Gone are the days when only an employee’s supervisor reported on their subordinate’s performance and areas of growth during relatively formal, rigid performance reviews. Many companies now recognize the value of all-around feedback for employee development. They’ve begun to cultivate a feedback-rich workplace environment, to assess and improve employee performance and build a strong, cohesive team.
So if you’re going to examine employees’ work from different angles, consider using a 360-degree feedback assessment. In this article, you’ll learn how iSpring can help you capture a comprehensive, authentic picture of leadership and employee performance in your company.
What Is 360-Degree Feedback Assessment?
Also known as a 360-degree assessment and 360-degree performance appraisal, 360-degree feedback assessment is a method of evaluating employee performance through feedback from their subordinates, peers, supervisors, and self-assessment. It works like a survey that focuses on people’s perceptions of one another’s soft skills and communication styles, and it helps evaluate teamwork, culture fit, leadership, and more.
A 360-degree survey contains statements that prompt respondents to evaluate a person’s competency according to a chosen rating scale. Here is a way questions in the assessment form might look:
Benefits of 360-Degree Feedback Assessment
Competency assessment. You can assess exactly the way employees enact their workplace competencies in actual work situations.
Enhanced credibility. You receive feedback from several respondents, which increases the credibility of the assessment.
Reality check. You can compare the employee’s self-assessment with other people’s perspectives. This also helps identify discrepancies between a manager’s intentions and the employee’s perceptions.
Diversity of opinions. 360-degree feedback might include various points of view that all contribute to an average score.
Increased self-awareness. Employees can compare their self-rating with the assessments of others and learn what they can improve.
So if 85% of Fortune 500 companies use 360-degree feedback, isn’t that a good reason to try it in your organization?
Why Do You Need a 360-Degree Feedback Assessment?
360-degree feedback can address a variety of HR/L&D department concerns. It helps in these areas:
- Assess team members’ soft skills
- Identify employees with high potential
- Provide employees with anonymous feedback on their job performance
- Identify who needs which training
- Assess managers’ leadership competencies
- Measure team morale
For team leaders and department heads, the results of a 360-degree assessment can provide clues about aspects of their teams that are hard to pin down. Specifically, they equip the leader to:
- Identify who is a better or worse fit for a specific position
- Check self-esteem levels
- Ensure that people’s perceptions of a particular employee all line up
- See how this team looks, compared to others
- Gauge a team’s strengths and weaknesses
Jack Zenger, a renowned expert in leadership development consultancy, says, “Feedback, when delivered in a positive, constructive way with the sole intent of being helpful, is an extremely valuable gift.” It’s important to point out that 360-degree feedback is a tool that’s only useful for employee and team development—not for compensation management or as a reason to fire someone. With that in mind, let’s look into the process of launching a 360-degree feedback assessment, step-by-step.
How to Conduct a 360-Degree Feedback Assessment
For the successful implementation of a 360-degree assessment, you need to think of it as a project and administer it from beginning to end. Follow these seven steps to make it easy to manage and get more out of the assessment results.
Step 1. Do the prep work
Some prep is essential to set up the survey for success. Here are the main points to consider, based on important questions you need to ask yourself.
Set the objectives
Why do I need to launch a 360-degree assessment? Who will be assessed? Your objectives might be:
- We need this to collect feedback on potential executives, to make informed decisions in the future.
- We want to aggregate the data to create personal development plans.
- We need this assessment to let employees see where they stand and have an outside perspective.
360-degree feedback emerged as a way to assess a company’s management and leadership. Over time, however, it became a strong development tool for people not in managerial positions. It’s an appropriate assessment tool for employees at any level.
Plan the implementation
Are you going to conduct the assessment internally, or seek an appropriate service provider? The advantage of administering the assessment in-house is that you can customize it to your business needs and save on external services.
Also, consider whether to make it an online or offline assessment. Online surveys are more convenient to take, and they allow greater reporting capabilities. Conducting a 360-degree feedback assessment online is a surefire way to escape the extra workload that can stretch out over months.
Who can access the team’s results? It’s a widely accepted practice to have only one person (the organizer) able to access the assessment report. The basic rule is that the person who has been assessed cannot see who has given them a certain score. This will ensure a friendly atmosphere within the team and eliminate potential interpersonal conflicts.
Step 2. Develop a competency model
A competency model is a framework according to which respondents assess a person’s workplace competencies. You should prepare a list of these competencies specific to what you want to evaluate about your team. Competencies will differ depending on position, team, or even company; a competency may be an important behavior in company A but be less significant for company B.
The complicated part is choosing the real indicators of top performance that matter for your company’s success. Identify the qualities you see as important for a certain position and role. It’s important to base this choice on research or empirical evidence, not assumptions.
Step 3. Choose the rating scale and create items
To assess a specific competency, respondents need a rating scale and a list of statements (items) that can be checked. For example, we can write “John handles constructive criticism calmly,” and then ask raters to assess it according to a scale ranging from Seldom to Very often; also include a Don’t know option.
Below is an example of items that can be helpful in assessing teamwork skills.
Preparing a well-thought-out survey will be easier if you consider the following tips.
Balance the number of questions
If your survey is too long, raters can become tired, which may affect the quality of the answers. In our opinion, the preferred number of statements on an assessment is no more than fifty items.
Put it in simple words
Craft more concrete statements so the raters won’t need to think twice and question the meaning of every phrase.
Never say never
Also never say always. We’d love to say that we never get angry or that we’re always on time, but that’s not completely true for anyone.
Add the Don’t know option
Raters still may get frustrated when facing a certain question. Give them some space and allow for Don’t know. This helps avoid involuntarily false assessments.
Do some shuffling
When the statements are too predictable and apparently only positive or negative, raters can start answering on autopilot. Shuffle the statements so it takes a little time to process things and avoids an expected response given blindly.
Recurring statements help detect discrepancies in answers and insincerity. This allows you to enhance the credibility of the survey.
Step 4. Select the respondents
You need to choose raters from the employee’s supervisors, peers, and subordinates, and also ask the employee for a self-assessment. The raters should work on tasks together with the person being assessed and communicate with them directly. To make answers credible, only those employees who have been working with each other for at least six months can assess and be assessed.
Note: The recommended number of respondents may vary, but common practice is to invite about a dozen raters.
Step 5. Hold outreach activities
A 360-degree assessment is a complex project, and talent professionals should communicate its value to the staff and provide any needed guidance. Organize a meeting to reassure the staff that they aren’t being put at risk and can share their thoughts openly and anonymously. Also, encourage them not to inflate (or degrade) ratings to make each other look better or worse.
Note: After the assessment is done, you should train those employees who have been assessed in how to interpret their results and enjoy the fullest benefit.
Step 6. Launch your 360-degree assessment online
Traditional 360-degree feedback assessments often entailed excessive paperwork and were quite messy. Moving them online has been a game-changer in the training and development industry. Moreover, 360-degree feedback activities are now integrated into some training tracking and training management systems, so you can have employee training and performance reviews in one place.
Beyond its cool training features, for example, iSpring Learn is an LMS that features a “360-Degree Performance Appraisal” module. It allows you to conduct multi-rater assessments quickly and easily. Simply create a survey with the built-in competency builder and assign it to employees online. The system collects all the data and prepares detailed LMS reports.
Why conduct a 360-Degree Performance Appraisal in iSpring Learn?
- Enjoy flexibility. You’re able to align assessment with your business needs and use any competency model that suits your purpose.
- Set up specifications. You can create a separate competency model for any position or department and focus on the most important skills in each case.
- Preserve anonymity. Employees won’t see who reviewed their job. The results of the survey will be available to LMS admins only.
- Automate everything. Create a rating scale and statements, assign this survey to your personnel, and receive results, all seamlessly.
- See clear reports. Detailed reports about each employee’s and team performance will help in preparing individual development plans.
- Do it all without outsourcing. Now you can manage your corporate training and performance appraisals within a single learning platform.
Watch this video to learn how to launch a 360-degree performance appraisal in iSpring Learn:
iSpring Learn lets you see each employee’s results as strengths and growth areas on a competency radar chart. The system automatically compiles these interactive radar charts.
A competency radar shows the difference between self-perception and other people’s views. A graph indicates either the self-assessment scoring or the scoring received from the management, peers, or direct reports, respectively, in different colors.
Competency radar charts in iSpring Learn clearly indicate the competencies that should be improved when communicating with a particular group of colleagues. Using the chart as a reference can be helpful for an employee—and you can print it for them from iSpring Learn or share it as a PDF.
Step 7. Reflect on the results
Don’t omit or underestimate this step. Even when the implementation is complete, your talent professional team should follow up on the assessment results during individual sessions and prepare customized sets of recommendations for employees. In some companies, teams discuss anonymous survey results together, to reflect on group performance.
Based on the results, you can now map out employee development strategies. Expected behavior change is much more likely when accompanied by training, so it’s worthwhile to include soft skills training in the action plan. To map it, evaluate your training needs and then match them with the objectives you pursued in the 360-degree feedback. Proper soft-skills training will promote employee self-development and improvement in the areas that need growth.
360-degree feedback is a comprehensive way to assess your employees’ workplace competencies from a variety of perspectives. Now you can conduct it in your iSpring Learn account; plan the survey, and 360-Degree Performance Appraisal from iSpring will do the rest. Request a 30-day free trial now!