How does this compare with other performance appraisal methods?
360-degree feedback is one of the most widely used employee assessments today. Its popularity has increased dramatically with the growth of the web-based assessment tools that has made implementation easier, cheaper and faster. The purpose of the 360-degree feedback is to assist each individual to understand the strengths, weaknesses and development needs to perform the job at an optimum level. The organisations should have a clear understanding as to why they are using the 360-degree feedback and should follow the right steps to successfully implement the process. I have personally undergone 360-degree feedback assessment early this year and thought it was a waste of time for the reasons discussed under ‘what can go wrong?’ in his paper. What is 360-degree feedback?
The purpose of the 360-degree feedback is to assist each individual to understand the strengths, weaknesses and development needs to perform the job better. This method is predominantly being used by middle to senior management level employees with the opportunity to receive performance feedback from a range of colleagues including, supervisor, team members (or direct reports) and peers. It also includes a self-assessment and feedback from external sources such as customers and suppliers or other interested stakeholders. 360-degree feedback can also be a useful development tool for people who are not in a management role. We can argue that a ‘non-manager’ 360-degree assessment is not measuring feedback since there are no direct reports, but my extensive reading on this suggest that the same principles can be still apply and can be used to help employee be more effective in their current roles and guide them to move into a management role. The results from 360-degree feedback are used to plan training and development needs of the employees. Results are also used by some employers to make decisions such as pay or promotion. The German Military first began gathering feedback from multiple sources in order to evaluate performance during World War II (Fleenor & Prince, 1997). Gradually, the idea of 360-degree feedback gained momentum and by the 1990s most Human Resources and Organisation Development professionals stated using it widely. Rationale for using 360-degree feedback
There are number of rationales for using the 360-degree feedback. In a knowledge-based economy, it is increasingly important for organisations to understand the competencies needed in the workforce for business success and then develop those competencies on an ongoing basis. 360-degree feedback has several advantages over other assessment methods that make it ideal for these purposes (Tornow & London, 1998). These advantages include: Accuracy
Arguably, 360-degree feedback is the only assessment method many organisations can rely on to evaluate the capabilities of their people. 360-degree feedback surveys are more accurate for several reasons. Firstly, multiple ratings are obviously more accurate than a single person's view, as long as the raters are properly selected and trained. Secondly, ratings from different perspectives (self, manager, peers, direct reports, etc.) provide a more complete picture of the participant's capabilities than just one perspective. Thirdly, the anonymity in providing feedback typically assures honest and accurate ratings. Acceptance
A wide range of research consistently shows that 360-degree feedback is more accepted by participants than supervisor evaluations alone and is more likely to lead to specific developmental actions (Lepsinger & Lucia, 1997). The motivational component here is particularly important, because no matter how accurate the feedback is, little will be gained unless it results in positive change and development. Richer understanding of performance
Providing feedback from different perspectives...