360 Degree Assessment

by Julia Miller

Making 360 degree feedback work for you

A 360 degree feedback tool should always be clearly placed in context and linked to your business objectives.

Avoiding some common pitfalls

  • Always make sure you use skilled facilitators, as poor feedback can lead to poor use of the results.
  • Don’t cut corners: remember to spend time briefing everyone involved, particularly the facilitators, and make sure that you have enough trained facilitators to ensure that feedback is both prompt and productive.
  • Make sure that the administration of the system is user-friendly.
  • Make the objectives clear at the start and keep them in mind throughout the process.
  • Involve all your key stakeholders and beware of the dangers of insufficient communication.
  • Do not use 360 with someone who is new to the organisation or where there are not enough raters.

Key points

  • Remember that people can take feedback very personally.
  • Do not have too high expectations: 360 will not change behaviour on its own and the 360 feedback is therefore only one stage of an on-going process. There needs to be follow-up to engender behavioural change.

Some tips for success

  • Keep your promises on confidentiality: the report is always confidential to the participant.
  • Keep your promises on anonymity; encourage participants to give honest and specific feedback.
  • Hold the participant and their manager accountable for creating and implementing any subsequent development plan.
  • Provide individual coaching to assist people in interpreting the 360 feedback.
  • Clearly link the 360 degree process to other performance management systems within your team or organisation, such as regular appraisals and personal development plans.
  • Ensure there are checks and balances to ensure fair rating: for example, by developing a set of best practice guidelines for the 360 degree and evaluating your process against these guidelines, paying particular attention to confidentiality and trust. It is often a good idea to have an independent person available for questions or complaints, which they will treat in confidence.
  • Make the 360 instrument relevant to your organisation by targeting those competencies which are related to your strategic business needs.
  • Keep evaluating!