360s: Levels of Assessments

Should all participants in a 360 feedback process be rated on the same set of questions?

Some clients have all participants (people being rated) rated on one set of questions; other have many sets of questions based upon the participant’s position.  My advice is:

  • If the assessment is values-based, typically all participants, even at different levels of the organization, can be rated on the same set of questions.
  • If the assessment is more behavior-based, and participants are all at the same level of the organization, even if they are in different locations or departments, they can all be rated on the same set of questions.   An exception here may be if there are extensive cultural differences that need attention.
  • If the assessment is more behavior-based, and participants are at different levels in the organization, I recommend several assessments based upon these levels.

So, how many assessments should be created for participants that are at different levels of the organization?

Generally, you want enough variety in the assessments to ensure relevancy of the responses—after all, that’s why you’re doing this in the first place — however, there is no reason to generate more than 3 – 5 assessments for an entire (large) organization.  For example, there can be one assessment for the Executive Level (very strategic), one for SVPs and VPs (mostly strategic), one for Directors and Managers (more of a mix of strategy and tactics), one for first line Supervisors (more tactical), and one for individual contributors (all tactical).

Other considerations:

The more assessment forms you create, the more specific the feedback may be for that particular set of individual participants, however, you probably want some aggregated data for institutional use too.  If this is the case, a fewer number of assessments will allow you to roll-up more participants to view this institutional data. Try and create a balance between these two sets of objectives.

Caveat:  This information is based upon 80% of the questions I receive from clients.  There may also be other  good reasons to have additional levels of assessments – it basically comes down to the objective(s) of your 360 project.