When I talk to people who live in the corporate world, I hear a lot about 360 evaluations. I know they serve a purpose but here’s why I don’t like them:
Most people I coach have an issue spending too much time being concerned about what other people think of them. I know this isn’t a problem for everyone but for some of my clients, it’s a problem. I have clients who worry about what other people think about them no matter if it’s the boss, their colleagues, the neighbor, the housekeeper, or strangers at the bus stop. They worry about the kind of car they drive. “Does it look too expensive?” or “Does it look too cheap?” They worry about the clothes they wear. “Do I look professional?” or “Does this make me look to needy?” They worry about what they’ve said or didn’t say. “Maybe I should call and explain…” People with this problem don’t have the ability to measure themselves from an internal perspective. And for some people, 360 evaluations are a way for them to stay stuck in this programming of never-ending external criticism of themselves. If these type of people know they will be measured by a 360 evaluation, their focus will be on pleasing those around them instead of doing a good job. They will go for scoring “points” with people instead of looking at the overall business and doing the best they can. So for some people a 360 evaluation is counter productive. For people who spend too much time focusing on external validations, their coach or HR professional should be helping them focus on their internal calibration of their strengths, work progress, and team communication.
It goes against my rule of providing timely feedback. As an adult, I’m expecting that if someone has a problem with me or something I’ve done, they tell me, face-to-face, and in a timely manner. I say “as an adult” as I expect people with a certain amount of maturity to be able to deliver this type of message with some sort of level of competence. Unfortunately, there are passive aggressive people everywhere and there are those who haven’t quite reached the maturity level of an adult no matter what their birth date says. 360 evaluations are a perfect feeding ground for passive aggressive people. They can sit on their comments, feedback or criticisms for a whole year and unleash them in an anonymous form. How does this help the person getting the evaluation? Any ability to rectify the behavior or issue has already long past. I think it’s pointless. For people who have passive aggressive tendencies, I believe they should spend some time learning how to give feedback when they have a problem. I do this with my coaching clients as well as in my All about Communication Course.
So for the people getting the evaluation and people who are giving the evaluation there are certain types of personalities that mess up the overall purpose of a 360 evaluation. As I’ve said before, build better individuals to build better companies. To do this, you can’t use one single method for everyone in an organization. It just won’t work.