Organizational Leadership News & Views

The value of 360-degree assessments to Organizational Leadership students

  • Alvernia MOL

Feedback can motivate us to push forward or it can cause us to refocus and change our behavior. With this in mind, 360-degree assessments are designed to ultimately help people improve their performance. For MOL students, this assessment translates into becoming better leaders.

A 360-degree assessment collects feedback from co-workers, peers, managers and generates direct reports to help employees understand their strengths and weaknesses. The benefit of gathering opinions from multiple sources is that the person being evaluated gets to see a wide range of perceptions on their behavior and performance. From this, they can determine what they need to do to create a positive and productive workplace.

The assessments are effective when they are acted upon and used. Changing behavior can be difficult, so self-reflection and planning are also key factors in applying information from 360-degree programs effectively.

360-degree assessments open employees, including leaders, to a greater depth of feedback. The method is well-rounded and focuses on personal and organizational development. Multirater feedback ensures more accurate and fair assessments.

The method is so valuable it is also used in leadership education. The course, MOL 520: Leadership Development 1, one of the first classes a student takes in the Masters of Organizational Leadership (MOL) program at Alvernia University, includes professional feedback, the foundation of 360-degree assessment. In the final semester of the MOL program, students receive a second round of professional feedback. These experiences underscore the belief that dialogue and reflection are important to developing into ethical and emotionally intelligent leaders.

In the article 5 Ways to Prepare Your Employees for 360-Degree Feedback,” CEO Ryan Smith offers steps leaders can take when preparing assessments for their organizations:

  • Define objectives. Figure out what the goals are and what should be achieved by the reviews.
  • Communicate purpose. An essential part of leadership is communicating purpose with staff. This carries through to 360-degree assessments – let employees know upfront why the data is being collected.
  • State expectations. The reviews are valuable if completed and follow-up actions are taken. When setting expectations, leaders may have to explain the nature of the assessment and reassure employees that it is a developmental tool that can strengthen, not hurt.
  • Disclose anonymity or attribution. Let all participants know exactly who will see the feedback and whether it will be attributed or anonymous.
  • Provide an open forum for questions. Give employees a chance to ask questions before, during and after the 360-degree appraisals.

A major benefit of 360-degree feedback is that employees can develop a level of awareness that can help them succeed in their careers and relationships with others. By implementing the reviews, leaders can develop themselves, their staff and organizations.

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