Magazine article Training & Development

A Product Review: 360 Assessments

Magazine article Training & Development

A Product Review: 360 Assessments

Article excerpt

Would you like to improve performance, increase employee retention, and build a more positive culture? Here's a product review of some top assessment tools to help you choose the one that will get the best results for your organization.

In recognition of the importance of human capital, organizations are spending billions of dollars to enhance human performance, including the use of 360 feedback tools. They provide accurate feedback, communication of the critical behaviors for success, and direction for individualized development planning. In addition to improved performance, benefits include positive culture change and better employee retention. Negative results can be a paper jungle, reports that aren't acted on, and little or uncertain results. With new tools being introduced every month, how do you choose the one that's best for your organization's needs?

There are many factors that influence 360-assessment effectiveness, but these are the most significant:

* integration with HR systems and business strategy

* valid content

* accurate responses

* clear, specific results

* helpful planning and development support

* measurable improvement.

Using those criteria, this article looks at 10 360 assessments and four systems that stood out from 30 products reviewed.

But before looking at a specific product, an organization has to understand its needs based on internal resources. Doing 360 assessments right requires measurement, technical, and administrative expertise (see the table). If all three are unavailable, go to a full-service provider. Measurement, or psychometric expertise, is the most critical. If your organization lacks that capability, it's advised to obtain a consultant experienced in measuring human development. If measurement expertise is available but technical resources aren't, then two options are a processing house or 360 assessment processing software. If your organization has all three resources, you may be able to conduct the 360 assessment in-house. But don't assume that because your company has the resources, they can be used to implement a 360-assessment effort. You must be able to commit the measurement, technical, and administrative resources fully. If not, you're better off looking for outside help.

Dedicated In-House Resources

360 Support Needed      Measurement   Technical   Administrative

Full-Service Provider                                   X
Consultant                               X
                                         X              X
Processing House/           X
Software                    X                           X
Internal                    X            X
                            X            X              X

Integration with HR systems and business strategy. This link is perhaps the most important factor of a 360 assessment in terms of success. Integration can take many forms. For example, the product the Seven Habits Profile is integrated with several tools for instilling critical concepts. NAI's 360 On the Net is integrated with a complete HR information system, HR Pulse. The type of integration that appears to have the most impact is a combination of major HR processes, including a business-driven competency [TABULAR DATA OMITTED] model, selection, succession, assessment, curriculum development, development planning and activities, training, follow-up, and progress monitoring. This type of integration is most evident in the Leader Navigator, The Profiler, and, to some extent, Synchrony and Voices.

Valid content. Full integration of an assessment with business strategy requires that the competencies being measured truly affect business effectiveness. Two approaches are used for determining 360-assessment content. One is to build a strong, comprehensive model containing skills known to be important for effective leadership (such as Benchmarks, Accumen Leadership Skills, and Multifactor Leadership Questionaire). …

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