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Professional assessments can be nerve-racking for employees, regardless of their performance or position. Your coworkers will have a lot of questions about and uncertainty toward any new evaluation process, such as a newly implemented 360-degree assessment.
As an HR director, one of the most important things you can do to help your organization succeed is to have answers ready to roll out. When employees understand why an assessment is happening, what goals you and the organization as a whole have, and what the potential stakes are on an individual level, they can give more authentic, helpful feedback.
Mishandling the 360-degree assessment implementation can have devastating consequences. In a recent SHRM article discussing the pros and cons of 360-degree assessments, one quoted expert warned against using it for the wrong reasons, such as determining compensation:
"I've seen departments blow up and employees leave companies because the 360 wasn't handled properly," said leadership coach Alicia Arenas, SPHR of Sanera in San Antonio, Texas. "360s are most effective when they are used as a development tool, not a rating tool."
Instead of running the same risk, it's important to clearly establish and communicate what the assessments are intended to do.
In this guide, we'll walk through the steps you should take after completing a 360-degree assessment so the information is used properly and doesn't lead to negative changes in the workplace.
Instead of using it to rate employee performance, use the results to identify and implement developmental plans that impact your organization long-term. Here’s how you can do it.
First and foremost, 360-degree assessments are focused on the individual. Development is the driving purpose behind 360 feedback; however, if participants are unable to interpret the feedback, it becomes increasingly difficult to identify those developmental opportunities.
In order to ensure that participants are taken care of, first-time participants are encouraged to attend facilitated training sessions or participate in a one-on-one coaching session. This teaches participants how to interpret results and, more importantly, how to relate them to career goals through development planning.
Through coaching, participants can learn how to control emotional responses, focus on areas of improvement, and put results in context of their individual role. This is when true development is possible.
While each individual assessment will provide valuable information, it's just as important to look for trends in the aggregated information. If multiple employees are indicating the same strengths and weaknesses in the organization, that may determine your priorities for future steps.
Look for trends in how employees across different groups assess the organization's leaders so you can gain insight into a cross-departmental perspective. Finding where and why those trends differ across groups can point out areas for future development.
Now it’s time to start developing a plan that addresses weaknesses or areas for growth you identified as a result of the assessments. Many organizations approach this stage by simply delivering the feedback, and that's a mistake.
Simply depositing opinions and results in front of individuals won't lead to change — it may cause people to feel defensive, argue with the results, or ignore them altogether.
Instead, create development plans for your leadership team. While every leader may have a need for growth, it's important that the steps be customized and not viewed as punitive or critical.
You can package development as a group endeavor with individualized steps. Some of the forms development steps can take include:
Another mistake organizations can easily make with 360-degree assessments is by focusing solely on the previous steps: identifying weaknesses and creating training or development programs around those weaknesses.
However, that ignores all the positives and strengths that your leaders are bringing to the table! When the results of assessments are always focused on the negative, that can be demoralizing and lead to less engagement in development.
Take the time to identify and communicate strengths. This can help affirm leaders' strengths, reveal to them new areas they excel in, and allow them to feel accomplished if a leader has been working to improve a specific competency area.
Identifying strengths doesn't just improve morale either — it will encourage leaders to continue demonstrating those skills and excelling in those areas. Letting strengths pass unnoticed may lead employees to believe those skills either aren't needed or aren't appreciated, and you'll risk seeing those positive attributes fade away.
At TruScore, we make it easier to excel with your next 360-degree assessment. Our software makes it easier to perform assessments, aggregate the results, and find insightful trends to assist in your developmental training. Get started with a demo request today!