Is it 360 degree appraisal or feedback?

Why do some people talk about “360 degree appraisal” instead of “360 degree feedback”. Are they talking about the same thing or are they different.

Well they are actually different. I’ve talked a fair bit about 360 degree feedback already, so let’s dive into 360 degree appraisal in this post.

My definition for 360 degree appraisal
The use of 360 degree feedback techniques to measure or rate a person’s achievements for one or more performance objectives.

This is different to 360 degree feedback which focuses on giving a person feedback on their capabilities using things like competencies, values and behaviours.

When to use 360 degree appraisal
When it comes to setting goals and objectives they have to be measurable to be effective. See writing SMART objectives for the reasons why.

But sometimes it’s difficult to work out how you can measure the outcome for an objective. For example, what do you do if there are no systems in place or if the objective just doesn’t lend itself to a hard measurement. What if there is an appropriate measure but the cost would make it impractical.

What do you do? If you don’t have a quality measure, the objective is pretty much a waste of time.

The answer is 360 degree appraisal. Use feedback from the manager, peers, direct reports and customers to rate the achievement.

An example of when it could be used
Let’s say you want to increase the number of people in a work unit who can provide a specific type of service to other groups. How would you measure it?

You could just measure the achievement based on the number of people trained to provide the service. But that’s really only measuring the action of training those people, not the outcome of people who can provide the service. Ideally you would want to measure the quality and quantity of the service.

The benefit of 360 degree appraisal here is that you can ask two types of people to appraise the outcome:

  • People affected by the service.
  • People who observe how well the service is provided.

When not to use 360 degree appraisal
If there’s a hard measure available and it’s cost effective, use it in preference over 360 degree appraisal. Especially if that measure comes from a system and you can gauge progress throughout the year using it.

For example, measuring someone on a sales objective using 360 degree appraisal would be inappropriate. Using the hard measure of their actual sales in money terms is much more effective at getting the end result you want.

David’s questions
Getting back to David, one of his questions was . . .

How do I set SMART objectives that I can clearly link to the business bottom line without necessarily having the clarity of business goals or resolution of metrics?

Something you can take away from this post is that 360 degree appraisal is an option you now have when there’s little or no resolution of metrics.

Next post…
We’re yet to look at:


About Jon Windust

Jon Windust is the CEO at Cognology – Talent management software for the future of work. Over 250 businesses use Cognology to power cutting-edge talent strategy. View all posts by Jon Windust

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