360 Degree Assessment

by Julia Miller

Some case studies

Below are some case studies showing how 360 instruments have been used in organisations in the public and private sector.

Example 1

Developing an appraisal system

The board of a manufacturer of innovative hi-tech products decided that it needed to improve the appraisal skills and performance management system within the company. In conjunction with external consultants, they considered what behaviours were important to the organisation at present and what would be needed in the future to enable the company to increase its sales and profit.

These behaviours were used to develop a competency framework, which was used as the basis for a 360 degree appraisal system. A customised instrument was developed and used within the company’s management staff to target personal development for each manager.

The company used the 360 not only to identify personal development action plans, but also to look at any company-wide patterns in strengths and weaknesses. They used composite reports, which showed average scores on the behaviours for each tier of management. The company then ran workshops on specific topic areas and also gave one-to-one coaching.

The company ran their 360 appraisal 18 months later and found significant performance improvements across the organisation.

Example 2

Focusing on improving performance

A county council wanted to set standards above and beyond expectations. In particular, the Chief Officers Group felt that it wanted to improve performance through developing a contemporary vision and supporting values.

Participation in a 360 degree appraisal helped them to increase their self-awareness and focus on what actions were needed to improve communication. They became more strategic, with a clearer focus. They re-structured their meetings to become more time-effective and became more supportive of each other, increasing delegation.

The entire process took 12 months. It was particularly valuable for the top group, because managers at this level often receive little or no feedback.

Example 3

Defining required leadership styles

One organisation wanted help in defining the leadership style they needed for the future.

They carried out two rounds of feedback. The first round involved 228 of the top managers who, after completion of the leadership styles questionnaire, received a report, both for the whole group and also a composite report for each department. Following this, a development programme was initiated to build senior competencies across eight areas.

In the second round, 180 managers received feedback, again with a report for the whole group and composite reports for separate departments. Workshops based on the competencies were then held.

The managers felt valued by the process; they had a willingness to reward and challenge behaviour, and all the respondents were seen by colleagues after the 360 to have improved their communication skills, personal impact and capacity for innovation.