360-degree appraisals

360-degree appraisal is a personal development review system that gathers feedback from a number of sources.

These may well include colleagues and customers, as well as anyone who reports to an individual. Supporters of the process claim that it provides better information about an individual’s performance than a traditional appraisal based on an individual manager’s assessment.

Up to 10 people may be asked to complete a questionnaire about you as part of the process. The individual being appraised may also need to complete a form for themselves.

Often individuals who are providing feedback are asked to read a series of statements and score them against a scale. This feedback should always be anonymous. The questions may relate to behavioural competency requirements, as well as other aspects of your role.

A 360-degree appraisal gives an individual an opportunity to identify strengths that they might not be aware of and to think about how they might address any development needs that arise. Individuals receiving such feedback need to:

  • be brave and try not to focus entirely on any negative or developmental feedback; and
  • listen to or read what is said carefully and with an open mind, and reflect on the feedback.

Advantages of 360-degree appraisals

  • The people giving feedback are often more informed about aspects of an individual’s performance than their manager.
  • Questions can be tailored to be relevant to the individual’s role.
  • Respondents can give tailored feedback with examples.
  • Individuals can get feedback on their performance from a wide range of sources.
  • Feedback for individuals is sometimes about aspects of their performance that they are not aware of – good and not so good. It helps individuals to understand how others perceive them.

Disadvantages of 360-degree appraisals

  • There may be lack of clarity about what is required and how it will be used.
  • Feedback may be ambiguous or not specific enough.
  • The reviewing manager may lack the necessary skills. Ideally a skilled coach should deliver feedback.
  • Poorly designed questionnaires result in irrelevant or ambiguous feedback.
  • Reviewers may lack time to complete the review properly.

General information on performance reviews, including 360-degree feedback, is available from ACAS.

Make sure you have plenty of notice of any performance interview, and find out in advance where and when it will be held and what will be discussed.