What is a 180-degree performance appraisal versus a 360-degree?

In business, there are various methods of appraisal when it comes to the performance of employees. The 180-degree performance appraisal is the one most used, but the 360-degree can also be a good choice, especially if you need a larger vision on the person being evaluated. So what are the differences between the 180-degree appraisal method and the 360-degree? Let’s take a closer look, so you can learn to differentiate them and choose the right one.

The 180-degree Appraisal System: A Self-Evaluation by the Employee

The 180-degree feedback performance appraisal system is a direct one. It implies that the employee and his manager will go through the evaluation by having the former fill a questionnaire, where he will judge his own performance. Farther on, the employee will be asked to rate himself and his work throughout the last year (the duration between each appraisal can vary inside companies). At the end there is a discussion between the manager and the employee to discuss the conclusion of the self-appraisal.

Since there is only the vision of the person being assessed, it is a lot less complete than other appraisal method. In fact, it doesn’t take in account anything else but the position of the employee and how the manager agrees (or not) with it. The environment and the colleagues with whom the employees are working are being left out, which doesn’t enable a full picture of the situation. In truth, the 180-degree appraisal can be functional in some conditions (very small team, constant direct link between the manager and employee), but is certainly not the best method in other cases, especially inside larger firms.

The 360-degree Appraisal System: A Global Evaluation of the Employee

The 360-degree performance review is a more complete evaluation, as it takes in account the opinion of other people around the employee; not just the manager. At the end of such evaluation, management should be in a position to come to conclusions regarding the employee’s work inside the company. That is because they will have been given the views from the employee himself (like in the 180-degree performance appraisal) as well as the one from his colleagues in the office and other managers he may have had contact with. But it gets even deeper than that, since some 360-degree appraisal will also ask clients and peers’ opinions, to have a full view of the situation.

By looking deeper and analysing all possible perspectives, this evaluation is the best approach when a manager wants to find the weakest traits of an employee, so that he can work on them. It is difficult for an individual to self-analyse fully and not to pass on certain elements he prefers not to see or discuss. Having other points of views makes it a more complete analysis. It will also help the employee a lot more than if he just discusses the situation with his superior, which is something they can do (not in all companies) on a regular basis, if need be.

How to choose between the 180-degree appraisal and the 360-degree?

The real key to making this choice is the size of the company. The smaller it is, and the more you should aim towards a 180-degree appraisal system. The objective is to define how well the employee is performing in a given environment. Therefore, if the company is on the smaller size and the person interacts with his manager on a regular basis, more than with anyone else, there is little point to try having a larger view of the situation by asking others’ opinions. The employee and the manager should be able to analyse the situation together, without outside help.

If the employee works inside a large structure, then it is definitely better to choose the 360 appraisal method. In such a setting, it is almost impossible for the manager to be able to evaluate the employee by himself. The self-evaluation he will be given may be skewed, and the manager might not have enough information, by himself, to understand it. Therefore, he needs to have a more global vision of the employee’s performance. The only way to do that is to gather the views of those around that employee, so that, in the end, some elements will come into view, on which work needs to be done. Then, he can take the necessary measures to help the employee in that respect.

It is also good for a manager that has many employees under his guidance. The complete results he will get, from all the appraisals, will not only enable him to have a good vision of each employee’s performance, but also of how well they work together and where there are trouble between employees. A group that gets along well can add to its efficiency. If one of the employees is a problem, it is a good way to discover it and to take the necessary measures, whatever that may mean in a given situation.

Carry F.

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