Performance Appraisal – the Pros and Cons of 360 degree Evaluations

omqi3%2fraw_profile_logo_By Margaret Wood 10/21/2016

Using 3600 performance appraisals for evaluative purposes can be caustic and has the potential to deconstruct an otherwise great workplace culture.

While it may sound like a good idea, how unbiased, reliable and valid  is the information?  How well do the evaluators know the person, personally and professionally. Additionally, if things go awry, you could potentially lose some of your best performers. 360’s work best as development tools vs. rating tools.

Some Advantages & Disadvantages – the Pros & COns

One of the biggest advantages of 360s is that you can see the employee from another perspective. Getting this perspective from direct reports and peers can prove valuable.

Common Mistakes in Execution

Planning and implementation are the key to a 360’s success. Once the particulars are discussed, i.e. What competencies and skills should be reviewed, if there is a big enough pool of participants to ensure anonymity, etc. then you will be able to move to the next stage: Implementation

You want raters who can provide relevant feedback. If employees don’t interact often, it is very unlikely that you will  obtain any useful information  or accurate ratings. PLUS, the employee gets subjected to unfair and distorted assessments.”

To avoid the appearance of persecution, managers should avoid focusing on one-off comments. Instead, they should focus on the message. The biggest downfall of 360s is that managers don’t review it with the employee – since they had no vested input, they have a tendency to “drop and run”- leave the report on someone’s desk with such comments as , ‘Looks like you’re doing OK.’ Or, ‘You’ve got room to improve,’ with no further discussion.

Politics and Human Behavior 

When 360s are used for feedback, coaching and  development, they can actually prove useful. It can be difficult to determine if there are alliances to produce certain results. Additionally, the raters may not be totally familiar with an individual’s skills if they don’t communicate often.At best, a 3600   review is only a snapshot focused at a point in time.

One of the biggest considerations should be addressing report overload. The numbers of hours needed to complete a 3600   is staggering.

3600  Affecting Morale  Experts

3600    performance appraisals  have been known to damage morale.  Employees have a tendency to focus on the one or two negative feedbacks rather than on all  the other positive ones. People get demoralized and tend to reject then unfavorable feedback if they feel it is inaccurate.

The Rating Scale

People have a tendency to define the scales differently, further skewing the results.

Reconsider the questions and replies you seek. Consider these friendlier responses instead:

  • ‘Do More’
  • ‘Do Less’
  • ‘Continue Just as You Are’

Those companies that have met with success using a 3600 approach display a strong workplace culture and seamless communication and trust. Without that, your 3600  plan is doomed!


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