360 Degree Feedback: From Development Tool to Performance Appraisal

Over the past five years, we have seen more and more interest in using 360-degree feedback as part of a performance appraisal process. Many organizations have made the change from using 360-degree feedback assessments strictly for development to using them for performance evaluations, talent reviews, and succession planning. The key to success is the way in which you implement the process in the organization.
360 Migration Pattern
We recommend that you begin using 360 assessments for development, and then migrate towards performance appraisal over time, if appraisal is the direction you’d like to go. This helps to break in the organization to the process and relieve any fears that people may have about 360s. The following illustrates a typical migration pattern for using 360 assessments and the different components of each method:
1. Personal Development

  • 360 feedback is part of a development event
  • Reports are confidential and kept within the scope of training
  • Rater selection and follow-up is participant driven

2. Personal and Organizational Development

  • 360 feedback is part of a development program
  • Action plans are to be discussed with the participant’s manager
  • Management receives group reports

3. Assessment and Development

  • 360 feedback is part of the performance assessment process
  • Group and individual reports are shared with managers
  • Rater selection and follow-up is driven by manager

4. Performance Appraisal

  • 360 feedback is specific to position competencies
  • Ranking and grading on group and individual scores
  • Includes a formal rater selection process, appraisal, and links to compensation

How long does this migration take?
It all depends on the culture of your organization. If you have a relatively open and progressive culture that is ready for change, this process can be done over a shorter period of time- say, over the course of the first or second year.
During the first year, 360 assessments would be used exclusively for developmental purposes. During the second year, 360s could also be used as part of a performance evaluation process (Notice that we said “as part of”. It’s important to note that 360 feedback should never replace a formal appraisal process, but should serve as an additional source of input).
Alternatively, if there is a low level of trust in your organization and anxiousness about change in general, you may want to extend the migration over a period of two-three years.
360 assessments are a great tool for development, performance appraisals, talent reviews, and succession planning. Take care to ensure that you implement them in a way that best fits with the culture of your organization.
Related Webinar: 360-Degree Feedback for Development vs. Appraisal
Related Article: 360-Degree Feedback Revisited: The Transition From Development to Appraisal
Related Post: 6 Things to Consider Before Using 360 Feedback for Performance Appraisal
Related Post: 10 Tips for Using 360-Degree Feedback for Performance Appraisal

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