How NOT to Do 360 Degree Feedback, From a Train Wreck of a TV Show

I (regrettably) saw a clip the other night of the new FOX reality TV show called Does Somebody Have to Go?

It’s essentially an office-based reality show that “empowers” employees to weed out the bad workers in the company.

In part of the episode, all of the employees were interviewed individually on camera, and asked to share their thoughts on other employees and their performance. Later, all of the employees in the office gathered to watch selected clips from the interviews.

Not surprisingly, these clips show each of them saying negative things about each other. Then the drama begins …

360-degree feedback gone wrong

The FOX description of the show says:

On the new unscripted workplace experiment DOES SOMEONE HAVE TO GO?, the boardroom doors get blown wide open when employees are given the power to make some tough decisions. Frustrated bosses will hand over the reins of their companies to the employees, offering their respective staffs a chance to make changes in the workplace – even if it means letting co-workers go.

Almost every office across the country has some level of dysfunction, which often can be attributed to just a few select individuals – those co-workers who might be viewed as anything from lazy to incompetent to quite simply having a toxic personality that poisons the entire workplace. The difficult part for the employees is that, most of the time, the boss isn’t even aware of how bad the problem is, and the only person who can do anything about it IS the boss. That is, until now!”

It sounds like a great idea, but the whole process gets bastardized because the television producers are in it for maximum drama and really don’t care about the train wreck they leave behind.

Abdicating responsibility

In fact, the more carnage, the better. This video equivalent of 360-degree-feedback-gone-wrong only produced negative feelings, and left the recipient feeling defensive and demotivated.

Unfortunately, the parallel to many 360-degree feedback processes in organizations today is uncanny.

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This so-called reality TV show is a classic example of giving someone their 360 feedback report without any support or coaching that will produce development. Some organizations claim to be “empowering” employees with feedback, both in terms of giving and receiving, yet all they are really doing is creating a train wreck by providing biased information without an appropriate cause.

In fact, some organizations take this a step further, as does this reality show, and abdicate the responsibility of providing performance feedback. Rather, they lay this responsibility solely on the shoulders of co-workers. A no-win approach for the individual, the organization, and those providing feedback.

I doubt these companies featured on Does Somebody Have to Go? will last long, but they probably won’t get “cancelled” before the show does. So, check it out on FOX and let me know what you think.

As for me and reality TV, I’m sticking with The Bachelor.

This was originally published on the DecisionWise blog.

Charles Rogel is Director of Products and Marketing at DecisionWise, a management consulting firm specializing in leadership and organization development using assessments, feedback, coaching, and training. He has an extensive background in international sales and consulting.

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