Questions to Consider

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But many questions arise when decision-makers contemplate using full-circle,

multirater assessments. Among them are the following:

1. Who will be assessed, and by whom will they be assessed?

2. What will be assessed? Will it be present performance, future potential,

or both?

3. When will the assessment occur?

4. Why is the assessment being conducted? Since full-circle, multirater assessment

is expensive, will the benefits in improved accuracy and credibility

of results outweigh the costs?

5. How will the assessment be conducted? Will it be conducted online, on

paper, or by a combination? What will be done with the results, how

will the results be interpreted and fed back to the individuals, and how

will they be used?

These questions should be answered before the organization undertakes

the use of full-circle, multirater assessments. (Use the worksheet appearing in

Exhibit 8-2 to consider these questions.)

Advantages and Disadvantages of Full-Circle, Multirater Assessments

There are many advantages to full-circle, multirater assessments. They consolidate

feedback from many people surrounding an individual about his or her

present performance or future potential. The feedback alone is powerful in

creating an impetus for change and individual development. Moreover, the

ratings have much power in tapping into multiple perspectives, since (as the

old saying goes) ‘‘what you think depends on where you sit in the organization.’’

But there are disadvantages to full-circle, multirater assessments, and they

should be considered before the organization incurs the expense of using

them. First, these assessments can be expensive and are thus worthwhile only

when decision-makers know what they want and why they want it. Second, if

individuals are rated against criteria such as competencies or work require-

Assessing Present Work Requirements and Individual Job Performance 191

Exhibit 8-2. A Worksheet for Considering Key Issues in Full-Circle,

Multirater Assessments

Directions: When decision-makers begin thinking about using full-circle, multirater

assessment, there are many issues they should clarify at the outset.

Use this worksheet to help guide their thinking. For each question appearing in the

left column below, take notes about their answers in the right column. There are no

‘‘right’’ or ‘‘wrong’’ answers in any absolute sense, of course. But it is important to

clarify the answers to these questions.

Questions Answers

1. Who will be assessed, and by whom

will they be assessed?

2. What will be assessed? Will it be

present performance, future

potential, or both?

3. When will the assessment occur?

4. Why is the assessment being


5. How will the assessment be conducted?

(Will it be conducted online,

on paper, or by a combination?)

6. What will be done with the results,

how will the results be interpreted

and fed back to the individuals, and

how will they be used?

ments that are not unique to the corporate culture (as is true if off-the-shelf or

online instruments are used without modification), the results may not be too

useful or meaningful. In fact, the results may be misleading. After all, performance

and potential are influenced by the corporate cultural context in which

individuals perform. Third, when large numbers of people are subjected to

these assessments, the task of data analysis can be daunting. (Consider: one

person may have as many as twelve raters. If 100 people are subjected to assessment,

that means 1,200 ratings must be compiled and fed back individually.)

Feeding Back the Results of Full-Circle, Multirater Assessments

Since the last edition of this book was published, I have had ample opportunity

to conduct full-circle, multirater assessments during consulting engage-

ments. And one insight I have gained from those experiences is that it is not

so much the initial design of the assessment that is so important as it is the

feedback session that occurs after the assessment. When the full-circle, multirater

assessment of an individual is finished, what is done with that? That is

the key question, and it is worthy of some consideration.

The results of a full-circle, multirater assessments can be helpful in pinpointing

present performance gaps or future developmental gaps. The feedback

session—which can occur in a meeting conducted by an immediate

supervisor, HR professional, external consultant, or some combination of all

of these—must be well planned. The goal should be to establish a plan for

improvement (if the meeting focuses on present performance), an individual

learning plan (if the meeting focuses on future potential), or both.

Begin the meeting by presenting the results of the assessment. Start with

small talk to set the person at ease. (If you wish, provide the assessment to the

person before the meeting so that he or she has had time to study it.) Then

provide the feedback, hitting the high points. Walk the person through the

results and then offer interpretations. Be sure to mention strengths as well as

weaknesses. If you wish, you may ask the person what he or she believes the

results might mean, what could be done about them, and what actions should

be taken.

It is worth noting that individuals cannot necessarily identify the best strategies

for developing themselves for the future. That is input that the immediate

supervisor should provide and that is why it is worth having the immediate

supervisor in the room if the feedback session on the full-circle, multirater

assessment is provided by an HR professional or external consultant. The

immediate supervisor is best positioned to provide input about the corporateculture-

specific developmental assignments that could build essential competencies,

and the immediate supervisor is also best positioned to describe

specific situations that may explain an individual’s ratings. When the meeting

is over, a development plan should have been agreed to. It can then be filed

or placed on an online system for later review.

The Future of Full-Circle, Multirater Assessments

It is likely that full-circle, multirater assessment will only be used more frequently

in the future. For that reason, those managing SP&M programs should

become familiar with sources that describe how to establish and use them.22