Many of us appreciate a well taken photo, but if you could have a panoramic view of that same photo, would you not “awww” a little louder? Same for performance evaluations – they are a lot more meaningful and valuable when you are shown the complete picture.
What is a 360° evaluation?
Similarly to a panoramic photo, a 360-degree evaluation assesses an employee from multiple angles and perspectives, in order to provide a more complete picture of the individual’s overall performance. Subordinates, peers, supervisors and sometimes even clients, suppliers or other stakeholders are asked to complete an evaluation of an employee, generally through a standard questionnaire. The employee is also asked to complete a self-evaluation to compare their perception with that of others. This performance management tool gained popularity in the 90s, but has become even more popular today due to simplified data compilation and a greater appreciation of its benefits.
Why use 360° evaluations?
While typical evaluations are useful to allow the employee’s immediate supervisor to provide them with feedback, there are a multitude of additional benefits to doing a 360° evaluation. To name a few, 360° evaluations provide:
- The ability to gain insight from various sources; therefore are highly valid and credible
- Improved feedback because they tend to be more thorough, impartial and objective
- The identification of development opportunities due to recognition of strengths and weaknesses
- The recognition of what training sources or programs are needed
- Improved self-awareness
- Increased morale and team spirit because the evaluation promotes dialogue and illustrates that the business encourages growth and supports development.
Who should do 360° evaluations?
These evaluations are more common at the management level; however in many companies, employees, board members, or other stakeholders also receive this type of evaluation. In fact, anyone in the company that is required to collaborate with various individuals to carry out their work could benefit from a 360° evaluation.
How are 360° evaluations completed?
The questionnaire should take no more than 15 minutes to complete and is normally composed of short, single idea statements, such as: “The Manager demonstrates initiative”. These statements are evaluated using multiple choice responses, such as a scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. A space for open-ended comments is also advised.
Evaluations can be done in various formats using different tools. They could be simple paper questionnaires or a hosted electronic solution. Essentially, the ideal method is the one that best meets your needs and your budget. Keep in mind that at the very beginning, the purpose and process of conducting 360° evaluations must be communicated to both evaluators and those being evaluated, and that anonymity and confidentiality are ensured. Oftentimes, using an external firm to administer the process makes this more evident. Finally, if the entire 360° evaluation process is to be successful, a development plan should be prepared by the individual and reviewed and followed up on by the immediate supervisor.
When to put into practice a 360° evaluation process?
In order to monitor the participant’s progress, it is recommended to do one every two years. It is also a good idea, in some situations to perform this type of appraisal in conjunction with the usual performance evaluations. For example, have 360° evaluations completed prior to annual evaluation meetings in order to present and discuss the results simultaneously. A 360° evaluation compliments the one-on-one discussion as it acts as the voice of the collected perceptions.
We’ve come full circle!
Now that you have a detailed view of the complete picture, you can better evaluate the pertinence and efficacy of implementing 360° evaluations in your company. Without a doubt, your employees and your organization will quickly reap the rewards of this valuable performance management tool.
Summer 2013 (download the PDF)