360 appraisal is an extremely hot topic in HR and performance management at the moment, and it is an increasingly common conversation we are having with our clients; including the use of 360 particularly in relation to performance appraisal. It seems that many consider this to be the panacea when, in reality, it can be the opposite if introduced into a culture that isn’t ready. That said, 360 appraisal can also be an incredibly enlightening development tool if used in the right way. This paper explores the benefits and the risks of 360 appraisal, with a view to enabling organisations to make the right decision as to how to best utilise this tool. It can be very useful if used in the right way; but blindly going into it and hoping for it to all simply just work out is bound to lead to failure, and a perception of 360 appraisal that it isn’t a useful way of getting feedback. It is a slightly more complex of getting feedback, but can have excellent results when used well.
First of all, what is 360 appraisal? It is a process of obtaining feedback from a variety of sources, usually upward (from your line manager), downward (from your team) and sideways (from your peers) hence the term 360 – you are getting feedback from all around you. You may also obtain feedback from external clients or other stakeholders. Usually, a set of questions are established which are then sent electronically to each of the feedback sources who answer on a scale. The scale commonly ranges between 1-5 or 1-6 and the results are collated into bar charts or similar allowing you to view the relative differences of opinion between one group of respondents and another.
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