360-degree appraisals or simple, old-fashioned one-to-ones?

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360 degree feedbackThere are five possible rating ‘directions’ that can be used during performance appraisal – self appraisal, downward (boss) appraisal, upward (subordinate) appraisal, peer appraisal and 360 degree (multi-source, multi-rater (MSMR)) appraisal.  All have benefit but all have their problems and in reaching a conclusion about which to use one needs to understand the dynamics of each ‘direction’.  There is also a danger in receiving negative feedback.

The maximum number of negative feedback points that should be received by any individual at any one time is two so this flags a danger in multi-rater systems.  The mechanism of self-assessment and the way feedback is processed and used by appraisees is also interesting.  Many practitioners comment that appraisees may respond to feedback received formally or informally, and one response is to leave the firm.

There are two uses of rating by self or others – firstly for the laying down of personal development plans and secondly for staff and manager appraisal (the latter possibly linked to reward).  Each has a very different focus.  Where MSMR systems have been implemented for appraisal, most have been abandoned within two years.  One of the difficulties cited by many firms is the sheer size of the task.

This balance of pros and cons leads to an obvious conclusion that as far as performance appraisal goes, there is really nothing that can beat a downward appraisal based initially on self-assessment where both appraiser and appraise have had suitable training – the boss on facilitating discussion and the subordinate on self-appraisal.  Overall, MSMR appraisals don’t cut it when the cost and risks are considered – costs outweigh benefits.   And whilst self-appraisal can be lenient (when compared with other directions), this is corrected somewhat by training in self-assessment techniques.

The use of MSMR for development purposes on the other hand has potentially a long and useful life ahead.

Do you have an opinion about appraisals and staff development?  Why not leave a reply?

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