One question we often get asked is if we can provide benchmarking data for our 360s. Generally the question goes something like, “Can you give us some data to show how a senior engineer (or whatever) in a technology company should be scoring?” The answer of course is ‘no’, not because we’re being unhelpful, but because it’s a bit more of a complicated question than it seems on the surface.
What people usually mean when they are looking for competitive data is one of two things: a) can we show how individuals in their organisation have performed in comparison to their colleagues or b) can we show how their organisation has performed in comparison to other organisations.
Of course, from a technical point of view all things are possible – but are they valid and are they useful?
Producing data which compares the results of individuals within the same organisation is often a useful thing to do. And because the appraisees and raters all come from the same organisation with the same cultural values and standards we can be reasonably confident that a fairly uniform marking standard has been applied across the piece. So a comparison within the boundaries of that organisation may well be a useful piece of management information for training needs analysis and the like.
But when different organisations are involved it’s a completely different story. Different organisations can have very different cultural values and norms. And on top of that how would we know if an appraisee doing a Director’s 360 is an aspiring young manager looking for promotion or an experience director at the top of his career? We don’t. And neither do we know how the standards applicable in a small hi-tech company in Reading compare to a large mining company in Australia. And even if we did, would the results be useful? We think not.
So our advice is: by all means use comparisons within your own organisation for the right reasons, otherwise leave well alone.