Last week I spent some time browsing a 360-related query in Twitter’s real-time search. Mixed in with the deluge of updates were tweets from individuals voicing reactions to 360° evaluation invitations. Some were pleasant, other were (quite vocally) not. While there wasn’t enough context on Twitter to be sure, I’d venture these 360 participants’ satisfaction levels were closely correlated to how well they were prepared for the experience. Here are a few tips for preparing employees for 360° evaluations:
1) Know your objectives well before you launch.
Not only will this help you ask the right questions and choose the right competencies, it will also prepare you for communicating objectives to employees and other relevant parties.
2) Clearly communicate your evaluation’s purpose.
The last thing you want to do is stir up confusion, fear and doubt. Let participants know up front why you’re collecting this data. Is it being used for development? Performance assessments? Both? Whatever you decide, be upfront about it.
3) Tell employees what you expect of them.
Express confidence in your employees’ ability to evaluate themselves and others with honesty and objectivity. Take the opportunity to walk through the evaluation process so that it’s clear to everyone. In many cases there will be employees who’ve never participated in a 360 evaluation before—use this opportunity to give all participants a refresher.
4) Disclose privacy issues fully.
Let the participants know exactly who will see the data, and who will not. If there’s any doubt, your data will most certainly be subject to unnecessary bias. Communicate the controls and measures that are enacted to assure anonymity. Facebook has been blasted over how they’ve dealt with privacy concerns and it would be a shame to instigate the same controversy in your organization.
5) Provide an open forum or line(s) of communication to discuss concerns.
It may sound difficult, awkward or unnecessary—but experience has demonstrated quite the contrary. Often times participants will ask helpful questions that answer common concerns you may have overlooked. Leaving participants without a voice will be detrimental to your evaluation and your organization’s relationships.
+ Bonus Qualtrics 360™ Tip: Use the customizable “Welcome Message” space as another avenue for communicating with participants and setting expectations. Imagine how helpful it would be to embed a video of the CEO greeting and educating each participant upon login! With the “Welcome Message” space you have complete creative control to set the tone for each evaluation.
After designing your evaluation, proper communication should be your primary objective. Remember that you have the ability to make this experience very pleasant, or very unpleasant—prepare accordingly!