If you ask people to take part in a 360 degree review at work they are often hesitant. Unlike a traditional assessment, where the manager alone gives an assessment of an individual, a 360 degree assessment involves managers, peers and juniors who all answer questions about the way you do your job.

People may be worried about giving honest feedback about their boss. Bosses can also be resistant to the idea as well; they might think they should be judged by results or the bottom line, not the opinion of those around them. But at Anthony Gregg Partnership we see 360 reviews as a powerful tool.

The boss needs to lead the way

The people at the top need to set an example, so the first people to go through a 360 degree review should be the C-suite. Research seen by us at Anthony Gregg Partnership clearly shows that companies with robust performance management programmes outperform ones who don’t in clear and measurable ways, including return on equity, stockholder return, sales growth and cash flow and the senior team need to set an example.

That doesn’t mean a 360 degree review will fix everything, in fact done badly it will do more harm than good, so it’s vital to get it right.

Clear objectives and effective tools

It is crucial that the aims of the 360 degree review are linked directly to the organisational objectives. It should be very clear to everyone involved exactly what the objectives are and how the review questions link to the objectives.

The tools are the questions asked in the review. These have to be very carefully considered and clearly and simply stated. The whole process depends on everyone who participates understanding the questions and being able to give clear answers.

The whole questionnaire should be short – no more than 20 minutes to complete – and the questions must be psychometrically reliable to ensure they will give you the information you need. Each question should be short – 10 words maximum, about a single behaviour, not open to interpretation and concentrate on behaviours not outputs. Always avoid jargon.

Most of the answers will be on a rating scale. Usually these are 5 or 7 point scales and relate to quality or frequency. Most reviews have an open question towards the end; make sure participants understand what is appropriate to say in this section.

Design and implement a good 360 degree review, starting with the bosses, and you can start to make better use of your human capital. If you would like any help just call us at Anthony Gregg Partnership.