360-Degree Performance Reviews of
Managers and Executives

Conducted Online, Virtually, or In Person

For the past three decades, corporate America has steadily expanded its use of 360-degree performance reviews. In a typical year, SLDI conducts several of them as part of its coaching and consulting engagements.

Companies find 360-degree reviews quite valuable, because they provide feedback which no other assessment vehicle provides them.

Popular assessments, such as the DiSC, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and the Core Values Index (CVI), examine the inner world and behavioral patterns of a specific individual. But they tell us nothing about how others view the individual's performance or how the person's behavior affects others.

A 360-degree fills this void. It gathers data on how an individual is perceived by upline management, peers, and direct reports. Input from customers and clients may also be solicited. The goal is to look at the person's performance through the eyes of observers from all sides. Thus the name "360-degree review."

A common variant of the 360-degree review is the 180-degree review. It foregoes perspectives from upline management and captures input only from peers and workers downline from the party being reviewed.

Our Online 360-Degree Review

Most companies today prefer to use an online 360-degree review process. For online reviews, SLDI has licensed a highly automated platform which manages communication with reviewers, captures their input, analyzes this input, and produces detailed reports with regard to the findings.

Yet, this product is fully customizable to maxmize value to our corporate clients. Among other things, the corporate client can customize:

  • the number of people to be reviewed
  • the number of respondents to be surveyed for a particular subject's review
  • how many categories of topics the review will touch on
  • the specific questions in each category
  • the wording of each question
  • the rating scale to be used
  • and the way the results will be disseminated

Clients can even choose to use different catetories of topics and/or questions for different individuals reviewed.

SLDI handles all of this customization, under the guidance of the client's designated representative. This allows companies to make use of a fine-tuned 360-degree instrument without an undue investment of internal effort and manpower.

SLDI can also conduct some or all of the feedback sessions to those who have been reviewed. In short, SLDI provides you a turnkey solution for online 360-degree reviews.

Interview 360-Reviews

As popular as online 360-degree reviews are, some companies see the unsurpassed value of a 360-degree review conducted through a process of personal interviews with those evaluating the subject.

The interview approach provides unique benefits. An astute interviewer is able to glean far more information through interviews than is possible with an online instrument. That's because the interviewer captures not only the respondent's words, but also non-verbal messages surrounding the words. A conversational interview also invites the use of follow-up questions to delve deeply into significant feedback.

The major disadvantages of the interview approach is that it is time intensive. And because it may require hours of an interviewer's time, it is also somewhat expensive to administer. The benefits are such, however, that some organizations opt for the interview process, in spite of he higher cost. SLDI typically contracts two or three times a year to conduct an interview style 360-degree review.

As with the online approach, SLDI's interview 360 is fully customizable. The client defines the topics on which feedback is desired and helps finalize the questions which will be posed.

Questions and Answers About 360-Degree Reviews

The answers appear when you click on a question.

►    Why is 360-degree feedback important?

360-reviews provide a number of benefits, three in particular.

  • First, the feedback gives the worker being reviewed a clearer sense of how co-workers in the organization view his or her performance and professionalism. Do these perceptions generally conform with the worker's own self-perception? If not, then certain questions naturally follow. What accounts for the difference in perceptions? Lack of self-awareness on the worker's part? Misperceptions on the part of co-workers? And what can be done to change perceptions so that they are in closer alignment?
  • Second, 360-degree reviews tend to elicit more candid and forthright comments from co-workers than might be derived otherwise. Strict rules of confidentiality surround the 360-degree review process. As a result, people feel free to be open and quite straightforward in their assessments.
  • Third, 360-degree reviews ascertain whether the worker shows the same face to superiors which peers and subordinates see. In management positions, it's common to find people who project a completely different image to those above them and to peers than they do to those reporting to them. Feedback from a 360-degree review can isolate instances in which this is occurring.

►    How is a 360-degree review conducted?

It's vital for 360-degree reviews to be conducted in such a way that the anonymity of those making input is protected. That is, the feedback to the person being reviewed must mask the specific identity of who offered a particular comment or evaluation. Being able to assure interviewees of this anonymity is vital to maintaining the candor which the process depends on.

An early step in the review process is to identify the people to be in the cohort which makes input. This cohort is agreed to by upline management, HR, and the person who is the subject of the review.

As for the mechanics of the review, SLDI offers two different approaches to administering it. One is to ask the reviewers to complete an online survey. The other is to conduct a personal interview of the people making input. Each has specific advantages.

  • Online assessments are less expensive, can be completed quickly, and are less challenging to administer.They can also easily accommodate input from a sizable group of reviewers. And because the process is so heavily automated, online assessments are quite cost-efficient.
  • The primary benefit of the interview process is that it often produces much deeper insight than an online assessment. The factor which accounts for this added insight is the interviewer's ability to ask follow-up questions to a reviewer's specific response. Yet, this approach demands major blocs of time from the interviewer, adding significantly to the assessment fee. Still, for many companies the greater insight from an interview-style review is a worthwhile investment.

►    How large should the cohort of co-workers be for the review?

Based on our experience, this cohort should never be less than eight or nine people. Otherwise the sample of opinions is probably not broad enough to get an accurate picture of co-worker perceptions.

We have found that having about a dozen people in the cohort is somewhat ideal. On occasion, at a client's request, we have conducted 360s with 15, 16, or even 18 people. Once we have input from eleven or twelve people, however, we find that additional input does not typically alter the outcome significantly.

However, we do make one exception to this rule of thumb on cohort size. If the 360 is to include input from customers or clients, a slightly larger cohort is called for to assure an adequate sample of external viewpoints.

►    How does SLDI determine the questions to ask in a 360-degree review?

Whether we utilize an online instrument or an interview process, our 360-degree reviews are thoroughly customized to address specific topics or areas of concern for those requesting the review. For instance, some 360s are heavily weighted around a person's communication skills. Others more heavily weighted around delegation skills.

We do not prejudge what questions should be asked. Rather, through preliminary dialogue with upline managers and HR personnel, we identify categories of questions to pursue. We then draft a set of questions to cover these categories and submit these questions to HR for their signoff.

As part of this design process, we can provide clients scores of sample questions, encompassing more than 20 different performance categories. Clients can then revise or tailor any subset of these questions to meet their review objectives.

If we can address other questions for you, feel free to email us.