What is a 360° assessment?
360° assessment, which was brought over from the United States and arrived in France in the mid-1980s, aims to allow an employee’s behaviour, aptitudes and skills to be assessed by his/her supervisor, colleagues, subordinates, internal or external clients, suppliers and partners.
The exercise can be carried out by following two different approaches:
- Either for the sole purpose of evaluating an employee, with the prospect of promotion or recruitment, at the request of the company.
- Or for self-evaluation purposes, as part of an employee’s development approach, usually at the request of the employee. In this case, the results of the assessment are communicated exclusively with the employee, who is then free to choose to share the results with his/her supervisors or not.
How does 360° work?
Above all, it is important to define the approach to be implemented: Management and HRD will define the objectives of 360°, namely the managerial skills to be assessed but also the issue of results’ confidentiality (shared with HRD and/or the direct manager of the manager being assessed).
This first step will help to develop an appropriate questionnaire. The objective is actually to adapt the questions to concerns related to the position being assessed. The questions will therefore be different for an intermediate manager and a senior manager. Depending on the objectives of the approach, it is necessary to ensure an even distribution of open-ended and scale questions. As a reminder, scale questions allow for free expression where information is gathered verbatim (a textual quote, a term for the response articulated by the surveyed employees).
Today, most 360°assessments are computerised. As a result, questionnaires are made digitally.
Before the questionnaire begins, a communication stage is essential for the manager and the various participants. Generally, this stage consists of a work meeting whereby the methodology, the 360° procedures and objectives are presented.
Confidentiality and anonymity are central to this particular assessment process. It is then essential to reaffirm the principle of benevolence : Feedback is a gift that should allow the manager to change their behaviour. It is also the time to guarantee the anonymity of the answers given by the participants. Anonymity helps to avoid settling any scores as a result of 360°, as well as neutral feedback, which, for the manager concerned, will be non-constructive.
So 360° assessment consists of two stages:
- The employee completes a self-assessment grid,
- A similar questionnaire is sent to the pre-determined assessors.
The completed questionnaires are analysed and processed so they can be returned to the employee. The crucial step of 360° is the debriefing with the manager, a constructive analysis which aims to help the employee develop. The purpose of the feedback is to help the manager become aware of the gap between his/her perception and that of the people around him/her.
At the end of the discussion, the manager receives a report containing a compilation of all the answers given by the people who work with him/her. This summary includes the “assigned scores”, as well as the comments as they were expressed by the assessors. The assessed employee is then invited to work on his personal development plan and his objectives in the form of an action plan which will be organised over time.
In fact, beyond sharing results, the real lever for change lies in the creation of a progress plan that will allow the manager’s strengths and weaknesses to be worked on. A reflection period of one to two weeks following the results feedback allows the manager to come to terms with the results. Then, substantive decisions should be made with regard to an improvement plan.