I read this a few days ago in response to an inquiry about 360 surveys and best uses. Wendell Williams' Ph.D.response is so right on, I decided to share it here. 360 surveys can be helpful tools if used correctly... they can have little to no effect, or be damaging to the person or the culture of a company if used incorrectly.
“Please do not take 360 lightly. There are some real pitfalls, that if not addressed in the outset, WILL rise up to bite you later and you will find yourself scrambling to preserve your credibility.
- Keep it job related and job specific...although managers will ask for it, avoid the "nice to know" or "big brother" questions.
- Let each participant pick what he / she wants feedback on. One-size questionnaires fit no one (this is a very important step).
- Keep it behavioral...valuate what people can see or hear...not what the rater "thinks." If it cannot be seen or heard, it will be subjective and error-prone. Do not buy into the nonsense that people will ignore what they cannot accurately rate.
- Keep it relevant to the specific audience. For example, don't ask peers if Billy-Bob provides clear directions to subs, they could care less and probably have no idea. Ask subordinates.
- Separate these audiences: Top management expectations, subordinate feedback, customer feedback, team member feedback, and so forth.
- Don't survey the universe...focus on a few critical areas...people can only work on one developmental area at a time. Too many questions creates a fog of confusion.
- Examine each question carefully. If you do not know beforehand what you will do with bad answers, don't use it. Bad answers frustrate and confuse people.
- Don't tie results to any kind of ratings, promotions, pay decisions, or other reward / punishment systems. Your system will quickly self-destruct.
These are key elements...avoid anyone or any system that either does not address or minimizes the importance of each of these issues. Good luck!”
Well said Wendell – very helpful information for those considering, or currently using, 360 degree surveys.