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360 Degree Appraisal



Assessment and Development Centres using simulation exercises can be very powerful techniques for determining and auditing levels of leadership capability in organisations. Assessment Centres in particular are also acknowledged to be very valid and reliable tools if used effectively.

At very senior levels these techniques are much more difficult to implement for a variety of reasons:

  • Time constraints
  • Limited availability of participants and other raters
  • Geographical disbursement
  • Impossibility of simultaneous participation
  • Exposure to colleagues
  • People at this level not wanting to “play games”

An alternative method is to conduct “live” 360-degree interviews. Instead of using a questionnaire based approach, the live 360 focuses on gaining qualitative data in order that behavioural themes can be elicited and fed back to individual participants. Similar to the Assessment Centre approach, this can be done against the framework of an organisation’s leadership capabilities, using a competency based interviewing format.

Steps in the process:

  1. Organisations nominate participants – this could be at certain levels of leadership when the process is triggered (such as promotion to being a “leader of leaders”). The participant then identifies a number of colleagues, typically their line manager(s), 2-3 peers, 2-3 Direct reports and potentially 2-3 external raters (clients, suppliers etc.).
  1. The participant completes a structured career history questionnaire.
  1. For each participant, appointments are scheduled between the consultant conducting the interviews and all of the nominated raters.
  1. Each rater, including the participant, is interviewed in turn, preferably by the same consultant, and the output is classified and evaluated against each of the behaviours and capabilities
  1. When each rater has been interviewed, the consultant integrates the information to collect behavioural themes and to provide the data required for a feedback / coaching discussion and a written report.


  • The report is sent to the participant and line manager
  • The participant and line manager have a three way coaching discussion with the consultant on the strengths, developmental themes and potential actions required to further enhance performance
  • An action plan is developed and incorporated into the individual’s development plan
  • On-going coaching as required


  • Real data are fed back to participants from people who are closest to them
  • The data are not individually attributable, so raters can be more honest, and this can be even more powerful
  • Having the line manager present means that in the moment coaching can be facilitated.

This process is most effective at transition stages of careers.

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