OBJECTIVES: Multi-source feedback (MSF) is a widely used developmental tool for leaders in organisations including those dealing with health care. This study was performed to examine the effects of an MSF process on developmental plans made by leaders of postgraduate medical education (PGME) in clinical departments. METHODS: An MSF instrument was developed based on literature on the subject and previous investigations. The instrument was used by consultants responsible for PGME in clinical departments (CREs). Apart from CREs' self-ratings, MSF responses were collected from heads of departments, consultants and young doctors-in-training. The MSF process included individual feedback as well as guidance on drafting developmental plans for both the department and the CREs. Themes emerging in the developmental plans were analysed and compared with the areas in need of improvement identified by the MSF process. RESULTS: The MSF instrument was found to be feasible, valid and reliable (Cronbach's alpha = 0.98). The study included 52 CREs from various specialties and 498 MSF respondents. The response rate was 84%. Low ratings and negative gaps between others' ratings and self-ratings were identified for both management and leadership performance areas. The developmental plans mainly focused on management initiatives, whereas plans for the development of leadership performance were few. Areas rated low by all respondents were scarcely represented in CREs' developmental plans. CONCLUSIONS: An MSF process might in itself lead to development in administrative areas. However, MSF carried through as a single stand-alone procedure was not sufficient to foster plans for the development of leadership performance.
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