Performance appraisal is the activity used to determine the extent to which an employee performs work effectively. The purposes of performance evaluation are to decide which employees need to be trained firstly and secondly to motivate staff to develop a sense of responsibility and thirdly to enhance the communication with employees. In this article, I will illustrate 360i?? performance appraisal, competency based appraisal, and upward appraisal.
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360-degree feedback has been defined by Ward (1995) as: ‘The systematic collection and feedback of performance data on an individual or group derived from a number of the stakeholders on their performance’. 360-degree feedback also named as multi-source assessment or multi-rater feedback is a process of comparing self-perceptions of skills, performance or personality attributes to those of who work closely with the individual and includes self ratings, peer review, and upward assessments.
The feedback maybe incorporated from anyone with a direct knowledge of an individual’s performance, including colleagues, staff reporting, managers and internal customers. The range of feedback could be extended to external sources such as customers, clients or suppliers. These are usually anonymous, self-determining, confidential and voluntary, rather than link to assessment. The purpose of 360 degree feedback is to enhance self-awareness and to realize how we see ourselves and how others see us.
The ultimate goal is to increase personal or team effectiveness by analyzing the strengths and potential development. The following advantages are resulted from adopting 360 degree feedback. Firstly, 360 degree feedback gives the participants with a chance to know they are multiple perceived by others, leading to increased self-awareness and especially, feedback is sought from multiple directions-above, below and peer. So it provides a more meaningful appraisal for employees with little contact with their workplace, compared with traditional top-down appraisals which are or little value.
Second, the feedback which is usually anonymous, confidential, learning-oriented and voluntary guarantees a high employee involvement and credibility and creates an open culture where giving and receiving feedback. Ultimately, it increases the communication within the company. Thirdly, 360 degree feedback reinforces the understanding of the effective behaviors required in terms of both individual and organizational and the expectations of supervisors and managers are clarified.
Last but not least, according to an overall view of the performance of individual’s, team’s and organization’s, the strengths and weaknesses can be utilized to identify the key development areas for the individual, a department and the organization as a whole. But there are some drawbacks related to 360 degree feedback. First, the process of 360-degree feedback is time-consuming, expensive and bureaucratic. Many 360-degree feed-back programs fail because it becomes so complex that they require a much greater investment in time and money than they can expect and return.
Another common problem is feedback from multi-sources can be overwhelming which may not be consistent, meaning that it is necessary to analyze the information with an appropriate guidance. Besides, 360 degree feedback collects information from all-round viewers. However, external customers as a reviewer are often excluded from the feedback process. In contrast, it has been proved that customers are increasingly playing a more and more significant role in the assessment of employee performance.
Thirdly, it is wondered whether the information gathered is accurate, valid and meaningful. Because all raters are given the same instruments, despite the different nature of the contact with appraisee. Questions may be poorly designed, or open to wide interpretation, which should be ideally structured properly. Respondents will usually provide ratings on whatever questions are asked, no matter the questions are appropriate or not. Providing feedback that is constructive requires a plan and well-trained raters.
Another issue is that participants could be under stress can be confusing and frustrating when giving and receiving feedback. It can lead to uncertainty and conflict among team members. Feedback can be adversely affected by emotions and peer conflicts and appraisees may not be ready for frank and open feedback. In conclusion, it is a challenge to make feedback meaningful. In order to guarantee meaningful feedback, a process of self-appraisal, comparison against other managers’ ratings and follow-up with facilitators and those who provided the ratings are the basically recommended.