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As we start off the New Year, many companies are preparing to launch its strategic plans and goals. And as expected, there are several articles and blogs predicting the various industry trends for 2011. What better time to put the TBC President and VP in the hot seat, right? I asked them to shine-up their crystal ball and talk about the state of 360 Feedback in 2011.

So without further ado, here are a few predictions about upcoming trends for 360s from Derek Murphy and Tom Kuhne.

Emerging markets are growing at a rapid-pace, and the U.S. companies with presence in these markets are investing more in leadership development tools. With a greater focus on leadership development in emerging markets, more companies are requesting translation capabilities from its 360 feedback provider.

While translating 360 surveys is not a new concept, Tom said the requests for translations will continue to grow in 2011.

“Talent and development is typically built around the company headquarters’ model,” Tom said. “Translations offer companies the ability to use the standard platform that is implemented at the headquarters and launch it at the multicultural offices.”

Push Toward Validation
In 2011, companies will request 360 Feedback that are validated, which is somewhat of a trend reversal of the past couple years. Derek said for several years many companies that used TBC’s TruScore survey hosting platform were hosting homegrown instruments.

“We’ve had more and more interesting requests for validated content,” Derek said.

So why is that? Well, that leads us to the next trend.

Emphasis on Development Plans
Tom gave me a home improvement example to explain why companies are seeking validated instruments.

Okay, so say your bathroom is due for a remodel. While this will entail major structural changes, you decided you could handle the project yourself. After all, you are an avid viewer of all HGTV home improvement shows, and if some of those people can remodel their own homes, surely you can do it, right?

You have all the tools, a plan of action, and a design of how the new bathroom will look. Fast forward to spending tons of money and time (not to mention, blood, sweat and tears) – you finally finish the job. Although, after a while you notice the tiles aren’t straight, and why doesn’t the toilet work all the time?

Maybe if you had hired a home improvement expert you would have saved time and had a functional bathroom.

The same rings true with 360 surveys. HR professionals are realizing that 360 feedback is not just a fluff HR exercise – when performed properly, managers do tend to improve and act on results. A tool that isn’t validated can result in poor ROI and just an overall bad impression of 360 feedback.

Validated surveys are important because at its core, validation uses analytic techniques that are reliable and accurate in measuring the intended goal of the survey. Based on the survey’s results, individuals and organizations can make reliable strategic decisions about where to focus their development efforts.

Companies in 2011 will place more emphasis on partnering with 360 providers that offer validated surveys, and that can also bring to the table goal setting, development plans, and other training options.

Technology Improvements
Another trend will be significant technology enhancements for web-based 360 Feedback. The technology upgrades do not mean the platforms are complicated and hard to use. Companies want a comprehensive online solution to be user-friendly and simple, as Tom said, “do more with less technology.”

Look for 360 feedback providers to offer flash tutorials, an increase in automation options, and additional online resources.

Reinvest in Talent Development
Derek said an encouraging trend in 2011 is more companies are choosing to reinvest in talent development, and there will be an overall uptick in volume for 360s.

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported there is a growing fear across organizations regarding the shortage of qualified talent as business picks up in the recovering economy. To address this fear, organizations are reinvesting in talent development programs, and investing more in these critical areas to better position themselves as they shift to growth mode.

“Instead of hiring managers from the outside, many companies will focus on building someone up into a leader from within,” Derek said.

Now it’s your turn – what trends are you seeing in your industry?