360-degree assessments are wonderful tools for receiving multi-sourced feedback, it can serve as a source of data for engagement, evaluations, feedback, etc. However, it is important to know some of the pitfalls that 360-degree assessments have if they are not controlled for or formulated correctly. First, let us dive into how 360 assessments generally work.
How 360 Assessments Work
360 assessments are meant to measure competencies, by use of a survey. They are a snapshot of a company’s or individual’s overall performance, based on feedback from multiple sources. It helps identify if a company or an individual is making progress and if systems that are in place are performing well. The general setup requires first creating questions that best suit what a company is trying to measure, organizational culture, business strategy, team cohesion, engagement, etc. It is generally considered a good practice to have 360 assessments to be made anonymous. The questions for the survey need to be clear and specific to what you want to measure. Also, how to answer these questions need to be clear as well.
Typical 360 assessment need to be robust but short enough to avoid survey fatigue, they should be made so that they can be completed in under fifteen minutes. Trying to do to much with one 360 will cause employees to gloss over questions and might cause some to quickly finish the survey without paying any real attention to what is being measured. The shorter the survey the better, using 360s should be a chance for employees and leaders to share feedback in an open and honest manner.
Using data from 360 assessments help companies measure outcomes from any management systems that are in place and offer companies a way to learn more about their employees, and how management interacts with employees. It also helps individuals to learn more about what they will need to improve on or guide them for future career development. For 360 assessments to be effective its data needs to be reliable.
Issues with 360s
There are good and bad 360 review programs, most issues stem from poorly developed questions, i.e. questions that are extremely vague. But there are many other issues to consider than just ensuring your questions are formed well. 360 assessments often have a rater issue, some raters rate on different scales than others. Some of this can be fixed by giving individuals clear instructions on how to answer the survey, but still personal ideas of what warrants a “somewhat agree” versus “strongly agree”, or the “neutral rater” or the rater that merely does not rate.
The 360-assessment rater issue can be solved in unique ways, but it requires some measuring on how raters’ rate, and then applying some analysis on raters.
360 assessments need to maintain confidentiality, if confidentiality is not maintained the data collected may not be reliable. For data to be reliable, employees need to be able to answer openly and honestly without worry about their answers.
360 review processes need follow-up after the reviews are conducted and the data has been processed. The data needs to be openly shared; it should not just sit on a desk in the HR department. 360 review processes are also not a once a year or even a one and done process, it needs to be built into a regular management process. The power of 360 assessments is the ability to track changes in behaviors, or work cultures based on management decisions. Quarterly follow-ups on 360 assessments and planning based on its data needs to be revisited often.
360 programs allow companies to help improve by recognizing both strengths and weaknesses of management systems. When they are conducted correctly, they can be a fantastic tool, when done used poorly they can do more harm than good. beepHR equips with the 360-degree assessment function. If you have any questions, please contact us.