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The contribution of a Scottish louse to 360-degree feedback

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The renowned Scottish poet Robert “Rabbie” Burns (1759-1796) wrote, in Ode to a Louse:

O wad some power the giftie gie us,
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion;
What airs in dress an gait wad lae’e us,
An ev’n devotion.


Burns was focusing on the illusions we might have about ourselves. However, in eighteenth century Scotland, 360-degree feedback was not yet in vogue. In more modern settings, and administered effectively, 360-degree feedback can be a very helpful way of confronting us with our strengths and development needs, and assisting us in developing workable plans to address their implications.

The success of the 360-degree approach lies in part in the confidential nature of the feedback: the recipient alone (and perhaps their coach) are the only ones to see the results in their entirety. As a consequence, some development needs can be addressed whilst still offering the manager some possibility of face-saving. In our haste to tell people “the truth” (which in any case will always be partial) it is easy to forget that even the most self-assured amongst us sometimes require a little air-cover.

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Daily quote:

“The Gods have two ways of dealing harshly with us – the first is to deny us our dreams, and the second is to grant them”
(Oscar Wilde)

McNulty Management Consultants

Daily Management Nugget

Research and facts which all managers should know

Today’s Nugget:

The contribution of a Scottish louse to 360-degree feedback (click above)

Tomorrow’s Nugget:

When you take decisions, beware of their unintended consequences