How Do I Select a 360 Degree Feedback Vendor?
By: Marcie Levine
Given the large increase in the number and types of companies that will help you deploy a 360 assessment, how should you select the right company for you?
There are four major categories of companies to choose from:
1. Self-service survey tools.
This technology is used for surveys, and with some modifications, can be used for 360s.
The pros for this type of technology are that they are typically user-friendly (for both assessment administrators and raters alike), and they can be inexpensive to deploy.
The cons include the fact that many of these companies didn’t originally design their technology for 360s and added on functionality so that they can sell this type of deployment.
Review their reports carefully – will they work for you? Also, know that most of these companies will not be able to support your questions on the 360 process. So, if this is the first time to deploy a 360 it might not be the right choice for you.
2. Self-service feedback tools designed for ongoing feedback from different people on an ad-hoc basis.
These feedback tools are a newer way of soliciting feedback, especially in millennial-based organizations where the employees are used to using technology to do most tasks. Why call or talk to someone when you can put out a short survey asking for feedback and reviewing comments when you have a few moments?
The pros here are the ownership of the process by the people who are asking for the feedback, ease of use, and the ability to send out short surveys on a frequency that works for you (which may be different for different people).
The cons include the fact that if employees aren’t comfortable with receiving feedback they might not fully use the system, employees can determine who they will ask for feedback, so might not hear from a wide range of respondents.,
This type of feedback makes a great adjunct to the more formal 360-degree feedback process. To use these tools, be sure that the employees are trained to understand and use this type of program so that the feedback is professional in nature.
3. Non-self-service platforms.
These platforms allow you to drive the process, with professional support along the way.
Pros here include the idea that you make a lot of the decisions (what competencies and questions to use, what response scales, relationship labels, etc.), while having an assessment expert guide you with best-practices and pros and cons of your different decisions. These companies will also have libraries of questions to share with you, as well as support in the design of the assessment. It is also easy to track feedback over time and collect demographic and aggregate data to inform more strategic training initiatives.
Cons include being able to have an assessment administrator who can coordinate with the vendor to make the selections and decisions needed for a successful outcome. Also, it is important to consider how people will receive their reports and understand the messages in the feedback. This can be done with internal HR staff, consultants, coaches or white papers.
This type of technology is useful for both organizations new to the 360-feedback process, as well as those who have done them before. They work for in-house assessments as well as for consultants. Note: This is where SurveyConnect and our ActiveView platform fit.]
4. Organizations that have a platform for 360s as an added service to project-based or ongoing consulting and/or coaching.
In these cases, you usually have some type of broader development initiative (either for an individual or small group), and the 360 deployment is a piece of that program.
Pros include having access to consultants that can deploy standard and custom assessments, and will provide ongoing development and coaching as part of their scope of work. Normative data may also be provided as part of their services.
Cons can include cost and the time needed for this ongoing leadership intervention.
Many times, these services are used at the top of the organization, for high performers, as an intervention for someone who needs extra support, or when normative data is imperative.