360-degree Evaluations – Part 3

In the past few days, I began an overview of 360-degree evaluations, which covered the first two items on the list below, and continued here to discuss point #3.  Today’s post will cover #4.

1)     what a 360-degree evaluation is,

2)     what the goals of a 360-degree evaluation system are,

3)     the various ways 360-degree evaluations are used,

4)     what it takes to make 360-degree evaluations effective

360-degree Evaluation: How to get it wrong

The process of performing 360-degree evaluations is time-consuming and expensive.  It represents a significant investment on the part of the company, and a poorly implemented program can cost much more than it’s worth.  As with any significant objective, try to assess the cost of the program, then make sure you implement it in a targeted and strategic way, so you get sufficient value out of the results.  Surveys that are aimed at evaluating a leader’s ability to aid the organization will bring the most value to the company.

Comprehensive training programs designed to support a 360-degree evaluation program add further cost to the implementation and maintenance of the program.   However, without the support of training, the evaluation program will likely result in ratings which are inaccurate or inconsistent.  Evaluators may not feel comfortable expressing their honest opinions, and leaders may react defensively to negative feedback, which can undermine the organization’s attempts at achieving progress.

Planning and implementing a sound 360-degree evaluation program is a large and complex undertaking that can have positive or negative impacts on an organization.  Implemented well, the program supports growth.  Implemented poorly, it costs money and negatively impacts morale.

In planning, a company needs to determine what the goals of its program are, and how evaluation results will be used.  Because of the expense and time-consuming nature of the evaluations, it is impractical to evaluate everyone using this tool.  A company must decide which staff will be evaluated and how often evaluations will occur.  A question format, rating scales, and question content must be developed.  Evaluators must be chosen, and everyone involved must be educated appropriately.  Training must include instructions for ratings, an explanation of how results will be tabulated and used, as well as how feedback will be provided to the leader being evaluated.

If all of these tasks are undertaken with thoughtful planning, a focus on the company’s strategic goals, and a commitment to the professional development of company staff, the results can be very positive.  Leaders who understand how to use the feedback provided to them may improve their skills, and may be better informed of the impact their behaviors have on others and the company as a whole.  Staff will feel they are a valuable part of the improvement process, which can create a higher degree of loyalty to the company.  Employee satisfaction is linked to higher performance and longer tenure.  Reduced costs in recruiting and training new employees, and overall improved communication across an organization all translate to higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness.

These organizational traits can help provide a competitive advantage to any company, regardless of the industry the company belongs to.  Susan Heathfield shares this advice.  The 360-degree evaluation may help a company transition from an organization that has management running in circles, to an organization that runs circles around its competition.  An effective 360-degree evaluation program fosters openness and professional development among staff, creating more effective leaders and happier and more productive employees.

Click here to read Part 2.

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