Is There A Difference Between Crowdsourcing Performance Appraisals and 360 Degree Feedback?

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Eric Mosley, from Globoforce, one of the two companies easily associated with crowdsourcing, puts it this way in a blog contribution to the HBR site (note that is not an HBR article per se-check out this link on credibilty and HBR blogs)

 And unlike 360 degree reviews, which require specific colleagues to provide a formal, forced review of an individual, crowdsourcing is inspired peer-to-peer performance feedback. This stream of recognition, which often appears in internal social newsfeeds, provides timely, measurable insights into your talent, top influencers and performers.

While it's possible to have different definitions of 360 degree feedback, Mosley tries to distinguish crowdsourcing from 360 degree feedback by presupposing things about 360 that are not accurate.

While his description is ONE variation of the 360 degree process, it is not the only way. There are many variations which do not involved a "forced review" (what does that mean?) or "requiring specific colleagues to provide a formal review".

In fact, often a true 360 degree feedback system REQUIRES input from the customers as well, something Mosley doesn't mention here.

From the marketing material from Mosley's company, what he probably means here is that crowdsourcing performance reviews is done constantly -- the company talks about "real time" feedback, and apparently he believes 360 cannot be used for anything more than a "once a year" forced process. Mosley gives us no hints as to how constant real time crowdsourced feedback would be collected, interpreted and transformed into meaningful and actionable decisions, so it's hard to make sense of the distinction he makes. The devil will be in the details.

In truth there's little difference between the two in terms of the power to improve performance. Which, by the way, is limited. Both 360 and crowdsourcing suffer from exactly the same faults, which makes them complete. unsuitable as replacements for traditional reviews. Or as feedback mechanisms to improve performance.

One may look a little different from the other (the software may be different and crowdsourcing may use "social platforms" more), but the limitations are the same. As is the basic concept; removing the feedback mechanism from the hands of the managers to put it in the hands of anonymous commentators.


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Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992 by consultant and book author, Robert Bacal. Robert's books on performance management and reviews have been published by McGraw-Hill. He is available for consultation, training and keynote speaking on performance and management at work.


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