When used well, 180 degree assessments can provide a wealth of information to managers and employees. This information can help you become more effective in fulfilling your workplace duties while also informing succession planning.
When not used well, 180 degree assessments are often less effective. For this reason, it’s important to identify common mistakes companies and employees make when using these assessments. By identifying these mistakes, companies can avoid them and get the most out of 180 degree feedback.
Here are 5 common mistakes by companies during 180 assessments:
Mistake #1: Survey Items Aren’t Applicable
The survey used in a 180 assessment needs to match the company and the individuals involved. It should measure competencies that are relevant to the employee’s position, which may require some specific tailoring. Otherwise, a company will end up evaluating competencies that don’t actually apply to the employee’s position.
In many cases, companies will opt for a pre-prepared survey, in which case they run into the problem of testing irrelevant competencies. What may be even worse is it won’t be as comprehensive—vital capabilities are left unmeasured and there’s less information to go on when making developmental plans afterward.
This also presents a potential issue in one’s ability to fill out the survey. If something doesn’t seem to apply to the employee being evaluated, it could result in confusion, frustration, and highly skewed responses. As such, the survey used in a 180 degree assessment should be designed for both the company and the specific role of the employee to ensure usable results.
Mistake #2: Failure to Communicate Purpose
Not only should an assessment be tailored to match the company and employee, it should also have a clear purpose. If either the manager or the employee taking the survey aren’t clear on the purpose of the assessment, it could skew the results.
It should be made absolutely clear that a 180 assessment is intended to help with an employee’s development. Otherwise, the employee may view it as a punishment for poor performance or could underestimate its importance.
Mistake #3: Misusing Data
Likewise, the manager needs to be clear on the fact that the survey is purely for professional development. It shouldn’t be used to make decisions about employment. If it is, future attempts to use 180 degree feedback may be met with resistance.
Data from the survey also needs to be kept confidential and it should be used purely to help employees and managers start conversations about their professional performance. The intent is to use it to make plans and clarify the employee’s role in the organization.
Mistake #4: Injecting Too Much Bias
With how important the data from 180 degree feedback is, the ideal situation would be a perfectly honest and unbiased assessment of the individual’s competencies. Unfortunately, bias can sneak into the process.
Both the manager and the employee should try to be as objective as possible so that any amount of bias inherent in the data will be minimized. If either of the parties involved is trying to use their responses to the assessment to prove a point, it can ruin the results and render the feedback ineffective.
For instance, a manager may not like one particular employee. If they were to fill out an assessment, they need to do so without letting their own resentment color the results. If they try to show the employee in as negative a light as possible, it will result in unfair results. Any discussion they have with the employee afterward would be useless since it’s based on personal feelings rather than objective analysis.
Mistake #5: Failure to Review Raters
If there are problems between an employee and a supervisor, then it may not be the best idea to have them both participate in the survey. In the above example, the employee’s supervisor wouldn’t be the best person to fill out the survey, even though they are in the best position to observe the employee’s performance.
This problem can work the other way as well. If the employee has any ill will toward their direct supervisor, then the discussion of their results afterward wouldn’t likely go that well. It would be better in this case to find a leader in the company whom they respect and have them fill out the survey. An HR director or similar personnel could be a good option here.
Avoiding Mistakes with Your 180 Assessments
Companies that fail to detect problems like this likely won’t get as much out of 180 assessments as they would if they reviewed their raters in advance. If they detect any problems, they can make necessary changes to make sure the results are as accurate and helpful as possible.
Of course, this isn’t the limit of what could go wrong during a 180 assessment. In order to avoid these and other errors, working with a professional consultant throughout the process will help ensure the best possible outcomes.
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