360 Degree Evaluation

360 Degree Feedback/Review System is a much abused term in many companies these days. While many Organizations and Managers effectively use the ‘jargon’ on a day to day basis, it makes me wonder how many actually perform a complete 360 Degree Review System, particularly in Performance Appraisals.

Ideally, an effective 360 Degree Review System should include 6 major parties

  1. Senior Management
  2. Immediate Supervisor
  3. Peers
  4. Subordinates.
  5. Clients
  6. Self.

Together, this 6 parties provide a complete 360 Degree view of an employees performance. It is quite disheartening to see some of the companies that boosts of a 360 Degree Performance Review System, often, conveniently forgets some of the major links in the chain, including Peers and Subordinates, and while some might even forget taking Immediate Supervisors feedbacks. What it leads to is some of the better traits of employees gets unnoticed.

Instead, if the companies were to focus on all the 6 parties, there is whole lot they could achieve. There are certain traits or skills which is more visible to certain groups more than others and that’s what makes the 360 Degree Evaluation such an effective practice if done well.

For example, Peers are in better position than anyone else to access a coworker’s skills such as team work and communication. They also probably know more about the person’s knowledge due to day to day interaction at work. In fact, studies reveal that peers are more often than not excellent predictors of future performances.

On other hand, the immediate supervisor would be an effective observer for accessing a wide range of skills including Job Knowledge, Approach to work and Quality of work. This might not be as effectively observable for members of Senior Management, whose vision would be more on metrics such as On Time Delivery Index and Quality Metrics.

Similarly, a subordinate would be in the best position to review a supervisor’s leadership and mentoring skills. Most often than not, it is the supervisor’s management skills (or lack of it) which makes the team member either an active participator or pushes him to resign.

Studies also reveal that there is a direct relation between on for how long the reviewers know the person and the rating they give. It has been observed that if the reviewer knows the employee for 1-3 years, the probability of the rating is being more accurate is high. Whereas, the chances of favoritism or personal affection influencing the review increasing as the years go by. On other hand, a person whom the reviewer knows for less than an year would not be in a position to understand the skills correctly. In short, the reviewer should have known the employee long enough to go past first impression and not long enough to generalize favorably.

One of the points held against 360 Degree Evaluation is how the employee could manipulate the feedbacks and conflicting opinions creating doubts on the accuracy. However, if practiced well, a confidential 360 Degree Evaluation program with weighted rating according to role played by the reviewer in the cycle would work much better than any other system. The key to success lies to in the companies approaching the method as a tool for positive feedback, rather than an instrument to criticize the employee.

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