Doodle Card #260 – Don’t Seek Casual Opinions


Don’t seek casual opinions.


The person you ask for feedback is as equally important as the question you ask.

360-degree feedback is one of the common evaluation processes in a corporate world. From my point of view, it is also quite dysfunctional.

Some say, we can receive objective feedback about ourselves through 360-degree feedback. Not at all. People fill out a survey based upon their own opinion, and we receive the aggregate of subjective opinions of others. It can never be objective.

360-degree feedback also has the risk of asking for feedback from wrong people, even if its questions are right. Not everyone in a workplace — even a person who is sitting next to us — knows enough about what we do. Without enough facts in hand, how could it be possible to answer a survey without being affected by personal feelings or opinions?

Even worse, 360-degree feedback often asks wrong questions. Many companies use a template that outside people created (like HR agency), and some — if not all — questions don’t fit the culture of the company. It is a kind of comedy when we see questions like “Avoids negative politicking and hidden agendas” or “Serves others; avoids selfishness” on a 360-degree survey at the company that has a very hostile and bureaucratic corporate culture.

The same applies when we personally ask for feedback from others. To avoid receiving subjective opinions, we carefully need to choose whom we ask and what to ask. People who are close to us aren’t always capable of giving us the right feedback.

We need to avoid vague, out-of-context questions. For example, “From your point of view, what are my strengths?” may not always be the right question because people who don’t know you well can’t answer to this type of broad question. If we ask more specific question like “What kind of contributions did I make to your work in the past 6 months, and how did my contributions help you?” instead, we can get more useful feedback.

Getting sincere and useful feedback requires patience and careful thoughts. It is not something we can easily achieve on Facebook.