to reflect on their own behavior and determine whether they may need to improve their own performance to better align with expectations (Dominick et. al., 1997).

Clearer Understanding of Goals and Expectations

Effective 360-degree feedback should focus on behaviors that align to team values and objectives (London & Beatty, 1993). The process of completing 360-degree feedback provides raters with greater insight and understanding into the values and behaviors that are important for team success. Seeing how others are being evaluated allows team members to formulate their own expectations around goals for performance and behaviors (Dominick et. al., 1997). When 360-degree feedback is combined with setting specific performance goals that relate to developmental areas identified in the feedback, even greater changes in behavior are expected (Dominick et. al., 1997). Second, Locke and Latham even ventured so far as to say that introducing a formal feedback system into a group may motivate individuals to set their own performance goals without explicitly being instructed to so do. (Dominick, 1997).

Challenges to using 360-degree Feedback in Teams

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). Walderman (1998) discusses research showing that up to 35% of raters change their ratings when they believe feedback will be used for performance and compensation decisions versus being purely developmental. This uncertainty can also lead to rater bias, such as halo bias or inflation bias. Even if these effects are mitigated, teams should remember that individual personality, attitude, corporate culture, and situational factors may all contribute to one’s desire and willingness to participate in the feedback process (Hurley, 1998).


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).

Rater Anonymity

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.

Recommendations for Implementing 360-Degree Feedback Within a Team Environment

While challenges exist to implementing a 360-degree feedback process within a team environment, the recommendations below help to enable teams to gain the benefits of 360-degree feedback and increase team performance through transparent communications and greater self-awareness.

1) Consider the Background and History of the Team

Prior to implementing a 360-degree process, it is important to consider the background and history of the team to determine whether this type of formal feedback is the right approach. A team should be established for a certain level of time – 1.7 years according to Hurley (1998) – before a formal 360-degree feedback process is undertaken. This allows for the team to get to know and understand each other before being asked to provide developmental feedback on team members. Additional factors such as maturity of the team, levels of trust, stability and commitment should be assessed prior to launch as these can also have positive or negative feedback implications (Hurley, 1998).

2) Establish the Structure and Purpose for 360-degree feedback

Clearly communicating the intent and purpose may negate the effects of some of the biases that affect 360-degree feedback results. Decisions on structure should consider what purpose feedback will and will not be used for, along with devising an action plan for sharing feedback within the team (Antonioni, 1996). It is important to avoid the appearance of “dead-end feedback,” feedback that is collected but results in little to no follow up or attempted behavior change (Morgeson et. al., 2005). Providing an action plan helps prevent raters from becoming cynical and encourages them to provide feedback in the future. Leaders should also determine at the outset of the process the frequency with which feedback will be collected moving forward. Most recommendations call for feedback to be conducted in 6-12 month intervals from the start of the feedback process for teams to assess progress and performance improvements (Antonioni, 1996).

3) Assure Rater Anonymity and Fairness

Anonymity and a sense of fairness should be established early in the 360-degree feedback process. A minimum numbers of raters should be agreed upon prior to the launch of the feedback process to establish and protect rater anonymity. Antonioni (1996) recommends at least five raters complete the process for feedback to be shared with the individual. Additionally, raters and ratees must feel the process is fair and that they will be rated honestly (Morgeson et. al., 2005). Joint rater selection involving input from both the manager and ratee is the preferred approach to achieve fairness in rater selection (Carson, 2006).

4) Deliver and Share Feedback with the Team

Feedback can be delivered by an external consultant trained in 360-degree feedback facilitation or an internal leader. If feedback is delivered by someone not experienced in feedback delivery, then post-feedback training is a critical element to ensure feedback is shared appropriately within the team and can be used in a way that helps propel the team to the next level of performance. Training should focus on helping leaders interpret feedback results, working with team members to identify strengths and weaknesses, handling and delivering negative feedback, and developing action plans for sharing feedback with the team and working towards established goals (Morgeson et. al., 2005). Since 360-degree feedback can be interpreted in a variety of ways, it is important to establish a framework for consistent delivery of results. This consistency will enable the team to achieve the benefits of 360-degree feedback that will increase their performance.

Case Study: National Semiconductor’s India Design Center (Polzer and Kind, 2005)

In 2002, National Semiconductor’s India Design Center began using 360-degree feedback to increase team performance through more transparent team communications. At the time, the organizational strategy was shifting from product differentiation to low-cost producer. The shift was requiring teams to work more closely together and coordinate with team members and other teams within the organization. Multiple reporting relationships already existed, further emphasizing the need to effectively work together cross-functionally. The Design Center's team leaders had previously received feedback through individual 360-degree feedback assessments and clearly understood the value this process could bring to their teams. These leaders initiated the 360-degree feedback process by identifying competencies essential for team success and used these as the basis for questions in the process. They engaged an outside facilitator to deliver the results and facilitate the sharing of feedback within the team. Post-session, the team committed to one-on-one discussions of their feedback and regular touch points within the group to discuss their individual progress. One month after the team conducted the program, managers noted increased coordination and communication among team members.


Utilizing 360-degree feedback can be effective in a team environment to promote self-awareness and create transparency in communications through trust, sharing, and increased clarity towards expected goals and behaviors. Implementing a formal 360-degree feedback process should not be taken lightly. Rather, to be successful leaders need to consider elements of the team, details of the process, and the long-term objectives and activities needed to sustain the benefits. Overall, a well-designed 360-degree feedback process can lead to an increase overall team performance.


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Dominick, Peter G., Richard R. Reilly and Jack W. McGrourty. The effects of peer feedback on team member behavior. Group & Organization Management, 22(4), 508-520.
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Polzer, Jeffrey T. and Kind, Liz. National Semiconductor’s India Design Center. Harvard Business Review, Jan2005.
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