Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.

360’s: anonymous or not? Depends whether you’re a kiwi or Aussie!

Here at Elephant we partner with CSB (formerly Sonar6) a funky looking & easy to use on line performance management system. When companies buy the system and want to have it customised, that’s where we come in. Much of the implementation process is actually about HR questions – what culture do you want to create? What processes with your reviews link to? How do you want to measure your KPI’s or competencies? And that’s our area of expertise.

Now one of the tools that can be switched on in the system at the click of a button is a 360 function.

360 degree reviews are most often used for managers to get feedback from all sides – from their teams, their fellow managers, and their senior management team or Board. And in the CSB system you can choose to have the comments and ratings that people make either show up as anonymous or have people’s names next to them.

Of course there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches (as with many aspects of people management!)

Using anonymous 360’s

There are a couple of advantages to this:

  • Employees may be more open with providing honest feedback if they know their name won’t be against it
  • Managers can focus on the overall results rather than focus on who said what

But there are some disadvantages too:

  • Managers immediate start trying to figure out who said what and don’t focus on the actual results
  • Because they may not remember a specific example and don’t know who said it, they can’t always learn from the information given
  • Employees can make comments without any accountability

Putting names against 360 comments

So the alternative is to have the name of the person making each 360 ratings and comment. The advantages of this include:

  • Employees have to take accountability of what they say so be specific
  • Feedback may be more well worded as the person knows the receiver will know it’s them
  • It creates a culture where people can give feedback positively

Of course there are disadvantages too including:

  • Less people may give feedback as they don’t want to give negative feedback for a variety of reasons
  • People may not be honest (e.g. if someone wants brownie points they could give great feedback even if it’s not the truth)

Which to choose?

Having now worked with over 100 companies on this issue (a quarter of these in Australia), we’ve found a couple of very interesting findings.

  1. Companies that haven’t had performance reviews before most often don’t use the 360’s to start so that people can get used to rating themselves and their teams first
  2. Almost all the Australian companies we’ve worked with use 360’s with the NAMES TURNED ON – so people can see who said what
  3. Almost all the New Zealand companies we’ve worked with use ANONYMOUS 360’s.

My personal belief having run training on cultural differences and talking about NZ v Australia is that because NZ is a more indirect culture we are uncomfortable giving feedback and taking accountability. Australia is a more direct culture and has far less issue with it.

So should your 360’s be anonymous or not?

It seems to depend which side of the ditch you’re on!

We’d be very interested to know if there is any research out there backing up our findings or what your thoughts and experiences are.


One comment on “360’s: anonymous or not? Depends whether you’re a kiwi or Aussie!

  1. Nicette
    September 14, 2014

    I like the Aussie approach. I like the direct approach as it helps me seek for more understanding of what I need to do to improve. It is important to have pre agreed rules to focus on the job not on the person. It requires a culture shift and it is not easy for people to be open and honest

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This entry was posted on August 5, 2013 by in Uncategorized.
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