Category Archives: competencies

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:


12 steps to a great 360 degree feedback process

Want to implement 360 degree feedback? Here’s my quick guide to make it happen.

Step 1 – what is the purpose of the feedback
Why do it in the first place? What do you want out of it? The answer to those questions will affect the way you set-up your 360 process, how you communicate about it with your people and how you review the process down the track.

For example, here’s two common reasons:

1. As part of an ongoing performance management process.

  • Making sure your people have the capabilities needed to achieve the corporate goals.
  • Developing people to improve performance.

2. As part of a leadership development process.

  • Targeting development for participants.
  • Providing a post measure of the effectiveness of the program.

Check out my previous post – Why use 360 degree feedback in the first place.

Step 2 – gain commitment from management
Management need to be committed to the 360 degree feedback process for it to work. If they aren’t committed, your people will see this and the process won’t be effective.

Getting management to buy into it comes down to why you are doing it in the first place. A direct financial argument also helps – this’ll be the subject of a future post.

Step 3 – involve your people up front and pilot the process
Involve your people in the design of the process. Use a nice cross section of people – the ones who’ll be affected by the process.

You need:

  • To get them to buy into the reasons for doing 360.
  • To get input on how to run the process to make sure it’ll work in the real world.
  • To get input and feedback on the competencies (see step 3).

Implement 360 with a pilot group first. Get feedback and make any changes needed before going out to the wider group.

Step 4 – what competencies or values will be used
You can get feedback on almost anything including your new hair style, but the most common things are:

  • Competencies.
  • Values.
  • Behaviours.

Many organisations have a core set of competencies or values. Some also have leadership specific capabilities. And those who have advanced to Jedi level use role specific competencies.

Where do you get the competencies from? There’s heaps of libraries. And if you use a software package to do your 360s it may already have one.

Choose the competencies that will support your corporate goals. Use around seven competencies all up.

The competencies will form a questionnaire that feedback providers will complete. Decide on a rating scale to use with the questionnaire. The competency library you use will probably suggest one.

Step 5 – who will provide coaching – they may need to be trained
When your people eventually receive their feedback they’ll need someone to help them understand it and to create a plan to develop areas needing improvement. This person needs to be skilled at coaching. It is usually a person’s manager, someone from HR or a coaching professional.

If you want your managers to provide coaching and they aren’t skilled in this area, they’ll need some training.

Step 6 – communicate with your people – let them know why and how
Let your people know these things:

  • That a new process called 360 degree feedback is being implemented.
  • Why it is being implemented – see step 1.
  • What it is.
  • How it will work.
  • What they will get out of it.
  • What they need to do.

Step 7 – who will receive feedback and who will provide it
Alright now you need to determine who is going to receive feedback – the people being reviewed. Once this is done, the feedback providers need to be selected. There are two ways this is typically done . . .

  1. The employee nominates their own reviewers and gets their manager’s approval.
  2. The manager nominates the reviewers.

Employee nomination is better – why – because people take more notice of feedback from people they know well and respect. At first your people may not get the whole idea of what the feedback process does for them. So the manager approval process is needed to make sure people don’t kid themselves by choosing buddies to give them feedback.

Step 8 – ask people to provide feedback
The next step is to ask the reviewers to provide feedback. They do this by responding to a questionnaire and providing any written comments.

It’s also essential that a person completes a self review. This really helps a person identify gaps between how they see themselves and how they are perceived by others.

Step 9 – follow-up and collate feedback
Collate responses for each person receiving feedback. Follow-up with stragglers to make sure they respond before the deadline.

Step 10 – produce reports
A report is produced for each person receiving feedback. This helps them understand the feedback provided by each of their reviewers.

Responses from each of the reviewers, except managers, are generally aggregated. This protects anonymity and makes sure that an individual’s responses can’t be identified. So for example, instead of seeing each direct report’s individual response, you’ll see an average of all direct report responses.

Manager responses aren’t normally anonymous. In other words a person would be able to see exactly what feedback their manager provided.

Step 11 – provide coaching
The report is provided to the person receiving feedback as part of a coaching and development process. This should be done by someone skilled at coaching – this could be the person’s manager, someone from HR or a coaching professional.

The report is used to help the person identify, understand and gain confidence in their strengths. It’s also used to highlight opportunities for improvement and areas for development.

The coach helps the person create a plan to develop their capabilities. The person undertakes the development with progress being reviewed as part of the coaching process.

Step 12 – post implementation review
After your pilot program and after the first full 360 degree feedback process, conduct a post implementation review. The purpose of this review is to determine:

  • Whether the feedback is producing the result you wanted.
  • Where improvements can be made to the process.

And finally . . .
360 degree feedback can be a time consuming process if done manually. So how do you get the benefits without the admin overhead?  The answer is technology.  Cognology have developed a simple to use online 360 degree feedback system that automates the process so you can focus on the results.

In the next set of posts . . .
I’ll continue my exploration of 360 in order to fully respond to David’s questions. We’ll look at:

  • What is 360 degree appraisal.
  • The best time to run 360.
  • Setting SMART objectives when there’s little clarity of business goals.

Thanks to Edylyn for the questions to my post – what is 360 degree feedback. Look forward to hearing how it all goes.