Human Resource departments of many organizations will be familiar with the concept of 360 degree appraisal of employees. This appraisal is a kind of employee performance review in which managers, co-workers, subordinates, and even customers, rate the employee anonymously. This information is then incorporated into the performance review of the employee.
In a 360 degree appraisal, the work of an employee for a specific period of time, mostly a year, is discussed and critiqued by other employees. The 360 degree process is different because it obtains feedback from subordinates and co-workers, instead of just the direct supervisor. The aim of the process is to understand better how the employee is functioning as part of the team and to enhance the ways in which team members work together.
The 360 degree method of appraisal was used first in the 1940’s. Similar to the multiple points on a compass, the 360 method provides each employee the chance to garner performance feedback from his peers, supervisors, staff members, customers and co-workers. This method is a performance evaluation or appraisal tool which includes feedback from all who observe and are impacted by performance of an employee.
Typically, this tool is used for employees at senior and middle level. The complexity of their roles enables organizations to generate adequate data from all stakeholders for a relevant evaluation.
Use For Organisations
Most organizations which focus on employee development use the 360 degree tool to evaluate potential and performance of staff. It also enables employees to map their career path based on feedback. Organizations take 360 degree feedback about an employee prior to taking any major decision about career of professional.
The results of 360 degree feedback are often used by the person for planning training and development. Results are also used by some organizations to make administrative decisions like promotion or pay. In such cases, when 360 degree feedback is used for evaluation, it is termed as a 360 degree review.
360 degree employee appraisal is the most comprehensive appraisal, where feedback about performance of employee comes from all sources that come in contact with him in his job.
360 degree evaluators of an employee can be customers/ co-workers/ managers/ peers/ subordinates/ team members/suppliers, vendors. These are all who come in contact with the employee and can provide feedback about on-the-job performance of an employee. 350 degree assessment has four crucial components:
- Superior’s appraisal
- Peer appraisal
- Appraisal by subordinates
Self –appraisal offers an opportunity to employee to judge his weaknesses and strengths, his achievements and to evaluate his own performance. Appraisals by superiors are the traditional part of the appraisal system, where responsibilities of employee and his actual performance is rated by the superior.
Appraisal by subordinates provides the opportunity to evaluate employee on parameters like motivation and communication, the capacity to delegate work, qualities of leadership etc. Peers who are also known as internal customers, can offer correct feedback to find abilities of employees to work in a team and also his qualities of empathy and cooperation.
Self-appraisal causes high involvement of employees and has the biggest impact on performance and behaviour. It offers a 360 degree review of performance of employees and is regarded as most credible appraisal methods of performance.
360 degree evaluation is also a powerful development tool since, when conducted at regular intervals, it helps to keep track of the changes in perception of others about employees. A 360 degree evaluation is usually found suitable for managers as it helps judge their managing and leadership styles. This technique is being used globally for performance appraisals.
Benefits of Appraisal of 360 Degrees
- It provides a more comprehensive view towards employee performance.
- It improves credibility of performance appraisal.
- Such feedback from colleagues will help strengthen self-development.
- It raises responsibilities of employees to their customers.
- An accurate assessment can be provided by a mix of ideas.
- Opinions collated from more stakeholders are surely more persuasive.
- Evaluation of an employee must be done not only by supervisors but also by colleagues.
- Employees who lack motivation will be inspired by others.
- If additional staffs get involved in the process of performance appraisal, the culture of the organization will become more honest.
History of 360 Degree Evaluations
It is the German military which began using collection of feedback from multiple sources to judge performance during World War II. Additionally, in the same time period, other organizations implemented the use of multi-rater feedback through the concept of T-groups.
But one among the earliest uses of surveys to gather information about employees took place in the 1950’s at Esso Research and Engineering Company. From this venue, the idea of 360 degree feedback gained momentum and by 1990s, most human resources and organization development professionals understood the concept.
The problem was that collating and collecting the feedback demanded a paper based effort including lengthy delays or complex manual calculations. The first led to despair on part of practitioners, the second to a gradual decay of commitment by recipients.
Use of multi-rater feedback steadily increased in popularity, mainly due to the use of internet in conducting web based surveys. Today, most studies suggest that over one third of US companies make use of some type of multi-source feedback. Some studies even hold this estimate to be 90% of all Fortune 500 firms. In current times, services rendered by the internet have become the standard with a rising menu of beneficial features. Google, which is one of the biggest companies in the world, uses a 360 degree employee appraisal in which employee is evaluated by peers, subordinates and bosses.
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How to Use
360 Degree Assessments has become one of the few management practices which show great promise. Companies look towards such 360 degrees to enhance behaviour of leaders, provide insight during leadership development courses and aid in building more effective teams. They regard that such 360 degree feedback will either change behaviour of managers or at least increase the motivation of managers to change.
The following tips describe how to use the 360 degree approach:
- The format of the approach must be such that it is easy for manager to take action as per results.
- Focus must be on top three behaviours. Busy managers do not have time to conduct search through long and confusing reports
- There must be suggestions for manager on how exactly to change. A properly designed 360 report must include specific-‘ start-stop- continue’ suggestions from their raters, which must indicate how managers must change such behaviours.
- Don’t include comparison of employees.
These are all some facts about 360 degree employee appraisals.