Some feedback tools allow you to ask a question, and then provide ratings for all of the people that you are giving feedback about.

The supposed benefits is that this is more efficient, and allows you to give a fairer relative score to each person (as compared to their peers).

We do not support this, for three reasons:

  1. Comparing the performance of individuals can make the exercise feel like a formal appraisal process, which 360 feedback is ill-suited for (read why here)

  2. By placing the ratings for different individuals next to each other, there's an inclination to say "John is better than Katy at this, so I'll give him a 4 rather than a 3". However, it's more important to say "John is a really strong leader, so I'll give him a 4, whereas he's not always great at communicating, so I'll give him a 3 for that". The latter makes it much easier for John to prioritize his areas for improvement, without any scores being adjusted due to the perceived performance of his peers.

  3. At the end of the questionnaire, it's really powerful to ask "What are this person's 3 biggest strengths, and how can they build on these?" and "What are this person's 3 biggest areas for improvement, and why?". These questions work really well if the respondent's mind is focused on one person who they've just provided ratings for. It's harder for the respondent to give their best answer to these questions if they're providing feedback for several people at the same time.

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