What are your 360 assessment items?
Simply put, these are the consistent set of items that you want your employees to evaluate themselves and/or each other on. Most 360 assessments consist of 20-40 items, worded as behaviors. The most effective 360 assessments are based on a competency model (which often maps back to the organization’s desired culture or core values). This means that each behavioral item is designed to measure a particular competency and thus, it is common for organizations to cluster the items into the competencies that they measure.
Some example questions…
….and the Competency for that question
|Encourages collaboration among team members||Leadership|
|Is decisive when making difficult decisions||Decision Making|
|Listens effectively to others||Communication|
|Motivates others to adapt to organizational change||Change Management|
Tips for writing 360 items:
- Aim for 5-10 behavioral items per competency (depending on the number of competencies), but try not to exceed 60 total assessment items
- Write each item to focus on a single behavior and avoid common traps like “provides clear and concise feedback” — this is a double barreled item!
- It’s good practice to start each item with an action verb (e.g., Communicates, Facilitates)
- Avoid overusing adverbs (e.g., effectively, concisely) to qualify your action verb, especially if you are using a Frequency Scale (e.g., Never > Always)
- Descriptive adverbs can be appropriate for Agreement Scales (i.e., Strongly Disagree > Strong Agree)
- Think about whether your items could be interpreted differently by different raters
- Be careful not to use jargon or overly technical language that some raters may not be able to understand
- Avoid culturally biased items when administering 360s internationally, e.g., does a term or behavior mean something different in a different culture?
- Look out for items that are not actionable. If you find one, consider rewriting or removing it
- Mixing items throughout your survey (i.e., not organizing the items by competency) can lead to confusion and even distrust. Raters and ratees may question the motives behind this
- Including a free text box for each competency allows for more targeted and actionable feedback. But be careful not to make the assessment too time consuming – doing so can lead to rater fatigue and ultimately less accurate ratings
- Finally, it’s also good practice to include a final text box at the very end of the assessment – this allows the raters to provide specific feedback that might not have been covered by the items in the assessment