At most organizations, human resource professionals conduct annual evaluations to assess employee performance. In addition, ideal evaluation systems should assist employees in their personal development and provide management data for strategic planning. Effective evaluations reward excellent performance, underscore poor performance and explain expectations.
Traditional evaluations are often done by the immediate supervisor, so assessments are subjective reports from one individual.
Depending on the size of the organization and the size of the workforce, the traditional methods provide a limited view of an employee’s efforts. Each employee often works with several superiors, subordinates and clients of the organization. The other members and clients might have a completely different evaluation of the performance of an employee. Several people providing assessments can present a more comprehensive picture of the value of an employee. 360 Degree Feedback is a process for accomplishing this goal.
Using this system, human resource departments administer employee evaluations to the entire work circle of an employee. The assessments are anonymous, continuous and confidential. The feedback comes from the supervisor of each employee and other managers who are not directly responsible for the performance of the employee. Subordinates of the employee also submit evaluations. In addition, clients and suppliers of the organization can be involved in the evaluation depending on the duties of the employee. Moreover, the employee submits a self-evaluation as part of the process.
The purpose of the 360 Degree Feedback evaluation is controversial, and organizations use the method in different ways. For some groups, the goal of the 360 Degree Feedback evaluation remains an appraisal of the employee’s performance. As a tool for personal development, the 360 Degree Feedback evaluation provides an employee with information from different perspectives and stakeholders. The employee, through the self-evaluation, has an opportunity to assess their strengths, weaknesses and develop an improvement plan for the future.
Information collected from these evaluations is usually accompanied by information on the relationship of the evaluator to the subject employee. The evaluation results usually show the amount of time the rater has known the employee for as well as the intensity of the working relationship. Researchers have shown that the most helpful evaluations are submitted by those raters who have worked with the employee for one to three years. They have determined that this evaluation method serves to improve employee performance.
Human resource professionals usually design employee evaluations that are completely related to the job profile of each worker. The use of 360 Degree Feedback has increased substantially, and individuals in charge of the organizational evaluation system will not have to design the assessment tools for the implementation of the system. Several companies currently sell packages with assessment tools, process guides and feedback templates. For a fee, these professionals will design the tools, organize the implementation and conduct the evaluation process.