A Life-Cycle Model For 360-Degree Feedback

by Michael L. Rivera

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


Huntington District


April 1999




The 360-degree feedback life-cycle model is described in the present report to aid senior managers in the deployment of a 360 degree feedback system. The model hypothesizes the phases of a 360 deployment gad assessment, planning, beta test, deployment, evaluative, and maturity—along with the various components of a 360 system, including tangible and intangible costs, interest within the organization, impact groups, communication/marketing, and HR systems integration. The model is intended to demonstrate the interrelatedness of the components of a 360-degree feedback system, while at the same time acting as a tool to aid in the actual deployment of this performance enhancing process within the corporate culture.  The model is then validated in an actual 360

deployment at the Huntington District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Finally, findings and conclusions are presented with suggestions for future research.





As the trend towards the organic organization continues, more and more senior managers are seeking means of improving organizational performance within the organic framework. The 360-degree feedback system provides a means to improve individual performance, organization-wide communications, teamwork, and, as a result, organizational performance. Since little has been written concerning the 360 process in terms of actual deployment in a business environment. This paper will provide senior managers the necessary information to understand and initiate the 360-degree feedback system in their organization.

As with many other business processes, the 360-degree feedback system undergoes a structured and progressive set of phases as it is deployed. These phases, when taken collectively, reflect a life-cycle for feedback system. It is hypothesized that the 360-degree feedback system – or simply 360- has six phases as it is deployed in an organization—exploration and assessment, planning, beta test, deployment, evaluative, and maturity. The Exploration and Assessment phase refers to the process of researching the pertinent information concerning 360 from both the academic’s and practitioner’s perspective. During the Planning phase, a deployment plan is established that integrates the research findings with the corporate environment to develop the road map for the deployment. The Beta Test phase allows the organization to test 360 on a small scale, make necessary modifications, and provide senior managers with substantiated findings on whether 360 is appropriate for the organization.  The Deployment phase begins the actual deployment of the 360 process within the organization as a whole and includes corporate training. The Evaluative phase requires that the 360 process be assessed for reliability, suitableness, and worthiness. Finally, the Maturity phase sees the 360 process becoming part of the corporate culture and business environment.

To help senior managers prepare for and complete each phase, an entry and exit milestone is presented prior to and after the phase, respectively. The entry milestone identifies those issues that must be addressed prior to entering the particular phase, while the exit milestone identifies the criteria on which to base a determination of whether the phase


has been completed. Also, for each phase, a list of requirements is provided that identifies exactly what is expected during the phase. Finally, each phase is described by the various components of the 360-degree feedback system of tangible and intangible costs, disinformation, interest within the organization, impact groups, communication/marketing, and HR systems integration. This can help senior managers see in one chart what factors will impact the organization and with what severity.

In order to validate the hypothesis of the life-cycle model, the author of this report led a group of senior and mid-level in the deployment of 360 at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Huntington District during 1998-1999. The actual deployment proved that the life-cycle model was valid with minimal discrepancies.

There were six primary findings of this research. First, senior managers must be

prepared for the extremely high tangible costs during the planning phase, along with a significant amount of disinformation throughout the organization.  Second, intangible costs are felt most severely during the deployment phase, but disinformation will begin to diminish. Third, the 360 process must not merely be communicated to the organization, but it must be marketed as with any other product or service.  Fourth in the early stages of the deployment, senior managers should not seek to impose the corporate vision on the 360 process and its instrument unless the corporate culture has already substantially absorbed the vision. Fifth, senior managers should seek to understand the psychology of the 360 process and its impact on individuals, formal and informal groups and the corporate culture as a whole. Finally, though senior management must guarantee rater- that is, feedback provider- anonymity during the process, it was learned that raters were willing to give up some level of perceived security in exchange for a simplified rating process.





















Chapter                                                                                                                       Page



ABSTRACT                                                                                                                i



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY                                                                                        ii


1.   INTRODUCTION.                                                                                               1

1.1.        Purpose.                                                                                 1

1.2.        Objectives of the Research.                                                 2

1.3.        Scope                                                                          3

1.4.        Research Methodology.                                                       3

1.5.        Basic Assumptions.                                                               4


2.   UNDERSTANDING THE 360-DEGREE FEEDBACK                                   5

2.1.   Introduction to Multirater Feedback                                                  5

2.2.   The 360-Degree Feedback System                                                    6

2.3.   Stratification of 360 Integration.                                                       8

2.4.  The Psychology of 360-Degree Feedback.                                        8


3.  THE 360-DEGREE LIFE-CYCLE MODEL                                          10

3.1. Purpose of the Model                                                                   10

3.2. Overview of the 360-Degree Life-Cycle Model.10

3.3. Components of the Model                                                                        10

3.3.1.     Tangible Costs                                                                            13

3.3.2.      Intangible Costs                                                                   14

3.3.3.      Disinformation.                                                                    16

3.3.4.              Interest within the Organization.

3.3.5.              Impact Groups


3.4  The Life-Cycle Phases of 360 Deployment.                                            18

3.5 The Exploration and Assessment Phase.                                                    19

3.5.1.     Entry Criteria.                                                                              19

3.5.2.                 Phase Requirements.                                                                  19

3.5.3.                 Phase Characteristics.                                                                20

3.5.4.                 Exit Criteria                                                                     21


3.6.   Planning Phase                                                                                            21

3.6.1.    Entry Criteria                                                                                    21

3.6.2.    Phase Requirements.                                                                        22

3.6.3.   Phase Characteristics.                                                                     24

3.6.4.   Exit Criteria                                                                                      25


3.7.  Beta Test Phase                                                                                             26

3.7.1.   Entry Criteria                                                                                    26

3.7.2.    Phase Requirements.                                                                       27

3.7.3.    Phase Characteristics.                                                                     28

3.7.4.   Exit Criteria                                                                                      28


3.8.  Deployment Phase                                                                                           29

3.8.1.   Entry Criteria                                                                                    29

3.8.2.    Phase Requirements.                                                                       30

3.8.3.    Phase Characteristics.                                                                     32

3.8.4.       Exit Criteria                                                                                      33

3.9  Evaluative Phase                                                                                   33

3.9.1.    Entry Criteria                                                                                    33

3.9.2.    Phase Requirements.                                                                        34

3.9.3.    Exit Criteria.                                                                                     34


3.10 Maturity Phase                                                                                                35




4.1. Organizational Background                                                               36

4.2. Cultural Assessment                                                                                      37

4.2.1. Geographic Factors                                                                             38

4.2.2. The Appalachian Culture                                                                     41

4.3.  Deployment Strategy                                                                                    45
4.3.1.  Catalyst for the 360 System                                                  45
4.3.2.  Deployment Team                                                                              46
4.3.3.  Deployment Plan                                                                                46



5.   FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS                                                                    56

5.1.   Introduction.                                                                                     56

5.2.  Exploration and Assessment Phase                                                 56

5.3.   Planning Phase.                                                                                            57

5.4.   Beta Test Phase.                                                                                           58

5.5.   Deployment Phase.                                                                                      61




APPENDIX A: Huntington District Deployment Team                                        62


APPENDIX B: Marketing Plan for 360                                                                  63

APPENDIX C: Huntington District Vision                                                            65


APPENDIX D: Huntington District Beta Test 360 Instrument                            67


APPENDIX E: Revised 360-Degree Feedback Instrument                                  73


APPENDIX F: Huntington District’s Conceptual 360 Model                              77


APPENDIX G: Readiness Assessment Questionnaire                                          78


APPENDIX H: Beta Test Feedback Process                                                          79


APPENDIX I: Union Negotiations for 360 Deployment                          80


REFERENCES                                                                                                          82