Ways to Improve 360 Degree Performance Appraisals
The reliability of 360 degree performance appraisals can be improved substantially by redesigning the process to minimize biases and to encourage participants to provide frank responses about themselves and others. Also, you can increase the relevancy of the feedback, which in turn improves reliability, by restructuring how people interact, particularly in groups. Here are a few suggestions in creating a better appraisal system.
1. Increase the Pool of Evaluators – You can use a larger pool of evaluators as a way to create anonymity and reduced the fear factor. If your evaluation process only includes a supervisor, direct reports, and co-workers, think about enlarging the pool to include the input of other stakeholders.
2. Increase the Frequency of the Evaluations – This method will help in two respects. First, it will give the appraisers more opportunities to observe the performance of individuals and eliminate first impression or single event biases. Second, it gives evaluators more practice with the 360 degree evaluation process. While the dreaded annual evaluation could still become the dreaded six or four month evaluation, more familiarity with the process will eventually help to improve the quality of the feedback.
3. Garner Support from Top Management – Top management needs to create a culture through communication and incentives to reward honest constructive feedback while discouraging candy-coated evaluations. Ironically, in order to boost the reliability of 360 degree performance appraisals, management needs to communicate and demonstrate first that they are going to treat the performance appraisal as a reliable indicator.
4. Initiate Cross-training or Job Rotation – It is difficult to evaluate a co-worker when you don't fully have an appreciation the scope of what they do. Crossing-training and job rotation will assist everyone to better understanding various job functions.
5. Promote Team Projects - Get people out of their cubicles and into the meeting room to collaborate on projects. Group projects are an excellent way to hone existing technical skills and to explore and develop new skills. Also, observing a team leader is a great way to preview an employee's leadership style before they are assigned larger and more complex responsibilities. While team projects can certainly help improve the quality of 360 degree evaluations, interestingly, the reverse may also be true in that 360 degree evaluations may help to improve project team performance.
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