360° Performance Evaluations: An Assessment of the Attitudes of Human Resource Directors in the State of Texas
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Performance evaluations are an integral part of most Human Resource systems. For this reason, performance evaluation systems command an inordinate amount of research attention. This study assesses attitudes of Human Resource directors in Texas state agencies with regard to key aspects of the 360° performance evaluation process. First, an examination of literature identifies recurring themes, issues and characteristics associated with the implementation and use of 360° systems including organizational culture, anonymity, utilization, accountability, resources, training and rater variance. To assess attitudes regarding key characteristics of the 360° evaluation process, data were collected from Human Resource directors in Texas state agencies via survey questionnaires. Next, the study reports attitudinal findings from the survey with regard to key characteristics derived from the literature review. Results indicate that Human Resource directors generally agree with the information pertaining to the conceptual categories revealed through the literature review. The findings indicate, for example, that organizational culture is a strong predictor of the success or failure of the implementation of 360° feedback systems. There is also support for the incorporation of accountability mechanisms, training and resources. Interestingly, it is found that utilization of feedback data for purely developmental purposes does not necessarily preclude sharing data with supervisors even though the data will be included in performance appraisals. This is important because experts in the field argue that feedback ceases to remain purely developmental when it is shared with supervisors and included in the performance appraisal process. Finally, recommendations for future research are identified. One suggestion is to study organizations actually utilizing the 360° performance evaluation process. As agencies could potentially employ some, but not all, elements of 360, future research may focus on elements or portions of the process state agencies use. Subsequent studies may also include a population representative of all state agencies and may compare and contrast 360° systems in public and private sectors.