Is it a 360 or a performance review?

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About twice a week we get some paper forms from a client that we review.  Often we consult on how the forms or designed and of course we regularly are asked to quote for an online 360 degree feedback solution or a performance review system . Our solutions are interchangeable but there are pros and cons to whether we consider the forms to describe a 360 or an annual appraisal.

The reason this is an issue is that increasingly we are seeing multi-rater feedback (usually an academic’s phrasing for a 360) being used in an annual appraisal. A good example is law firms who wish to get feedback on how various pieces of work (matters in the lingo) have been performed over the year.  Those matters will have had different lead partners who should be invited to comment on the individual’s contribution.

I like to keep 360 degree feedback and performance appraisals separate in my mind though. I consider a 360 degree feedback to be behaviours driven – and be essentially developmental in nature. An appraisal is more around ‘what got done’ with a 360 considering how it got done. That a performance appraisal may have some elements that require more than one person to input on them is a secondary issue.

Although this is only terminology it does matter to recipients of 360s or performance appraisals that we are clear on the purpose. In particular, where you are asking for feedback from peers and direct reports everyone needs to be very clear on how the information they provide will be used.


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