The 360-degree assessment is a way to gather feedback about an employee’s performance based on the perceptions of different professionals in the company, and even customers or suppliers.
The 360-degree assessment is a very useful form of feedback for organizations. You may already know the power of this practice when done well, but it is interesting to understand how to go further.
This assessment is a people management tool that favors the improvement of employees’ performance, also contributing to the success of the business .
As we will see later, the ‘360 degrees’ does not exist without a reason. In fact, it suggests a very complete assessment methodology , although its application is not necessarily complex.
What is a 360 degree assessment?
The 360 degree assessment, or 360 feedback , is a performance evaluation tool that considers the perceptions of the employee’s leader, their colleagues, subordinates, in addition to the perception of the employee himself .
It is because it is so complete that it justifies the term “360 degrees”. In this regard, it is worth knowing that some organizations also include feedback from customers, suppliers and other parties.
Note, therefore, that we are talking about a form of evaluation that goes beyond the usual ones, in which, in general, only the direct leadership evaluates each employee. Still, among the points analyzed are:
- Technical abilities;
- behavioral profile ;
- leadership and others.
All this because its objective is to direct the continuous development of the professionals who are part of the organization.
In the view , a reference in the field of business administration, the methodology is a way of evaluating the general context involving each individual .
Thus, what is presented is the possibility of gathering plural information that help to understand better and more assertively how each employee has performed in the exercise of their functions .
How to take the 360 degree assessment?
In addition to knowing what 360-degree assessment is, you certainly want to find out how this assessment is done. We mentioned before that, although complete, this methodology is not necessarily complex .
It is true that different steps are involved, from planning to post-performance assessment, but you will see below that there is not a high degree of difficulty.
The first time it is applied is naturally more laborious, but if done well, it paves the way for this performance evaluation to be repeated at other times as well.
With that in mind, let’s go through the following process for taking the 360-degree performance review:
Step 1: Planning
For a people management tool to be used successfully, planning is always essential. This part can define the direction of the entire assessment, so it needs to be done well.
It is necessary to define who will be evaluated and what; that is, define what you want to measure in relation to the performance or skills of a professional .
In addition, the evaluation forms must be written , focusing on the evaluated employee, the reason for the feedback and their relationship with each person participating in the process.
Therefore, it is important to think strategically about the questions that will be part of the questionnaire. It is essential to realize that these questions need to be impartial, that is, they should not induce the evaluator to any specific answer.
Finally, the action plan needs to be drawn up. One way to do this is using the 5W2H methodology .
Step 2: Training
The application of the 360-degree assessment depends on employee engagement . For everything to work out, the use of the tool provides for its explanation.
This is because the parties involved need to understand their role well and know what the rules and possible expectations are .
Keep in mind that you need to talk to both the evaluators and the evaluators, as self-assessment is also part of the process .
Everyone needs to know about the importance of privacy and secrecy . The idea is that one assessment does not “contaminate” the other and, of course, that the feedbacks are sincere without the risk of generating any animosity between those involved.
Likewise, those involved must understand how to do the assessments correctly. It is up to the company to guide that personal issues are left aside, giving space to critical thinking.
Step 3: Selection of reviewers
The entire organization knows when the 360-degree assessment is underway. However, not all people participate in evaluation processes fully.
Therefore, one of the steps is to select who will be the evaluators of each employee .
There is no rule , there is a recommendation that eight to ten evaluators be chosen for each process, aiming to make it more reliable.
To make this selection, HR can count on the help of the evaluated professional, requesting a list of people who can make up the group.
The decision, however, must be made by HR itself and must consider the assessment capacity and the level of interaction with the employee.
Understand the role of those involved
It is easier to think about this selection of evaluators for 360 feedback if we highlight the role of each one involved in the process. Look:
- Evaluated : in addition to receiving feedback , this professional also performs his/her self-assessment. Their perception must be compared to those of the others involved so that points of convergence and divergence relevant to development can be identified;
- leader : someone who provides direct leadership over the appraisee needs to participate in the process. This is the case of a coordinator, for example;
- subordinates : if the appraised person is someone in a leadership position, the situation changes a little and members of your team must be invited to the appraisal;
- Colleagues : the group of evaluators must also have the presence of colleagues of the subject;
These professionals will be able to better assess the interpersonal skills and the impact that the person evaluated has on the team’s results;
- Clients : it may also be interesting to resort to clients, if there is this direct contact between them and the person being assessed. The idea is to know more deeply about their behavior, proactivity and ability to solve problems, for example;
- Suppliers : the presence of suppliers follows the same premise as the presence of customers. The choice for representatives of one group or the other – or even both – depends on the existence or not of a relationship between these people and the person being evaluated;
- HR : Finally, the Human Relations department appears. Not to evaluate, but to gather the answers, analyze them and create coherent and constructive feedback to present to the evaluated.
In this regard, it is always worth remembering that the objective of the 360-degree assessment is the continuous development of employees.
Step 4: Execution
With the questionnaire prepared and the training applied, everything is ready to carry out the 360-degree assessment. So, it’s time to distribute the questionnaire stressing the importance of following the rules.
Once the questionnaires are completed, it is time to collect and analyze the responses to identify key points that are relevant to the practitioner and the organization.
Some examples of key points are: average performance, skills gaps and significant differences in the evaluators’ perception.
The outcome of this step has two crucial points: providing constructive feedback to those evaluated and developing a report with the general results .
Step 4: Evaluation
The application of the 360 degree assessment needs to be evaluated as well. The objective is to allow the company to identify any flaws or weaknesses in the process in order to make the necessary adjustments.
As we’ve already mentioned, collecting this 360 feedback can become a regular feature in the organization. For that, there are some points that deserve attention :
- check if the evaluators understood and complied with the guidelines and rules, especially the one that asks for confidentiality in the process;
- check if there were delays or other problems that hindered the evolution of the evaluation;
- consider the participation of those involved;
- analyze whether the goals outlined for the 360-degree assessment were achieved.
Step 5: Adjustment
Based on the analyses, it is possible to think about the necessary adjustments so that the 360-degree assessment becomes more efficient . Something that also depends on creating patterns based on the hits detected.
An important tip is to collect feedback from those involved and learn about their perception of the positive and negative points of the applied evaluation.
What are the benefits of 360-degree assessment?
360 degree benchmarking has different benefits. As we pointed out, it is a very complete model and, therefore, it stands out for offering feedback from different perspectives .
This makes the evaluated collaborator have a more adequate direction for their development . Furthermore, it avoids conflicts because it does away with the idea of an evaluation that pits the professional against his leader.
Also, it is worth remembering that all parties interested in the organization’s business can participate . Something that further enriches the assessment, providing more insights that can benefit the professional and the company itself.
Based on 360 feedback , the employee and the company can come together to assess growth opportunities, identify potential and improve the career plan.
This combination of factors can lead to increased motivation and reduced turnover . A feedback well done is a powerful tool to engage the employee. Therefore, the evaluation can contribute to the retention of good professionals and their productivity.
Furthermore, considering that several of the professionals are evaluated, the organization gradually creates an increasingly qualified staff .
With all this, to summarize, we can list some points. Look:
- the 360-degree assessment allows each employee to understand how they are seen by colleagues and other people involved , knowing their qualities and areas for improvement;
- the feedbacks are solid because they are anchored in the points of convergence of the evaluations . Thus, they are more likely to instigate the desire for the pursuit of self-development;
- the assessment allows leaders and HRs to work with employees to create a development program , defining goals and strategies to achieve them;
- all employees can answer questions about others, which gives them the opportunity to contribute to their individual evolution .
360 Assessment Challenges
It is true that there are also disadvantages, or rather, points that deserve attention, including for HR to think carefully about how to apply this tool while still in the planning stage.
The main challenge is to avoid a very bureaucratic and ineffective evaluation .
Let’s understand better?
If the application of the questionnaire does not have the support of technology , the process can become time consuming and increase the level of bureaucracy in the process. Also, if the questions are not well formulated, the answers can be very disjointed and not lead to any conclusions.
Still, the 360-degree evaluation demands a very critical analysis by the one who compiles the results . As much as the evaluators are well guided, it is impossible that their analysis is not subjective.
Thus, the analysis of the results must consider that not everything that is said reflects the full reality . It is for this reason that it is necessary to seek points of convergence to support feedbacks and investigate significant divergences.
There is another point regarding the possibility of the evaluators joining forces to harm the evaluated collaborator. Hopefully, such a situation is not common .
If it does, however, it is good to keep in mind that it could indicate a more serious problem that HR needs to investigate to better understand and try to avoid injustice.
Keep in mind that these challenges are not to suggest that 360-degree assessment is not adopted. In fact, we are talking about points that can be minimized if the tool is adopted strategically .
A good tip is to consider both the general organizational climate and a team, for example, as well as the company culture before applying the assessment. All this, remembering to reinforce the guidelines and rules with those involved.
When to take the 360 degree assessment?
There are different types of performance appraisals and, regardless of the choice, it is interesting to apply them periodically .
Each company will define the ideal frequency. An understanding that must go through errors and successes until the need for reassessments is more clearly defined .
In this regard, it is important to allow time for feedback from the previous assessment to have time to yield practical results.
If the leadership designed an action plan with a certain employee, for example, it makes no sense to repeat the assessment before the changes begin to take hold .
Note that application cycles can vary from case to case and HR needs to figure out the best way to manage this so that the assessment remains viable.
Still, it is important to emphasize that a certain level of maturity is necessary for the 360-degree assessment to be applied in the company. If we are talking about professionals who still know each other very little or a newcomer, it may not be possible to evaluate them well
In short, the organization needs to be strategic in defining when and how often to apply the assessment.
Therefore, it is necessary to rescue its objective and functioning in order to understand the best moment to get valid answers.
How to apply the 360 degree assessment?
When we talk about the challenges of 360-degree assessment, we indicate that the level of bureaucracy can increase if there is no technology support in the process .
Thus, the company can use an online form to present the questions and collect responses from those involved . Something that can even facilitate the invitation through a simple link sharing.
In any case, the application also depends on the definition of a deadline for the answers to be given . And, as each stakeholder can respond at their own time, it is always crucial to reinforce the importance of confidentiality.
Also, to correctly apply the 360-degree assessment, you need to understand how to design it strategically based on your questions and response models. That’s what we’ll see next.
Define the most appropriate questions
We previously advised that questions should not induce the evaluator to an answer. However, this does not mean that the questions should be vague or comprehensive .
Differently from that, it is important that the questions are clear and lead to direct answers in order to be able to draw something concrete and useful from the assessment. Check out some examples below:
- Does the employee know how to work well in a team?
- Does the professional have a leadership spirit?
- Does the employee’s performance comply with our organizational culture?
- Does the professional seek to constantly improve?
Do you understand how the questions are clear and designed to lead to an equally clear answer, but without inducing the evaluation of those involved?
Important : the questions we present are merely examples. To apply the 360-degree assessment, you need to define your own questions with the defined objective in mind.
Create an Answer Template
In addition to thinking through the questions, it is also necessary to create a good response model that allows the evaluators to present their perceptions in a clear and objective way.
For multiple choice, it is possible to go beyond “yes” or “no”. To get more accurate feedbacks, it is more interesting to opt for answers such as “always”, “often”, “sometimes”, “rarely” and “never”, for example.
We’ll see a little more about Q&A later when we introduce some possible 360-degree assessment models.
What to do with the 360 degree assessment result?
It is much more interesting to understand what 360 degree evaluation is when you also understand what to do with the result obtained from the analysis of the results .
In this regard, the first point is to keep in mind the objective of helping the development of employees and what led the organization to carry out this assessment.
To get the best out of the results, it is possible to invest in some stocks. See below:
Meeting with leaders
After collecting the data, it is interesting for HR to meet with leaders and managers to discuss the information and only then define a broader view of the results obtained.
Based on this conclusion, it is worth taking the opportunity to define how the approach to each evaluated employee should be.
Communication to employees
Having in hand reports of the 360-degree evaluation carried out, it is necessary to pass on the feedback to the evaluated employees. Something that must be done individually.
Positive points and improvement points should be pointed out, with space for discussion about the results . It is interesting to give the appraisee the opportunity to reflect on and even take a stand against the insights received.
Mapping challenges and opportunities
Furthermore, it is essential that a guide be drawn towards the development of the evaluated employees .
Together with each worker, it is time to identify the main challenges or difficulties to be addressed. Likewise, it is time to understand where the best growth opportunities lie.
In addition to favoring the employee’s future, this interaction serves to indicate that the company cares about the evolution of its professionals.
Planning for changes and improvements
Finally, it is interesting to create an action plan or an Individual Development Plan (PDI) with guidelines that must be followed by each employee with a view to their professional growth.
This plan should indicate changes to be made, skills to be worked on and improvements to be sought.
What are the 360 degree assessment models?
There are different 360 degree benchmarking models. We chose to present the top three in a simple way so that you can more clearly understand this tool and know your options. Check out:
The lean model doesn’t have that name for no reason. By following it, the company develops an assessment with short, objective questions with three possible answers for each topic addressed.
It is possible to answer with “never”, “sometimes” and “always” to questions such as:
- proactivity : does the employee show initiative?
- organization : is the worker organized in their activities?
- flexibility : does the employee find it easy to adapt to new situations?
- leadership : does the professional demonstrate a leadership profile?
- work in teams: workers often collaborate with your teammates?
Given the possibilities for answers, the collection of information is more objective and simple to carry out, although it can also be more limited .
In the direct model, there are five possible answers for more subjective questions , but which nevertheless are useful for a good 360-degree assessment.
The idea is to choose answers such as “never”, “little”, “sometimes”, “a lot” and “almost always” for questions such as:
- does the professional communicate clearly?
- Does the employee accept opinions different from yours with ease and respect?
- is the worker reluctant to accept the decisions made by the team?
- Does the employee give up easily in the face of a challenge or difficulty?
- Does the professional know how to use the company’s technology and resources in favor of his/her productivity?
In general, this model is more suitable when the defined objective is to evaluate ethical issues in order to identify the level of professionalism and commitment of the evaluated employee .
Finally, we come to the complex model. There are three answer options and two questions per category , creating an ideal assessment guide for companies that have more aggressive goals and, therefore, need to maintain high performance at all times.
In this case, it is possible to answer with “never”, “sometimes” and “always” to questions such as:
- Responsibilities : Does the worker comply with the deadlines established for their tasks? Do you deliver while maintaining the company’s quality standards?
- communication : can the professional communicate clearly in conflict situations? Do you communicate transparently, without hiding information?
- Teamwork : Does the employee cooperate with their colleagues and open themselves to different opinions? Does it work to encourage everyone’s participation instead of generating conflicts?
- leadership : Is the employee able to influence and motivate teammates? Do you understand the diversity of profiles and know how to instigate the best in each one?