Your 360 Degree Assessment Stinks.

There . . . I've said it. When I googled '360 degree assessment', I received over 2,500,000 results (in 0.23 seconds - I love Google!). Even if 50%-75% are not really what we're talking about today, we're still in the ballpark of 625,000 results. So there's a LOT of 360 degree assessments out there.

So we're on the same page, a 360 degree assessment is: a tool to gather feedback from all around an employee. "360" refers to the 360 degrees in a circle, with an individual figuratively in the center of the circle. Feedback is provided by subordinates, peers, and supervisors. It also includes a self-assessment and, in some cases, feedback from external sources such as customers and suppliers or other interested stakeholders.

It's a powerful tool and used frequently when coaches are initiating coaching with executives. It gives us a better picture of what's going on in the battlefield.

The funny thing is . . . most assessments are terrible. Why?

  • They've been around for a long time. Anything with a long half-life in business tends to get bigger, more complex.
  • They've been institutionalized. When they become standardized, the wrong people start to make them boring and over-reaching.
  • They've become a business. There are companies who do this for organizations. It's their job to make it 'important' (and big).
I've seen 160-200 question assessments. How would you like to fill out one of these for your colleagues? What would happen around question 50? I know we all would begin to get punchy and start to quickly check off answers near the middle of the range (not to severely impact the reviewee).
This is what I do — I schedule a 10 minute call with each interviewee and ask three questions (let's say about Susan, their co-worker:
  • What are Susan's strengths?
  • What are Susan's weaknesses?
  • Anything else you'd like to add?
I use 'strengths and weaknesses' rather than what do they do wrong or right. I find it allows the reviewee to open up about the person and talk about them as a member of their team. First you get emotions, then I probe for more factual items. I'll say, "Give me an example."
The best part?  I get straightforward answers and use no more than 10 minutes of their time. Just as we start . . . it's over.
I then take all the information and summarize it into two buckets ('Qualities that are well developed' and 'Qualities that need attention') and try to mix it together so the client doesn't immediately recognize who said it. It's better they focus on what is being said and not who.
Every time, when I show the documents to the person who has hired me, the results are always spot on. 
Try it! You might like it.


P.S. If you'd like more information about how I deliver a 360 degree assessment - Let’s talk. I’ve worked with thousands of executives and find this is a perfect way to start a coaching relationship — call or email me to schedule a complimentary session.