360-degree assessment is a process where a person is assessed on some dimensions of interest to the organisation using various sources of feedback. The areas where managers are assessed normally include; level of performance, teamwork or a combination of various leadership competencies. Such competencies may include communication, leadership, strategic orientation, global mind-set, technical job knowledge, innovation, business acumen, self-awareness, teamwork, ethical behaviour and resilience. The sources of feedback could be in the form of the following categories; immediate manager of the person being assessed, work colleagues (people at the same level with the person being assessed), subordinates, other employees who have direct contact with the person being assessed, customers where the person interfaces with customers. If you are assessing the Chief Executive you would need to get feedback from Board members as well. The individual being assessed will also assess themselves on the same dimensions.
The big question is under what circumstances would you need to use a 360-degree assessment in your organisation? The first opportunity is when you want to identify training needs for managers. You will be able to see from the assessments, areas where the managers need to improve. These findings can be used as a basis for coming up with development plans for the managers. Given that 360-degree assessments can be done more frequently, you will be able to track the scores of each manager on a yearly basis. That information and its tracking is valuable to the organisation. The second opportunity is for you to use the feedback that comes out of 360-degree assessments for feeding back to the concerned manager. Feedback can be used to change the behaviour of the concerned manager in the direction you want.
Other areas where the 360-degree assessment can be used is when you want to go for team building. You assess each member and feedback the results to the individual first and then in a group setting to team members. Use that as a starting point for your team building sessions. Others use personality assessments to do 360-degree assessments in each executive and use the feedback to increase self-awareness.
Performance of managers on the dimensions of interest to your organisation can be explored further to see their link to business outcomes. Organisations that get this feedback more frequently have been able to check which dimensions are linked to business performance and have invested in the development of these competencies in their managers. These key drivers (competencies) of business performance can then be assessed when new employees want to join your organisation as well. Other organisations use 360-degree assessments once every year for every manager. Research has shown that 360-degree ratings for a manager are correlated with the level of employee engagement in the department where the manager is overseeing.
So where do you start if you want to carry out a 360 degree assessment in your organisation? Before you assess, you must be very clear about what you want to assess and why. Does your organisation have a competency framework? How was that competency framework developed? Has the framework been validated to show that it has a relationship with your key business outcomes? If you have very clear answers for these questions, you have a good starting point. If you do not have answers, find the answers and lay the foundation for a valuable 360-degree assessment. Every organisation must have a competency framework that will help them win on the market. The framework differentiates you from your competitors. The first step in developing your competency framework is to put your top team together so that they brainstorm on the key competencies. Alternatively, you can research in scientific journals and find out what competencies are required at each level to make you win. The disadvantage is that the research findings do not consider your unique context. Another way is to study your own top performers and check what competencies they possess and use the findings to develop your competency framework. It is also important to study your worst performers so that you do not incorporate any of the traits or competencies they possess.
After the above stages, the next stage would be for you to develop a 360-degree assessment tool. This instrument must be developed and checked for both reliability and validity. If you do not have the resources to take this route, you can use off the shelf instruments already validated locally. Using an unreliable instrument is a complete waste of time. Unfortunately, most executives are not aware of this important point.
When implemented properly in a structured manner 360-degree assessments instruments bring immense value to the business. I have observed that progressive organisations use them. Multinationals in this country are far ahead in the use of 360-degree assessments as compared to local organisations. 360-degree assessments give your organisation credible evidence or data to make decisions.
Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant- Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi/ Phone +263 242 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com