Implementing an effective performance appraisal system is key for meeting a wide range of organizational goals, from employee retention to talent development.

employee meeting

Understanding the best type of performance appraisal for your organizational needs as well as how to overcome the traditional barriers to effective performance assessments, however, can be challenging.

For many companies and positions, a 180 degree performance appraisal can be the most productive and constructive form of performance appraisal, offering a myriad of benefits for your organization and your employees alike–and here’s why.

180 Degree Performance Appraisal Uses

First, what is a 180 degree performance appraisal?

Simply put, it’s a performance assessment that takes into account two points of evaluation. Typically these two evaluations come from the employee being reviewed (in the form of a self-appraisal) and the employee’s direct manager or supervisor. In some cases, the two evaluations come from the employee being appraised and their direct report. This type of 180 degree performance appraisal can be particularly effective when an employee’s managerial style and performance is the main issue at the center of the evaluation. A 180 degree assessment takes into account the self-assessment of the employee being appraised.

Because the employee being reviewed is given the opportunity to reflect and comment on their own performance, a 180 degree performance appraisal usually enables a more well-rounded performance conversation. This is in comparison to a traditional performance appraisal where only the employee’s manager provides feedback.

Goals Of 180 Degree Performance Appraisals

To truly understand why a 180 degree appraisal can be such an effective way to review an employee’s performance, let’s first examine the goals of a performance appraisal system.

Most organizations (and most positions) have five main goals when administering performance appraisals:

  1. To enable supervisors to observe their employees more closely and improve their ability to coach and provide guidance;
  2. To boost employee morale, motivate and provide critical performance feedback;
  3. To facilitate the collection of key data that provides backup for management decisions such as merit increases, bonuses, transfers, promotions, dismissals, and more;
  4. To bolster overall organizational development by pinpointing employees who demonstrate leadership potential and highlighting development needs; and
  5. To help establish a reference point for making personnel decisions.

Clearly, an effective performance appraisal system is critical for keeping your organization running smoothly and successful. So why is a 180 degree performance appraisal often the best choice for meeting these goals?

Choosing 180 Degree Performance Appraisals To Meet Goals

Whether or not you already have a formal performance appraisal system in place, many organizations and companies struggle to meet these five key goals.

A traditional performance appraisal where only the manager’s feedback is considered shuts off dialogue between the employee and their supervisor, and this lack of open communication can severely undermine the entire point of conducting performance appraisals. Clear-cut structure and specifically targeted questions help lead to a more successful performance appraisal.

On the other hand, the openness and clarity offered by a 180 degree performance appraisal improves your chances of having a truly effective performance review.

Disconnects between an employee’s understanding of their role and their supervisor’s expectations can be revealed and addressed. Underperforming employees have the opportunity to discuss ways that they can improve while those who are surpassing expectations can express thoughts on their professional development.

Keep in mind that a 180 degree performance review doesn’t just help your organization; it helps your employees, too. Professional development and career goal setting are facilitated by an effective performance appraisal. In turn, employees who feel heard and considered tend to be harder working, more motivated and more dedicated to their employer.

Read: 180 Degree Feedback Examples

180 Degree Performance Appraisal Downsides

Of course, no performance appraisal system can be perfect, and there are certain downsides that you should be aware of when considering whether or not to use 180 degree performance appraisals.

The biggest downside of 180 degree performance appraisals is that they aren’t ideal for higher ranking employees who handle multiple levels of reports and interact with outside clients or customers frequently.

In such cases, by limiting feedback to the employee’s self-assessment and their manager’s evaluation, you stand to miss many key data points that are necessary to truly assess such employees’ performance. Avoid common mistakes made by companies during 180 assessments, such as failing to communicate purpose or misusing data.

Outside of these highly-ranked employees, however, a 180 degree performance appraisal typically balances time savings and in-depth feedback well.

How To Conduct A 180 Degree Performance Appraisal

If you’ve decided that performing 180 degree performance appraisals is right for your organization, where exactly do you start when looking to implement such an assessment system?

First and foremost, one of the major benefits of a 180 degree performance appraisal system is that is should be easy to introduce and administer.

Depending upon your current review system, you may have slight pushback from employees who aren’t used to filling out self-assessments, as well as from managers and supervisors who are reluctant to dedicate the time to organizing appraisal meetings for multiple employees.

Perhaps the easiest way to overcome this barrier is to clearly explain to both appraisers and appraisees how the process works as well as its main benefits. Clearly outlining what is expected of them and the important dates in the process can help the transition to a 180 degree performance appraisal system go smoothly.

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Utilizing 180 Degree Performance Appraisals

In many cases, looking outside of your organization to a professional performance management solutions provider can make the transition to a 180 degree appraisal program easier.

But, how?

Such providers can help you cut through many of the barriers to an effective appraisal–emotion, institutional inertia, lack of objectivity–and allow you to set up open discussions enabling you to meet your performance review goals.

This way, you can be sure that your organization is using the 180 degree performance appraisal to its fullest potential.

You may also be interested in these 180 degree performance appraisal resources: