Adding a New Dimension to 360° Assessment

BY Dr Rob Feltham and Kate Young

360° Assessment has conventionally involved gathering and collating multiple perceptions of a reviewee’s performance through the use of rating scales. The results are used to evaluate an individual’s performance and help them to identify and prioritise their development needs. In most cases, reviewers score individuals against a range of different competencies which are established at the design stage of the project. At the end of the assessment, reviewees are able to see how they have been scored on each competency by the different rater groups

This approach is based on two assumptions; that competency benchmarks are established as a baseline against which future employee performance can be measured and that ratings for multiple individuals can be cross compared.

Although traditional 360° assessment is widely used and offers many benefits, Cubiks decided to develop an alternative process following discussions with a client that was seeking a fresh approach. The company had noticed that in a vast majority of cases, 360° ratings were clustered around a single point on a 5 point scale. This frequently resulted in ‘flat profiles’, which were of limited use when attempting to stimulate development dialogue between managers and their reports.

Furthermore, the company was concerned that individuals were spending too long answering the 360° assessments. The average questionnaire completion time was around 25 minutes and with multiple 360° processes running in parallel, ‘survey fatigue’ was a real concern for the business.

Responding to these issues, Cubiks decided to develop a new type of 360° assessment that included a forced choice or ‘ipsative’ element. This would compel participants to highlight an individual’s top strengths and development needs from a list of options, rather than rate a long list of competencies using a conventional scale.

Cubiks designed a new Multi-Rater Assessment instrument to incorporate this format, though kept the familiar administration process that requires questionnaires to be completed by both the reviewee and reviewers in categories such as ‘peers’, ‘reports’ and ‘boss’.

As well as asking participants to pinpoint strengths and development needs, the system also asks reviewers to rank the competencies within each category. This process can be completed at either a ‘competency level’, as described, or at a ‘behavioural statement level’ where reviewers choose between statements derived from competencies. Reviewer data is then brought together and automatically analysed to indicate the consensus strengths and development areas as established for the individual.

While the implementation of the ipsative 360° approach has resulted in a 40% time saving for questionnaire completion, the key benefit that the client has identified is an improvement in the quality of the feedback dialogue around the priority areas for development.

Of course, the traditional 360° assessment approach continues to have a valuable role to play in business, particularly when organisations are seeking to compare assessment ratings across groups or over time to ascertain whether development gaps have been closed.

Both versions of the 360° assessment are available to users of the Cubiks Online platform, a highly flexible instrument that provides employers with a structured framework to comprehensively assess the relative strengths and development needs of their employees.

If you’d like further information about Cubiks 360° assessment solutions please contact Angelique Diedericks.