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Using 360 Assessments and Career Pathways to Uplevel Your Talent

Employee reviews and assessments are multi-use tools. They not only provide employees with valuable feedback about their performance, but they also give company leaders a chance to dive deeper into each employee’s contributions. Together, these insights may help to reveal new career pathways within the company for the employee.

Many organizations are trading the standard annual review in favor of 360 assessments (sometimes called 360 degree feedback). The difference is that instead of relying solely on one person’s opinion or a set of metrics, company leaders gain feedback from multiple sources to craft a more accurate picture of an employees strengths and weaknesses.

However, many leaders fail to use 360 assessments to their potential. Because of their many moving parts, they get bogged down in the mechanics of how to use them. Don’t let the details undermine their value, though - let’s look at how to use 360 assessments to strengthen your top talent and retention.

The Building Blocks of 360 Assessments

Achieving optimal outcomes from 360 assessments requires a bit of groundwork before you start collecting feedback. In order for feedback to be useful and well-received by the employee, your team should understand what the 360s are and how they will be used. The right framing is important here: employees shouldn’t fear the results of a 360. Ideally, they will view them as growth opportunities, both personally and within the company. 

They should also trust that their 360s will remain confidential. This can help remove some of the pressure they may be feeling and start to view the 360 for what it is: a for-your-information teaching tool. 

Keep the Parameters Simple

When starting a 360 assessment, a less-is-more approach works really well. Remember, everything you measure in the assessment will need to somehow bring value to the process. When you can focus on only a handful of priorities, then you’re more likely to treat all of them like priorities.

Think about what you really want to measure. Then, decide who in your employee’s circle would be the best resources for those things. Make it easy for those people to offer their thoughts while also getting the depth of information you need to provide meaningful feedback to the employee. A basic format to follow is to divide your assessment into three categories: strengths, areas to develop, and action steps. 

Relate Action Plans to Career Paths

Assessments aren’t dust collectors on a shelf. For them to work, employees must be able to take the feedback and apply it to their growth and development. The action plan should directly relate to the employee’s strengths and areas of development. Leaders can also take this a step further by showing employees how those action steps relate to their career pathing. 

If you’re not sure about their ambitions, the 360 can be an excellent ice breaker. As a leader, it’s your job to be the mentor and coach and guide your team. Use the 360 to start the conversation, then provide feedback often to keep the conversation going.


Need help getting started? Explore our free business leadership resources to maximize your 360 assessments.

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