Crowdsourcing vs. 360 Degree Feedback (part 2)

In the last blog post I introduced the differences between Crowdsourcing vs. 360 Degree Feedback.  In this post we’ll look at some different needs and pick the best tool for the job.

If your need is any of these, 360 Degree Feedback is the best tool for the job
  • Identifying actual behaviors to develop as opposed to general needs.
  • Targeting the training budget to highly specific needs.
  • Providing the organisation with quantitative data and analysis.
  • Giving an individual a comparison to a benchmark.
  • Finding the gaps between how well a person knows themselves compared to how others see them.
  • Analysing a group of people for common strengths and areas needing development.


Crowdsourcing is a great new tool for the manager’s toolbox.

If your need is any of these, Crowdsourcing is the best tool for the job
  • Getting feedback at a moments notice.
  • Obtaining general and open-ended feedback.
  • Feedback that is not prompted by set behavioural categories and questions.
  • Asking follow-up questions.
  • Asking for feedback from colleagues to support your performance review.
  • Getting ad-hoc feedback on team members to support their performance review.
  • Getting feedback on team members who you aren’t working directly with (for example, when team members are working in project teams).
  • Enabling people to discuss feedback together.

Crowdsourcing is a useful tool for getting feedback on ad-hoc things at a moments notice.  It has a much less formal feel and is very much in line with our social technology age.  For example, people can discuss the feedback together.  It doesn’t replace 360 Degree Feedback which is very effective at identifying highly specific behaviours where people can be developed.  But crowdsourcing is a great new addition to the toolbox that can simplify life for managers and HR.

Request a demo of our social module to see crowdsourcing in action.

Crowdsourcing vs. 360 Degree Feedback (part 1)

In a previous post I talked about my experience crowdsourcing for feedback.  It’s a much different experience to receiving 360 Degree Feedback.  It’s less formal for a start and you have total control over it.  Crowdsourcing has a number of advantages over 360 Degree Feedback.  Which begs the question, should 360 be consigned to the scrap heap?

Let’s start with a basic understanding of the two approaches.

360 Degree Feedback is an organised process where people receive feedback against a questionnaire.  The questionnaire is usually based around a set of competencies and behaviours.  For example, new leaders may receive feedback against a set of competencies and behaviors that define good leadership.  Responses are provided by a number of people who are invited to give feedback. To be able to provide good quality feedback, they need to know the person well.  You can read more about 360 Degree Feedback on our web site here and here.

Crowdsourcing is a less formal tool that you can use to go out to a wider group of respondents. For example, you might crowdsource using every person in a department as a potential respondent.  Unlike 360 Degree Feedback, there’s no expectation that every person in the group will respond.  You can initiate crowdsourcing as and when you like it.  Although you wouldn’t want to annoy people too frequently, crowdsourcing is suitable to use more than just once or twice a year.

Screenshot of crowdsourcing tool

There’s a big difference with the number of questions you ask with each tool.  With 360 Degree Feedback you might ask 60 highly specific questions. With crowdsourcing you might ask just one or two questions like “can you provide at least one suggestion where I can improve as a leader”.

In the second part of this blog post we’ll look at whether crowdsourcing or 360 Degree Feedback is the best tool for the job.  I’ll give some examples of different needs and pick a winner.

Request a demo of our social module to see crowdsourcing in action.

HR Rescues Man – Crowdsourcing feedback

Or the boring title: One of the ways our new crowdsourcing feedback tool is useful.

How many people do you know who love HR? Dan does. His performance reviews were now all in the one place, quicker and easier than before.

But his love may be short lived. He had struggled with the review for one of his team. He felt like he had been dropped into the desert Bear Grylls style. Can HR come to the rescue?


It was Belinda’s review that had hit Dan for six. Belinda worked on projects right across the organisation. Dan wasn’t involved in the projects and found he couldn’t offer any feedback on Belinda’s achievements. He’d been completely lost and made a blind assessment on Belinda’s performance. That wasn’t the way he wanted to review his staff.

It’s a familiar story. Managers don’t always have the right information. Like trying to choose the water well that’s safe to drink from, it’s a risky way to review performance. It might be OK, but chances are …


Let’s try this again. This time Bear Grylls style with the right knowledge and tools.

HR threw Dan a lifeline. Prior to Belinda’s review, Dan used the new feedback crowdsourcing tool in Cognology. He could pick from a great range of questions, which saved him a heap of time. Dan selected the key people Belinda had worked with and Cognology took care of the rest.

By the end of the week Dan had his compass. He had a complete view of Belinda’s performance and some brilliant examples of her contribution to the business. The insight he gained was incredible. He was even able to discuss the feedback online.


Bear had his helicopter. Dan had HR. From that day forth, HR was known as Human Rescue.

If you want to fly in and save your managers from wandering the desert, you can see more on our social enterprise software at our web site.

What it’s like to crowdsource for feedback

What had I gotten myself into?  I had crowdsourced for feedback using our new technology.  It should have been a pretty cool process.  Crowdsourcing is a thing of our times.  I should have been in for some amazing results.

The responses started coming in.  It was mostly what I already knew about myself, not earth shattering.  And then wallop, the one I wasn’t expecting.

This is an open account of what it’s like to crowdsource for feedback.  How it affected me and what happened as a result.

We recently added a crowdsourcing capability to our online system.  It lets you source feedback in a more informal way than tools like 360-degree feedback.  As part of our dogfooding process, I decided to use the crowdsourcing capability to get some feedback for myself.  I asked two simple questions:

  1. Can you suggest one thing I should get better at?
  2. What’s my best quality?

Most of the feedback was pretty standard sort of stuff.  What I already knew.  What I really wanted was a valuable nugget.  I wanted to find out something that I wasn’t aware of.  Something that if I changed, could really help me.  I wanted something that would make me more successful.  But instead I got a problem.

The ‘Hand of Faith’ gold nugget


The ‘Hand of Faith’ gold nugget 

I had put in place a new business process which was meant to be a massive improvement over our previous one.  After a few months of this process, it looked that way to me.  But the feedback was complaining about this new process.

As an advocate for feedback I couldn’t ignore it.  That would be hypocritical, saying one thing and doing another.  It’s bad practice when receiving feedback to argue against it.  So how could I now turn around and tell this person they were wrong?  How could they not see how great this new process was?

The night after I received the feedback I lost sleep.  Two or three hours.  Trying to work out how to handle the dilemma of wanting to be a model feedback recipient, but disagreeing with the feedback.

The next day I spoke with the person who gave me the feedback.  We didn’t see eye to eye on the key point.  Not the sort of thing you want to promote.

Fast forward a few months, what had I done about it?  Well, I can’t believe looking back that I actually lost sleep over it.  Once I got over the initial OMG response, I could see the feedback for what it was.  Rather than making a wholesale change to the new business process, I found myself accommodating the other person’s needs.  It just happened without me thinking too much about it.

And what is the result of doing that?  The result has been unbelievably positive.  There are better outcomes for me and everyone by adjusting to this feedback.  I am better off for it, not just a little bit, but a lot.  This did actually turn out to be one of the nuggets I was looking for.  I just couldn’t see it at the time because of my crazy emo response to the feedback.  Embarrassing to say, but it’s an open account nonetheless.

Request a demo of our social module to see crowdsourcing in action.