360 Degree Performance Appraisals

Friday, September 6, 2013 - 07:51

By Leon Gettler

A 360 degree performance appraisal has become a standard evaluation of an employee’s job performance by all those around him or her. It involves analysis of their recent successes, failures, strengths and weaknesses and looks at how suitable they would be for promotion or further training. A 360 degree appraisal also involves self-assessment by the employee. Generally, they work best for businesses where employees regularly collaborate or work in teams.

That said, 360 degree performance appraisals can’t work if they’re not connected to the organisation’s strategy or if people receiving the anonymous feedback have no recourse. They won’t work if people have no way of understanding the feedback and if they get no assistance processing it. They whole process is a waste of time if people have no one to ask for clarification if the comments they receive are unclear or if they can’t get more information about particular ratings and what they’re based on.

In other words, 360 degree performance appraisals need to be carefully managed. Managers need to be on their toes to make it work.

According to Forbes, 360 degree performance appraisals fail when the boss doesn’t get involved or discounts the program’s importance. As a rule, 360 programs driven by HR without much attention from the boss are not effective.

They also fail when the questions are too vague and complex instead of straightforward and when people offer comments that are really personal rather than constructive, or when the feedback is given and then quickly forgotten.

Other problems include a lack of confidentiality and when managers focus on people’s weaknesses instead of the strengths that have been identified in the process.

The Houston Chronicle says companies undertaking this process need to put in the time and effort training each evaluator. If they don’t, it will fall apart.

“Failure to properly train feedback providers will most likely result in inaccurate results or a total failure of the process to produce relevant information. In addition, companies should have the swath of evaluators for each manager picked by an outside human resources associate or an outside firm.”

Leadership experts Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman say managers have to make sure they are measuring the right skills. Also, the participants and people giving the feedback have to know why they are doing this and how it will be used to develop people.

Managers have to create something that takes just 15 to 20 minutes to complete. They also have to keep in mind that everyone doesn’t need to be good at the same things.
They need to present each person’s results in a way that enables them to digest them constructively and use the data to create a personal plan of development. They should also design a final report to help participants see how they compare to those in the top quartile and in the top 10 per cent. That would make them aim high.