360 assessments are now being used by over 85% of larger and leading organizations. As I wrote in “9 Problems with 360 Multi-Rater Assessments” there’s a growing backlash and resistance to their use because they often search for gaps and weaknesses.
Our work with Zenger Folkman has shown that 360 data on a leader’s effectiveness can very accurately predict levels of employee engagement, turnover, customer satisfaction, discretionary effort, profitability, health and safety, and other key results. These correlations provide strong evidence that 360 assessment ratings can be powerful talent development tools in accurately predicting which leaders will be the most successful. One ZF study looked at correlations between “nine box” placement ratings, psychometric assessment data from a battery of popular tests, and our 360 ratings. Correlations between nine box placement data and 360 results were by far the strongest.
Many organizations use 360 assessments as a performance management tool where the leader’s manager, HR/OD professionals, and perhaps a talent development management committee get a copy of the assessment report. In their Talent Quarterly article, Can 360-Degree Feedback Predict Potential?, Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman point out these pitfalls with that approach:
- Assessment Manipulation – this might include leaders not including any raters who might provide lower scores, influencing raters before they do the assessment, and peers or other raters who agree to give each other stronger ratings.
- Culture/Situational Influences – the organizational environment or team circumstances may be very positive or very negative. While leaders can build upon or buffer those factors, sometimes their ratings reflect happiness or dissatisfaction with broader issues.
- Overweighed by Numbers – some managers or development professionals put too much weight on the ratings and don’t consider broader factors.
We are working with some organizations to combine “Components of a Best-of-Class 360 Assessment” with providing summary data or copies of the leader’s assessment report to a manager, HR/OD professional, or talent development committee. This approach needs to be carefully managed to balance strengths-based personal development with some performance management and talent assessment.