The researcher has highlighted the research question, aim and objectives, before the specific introduction to give a clear picture of the dissertation.
1.1 Research Question
To ascertain whether 360 degree feedback could prove to be a promising appraisal mechanism for the staff motivation and development in the current economic crisis and funding cuts?
1.2 Aims and Objectives
The research sets out to explore the relevance of 360 degree feedback appraisal system in contrast to the traditional appraisal process currently functional in the library and technical services department of the University.
- What is 360 degree feedback and in what ways it could prove to be an efficient tool for continuous improvement, development?
- What is the current functional appraisal technique in the universities library/technical services department and the benefits of introducing 360 degree feedback as an appraisal tool?
- To analyse the functions/pitfalls of introducing 360 degree feedback within the library/technical services department of the University, with an emphasis on its use for the continuous improvement, development and motivation of the staff.
1.3 Specific Introduction
“University staffs tend to report high levels of stress at the best of times, and academic staffs usually rate their experience of stress as higher than other staff groups in the higher education setting,” (Easton and Laar, 2010).
The current funding cuts by the government and the global financial crisis demands a major change in the way various processes function across universities in United Kingdom (UK). The current study is an endeavour to address the numerous limitations in between the traditional appraisal system and the 360 degree tool. The researcher aims to expand the literature that previously exists on the 360 degree appraisal system and to analyse why the gap exists in between both the processes. The researcher’s primary focus is on the staff motivation and personal development as the key factors that need consideration within the University of Huddersfield. The researcher has given a thorough critical analysis of the 360 degree feedback appraisal system through the review of the academic literature and has focussed on identifying whether or not there are any benefits of using 360 degree feedback over the traditional appraisal systems. As stated by Mason, et.al, (2009), multi-rater feedback is by far the best tool for staff development and monitoring effective continuous development in any organisation. Borman, (1997); Javitch and Burke, (1995); Yammarino and Atwater, (1997) state that one of the elementary assumptions of the 360 degree feedback approach is about the employees specific workplace behaviour and when compared to an individual’s perception, can act like a catalyst and prove extremely beneficial for enhancing the employees self awareness, self development, motivation and subsequent behavioural change (Church, 2000). Concurrently, Cardy, et.al., (2011), critic that although the evaluation from 360 degree feedback includes feedback from all directions – managers, colleagues, customer’s and the responses from all the point of views propose immense probability for improvement, insight and learning, the feedback from these multiple source seldom agree. On the rating scale, colleagues may rate some characteristics higher while managers may rate those very characteristics lower and likewise. The whole prototype of 360 degree feedback interpretation and evaluations can draw a perplexing image of the feedback which will hardly be of any significance to the individual in improving their performance. The underlying rationale of this study has been to evaluate the pros and cons of the traditional appraisal system currently functional in the university, and to analyse by what extent the human resource department, can benefit by introducing 360 degree feedback as their employee appraisal mechanism, especially in relation to the motivation and development of staff.
1.4 Research Plan
The below figure (Figure.1) gives a diagrammatic representation of the research plan. The researcher has used the mind mapping technique to construct the research plan (Buzan and Buzan, 2007), which gives a clear picture of how the research task is carried forward as per the time line set by the researcher. The research plan has helped the researcher to carefully pre-plan the actions that needed to be taken during the research.
In the following chapters the researcher has critically analysed the 360 degree feedback tool. The literature review covers the latest developments in the 360 degree feedback mechanism along with a thorough comparison with the traditional appraisal system currently functional in the library and technical services department of the University of Huddersfield. The research methodology chapter gives a thorough account of the research design chosen by the researcher, the various techniques used for the research, discussions about the semi structured interviews and questionnaires, followed by the analysis of data, research findings and conclusion.
2 General Literature Review 12-21
– 2.1 Specific Literature Review 21-27
– 2.2 Summary of the Literature Review 27
2. General Literature Review
“The way 360 degree feedback is done seems to be critical to success…feedback interventions depend for their effectiveness on the extent to which they augment task motivation and encourage learning, although there are moderating variables such as the nature of the task,” (Kluger and De Nisi, 1996; Tyson and Ward, 2004).
360 degree feedback is an appraisal system used in strategic Human Resource management (HRM) as an intervention and an evaluation technique for personal development of the employees (Cardy, et.al, 2011; Fleenor, 2008; Tyson and Ward, 2004). It has also been referred as the ‘‘vital sign of the modern organization” (Fortunato and Smith, 2008; Church and Waclawski, 1998). In this process the employees receive confidential, anonymous response from colleagues, managers, customer’s, family members etc (Figure 2).
About three to five people fill out an anonymous online feedback form that asks questions covering a broad range of workplace competencies. The feedback forms include questions that are measured on a rating scale and also ask raters to provide written comments. The person receiving feedback also fills out a self-rating survey that includes the same survey questions that others receive in their forms. Various authors have outlined that 360 degree feedback is quite effective as it is a non bias process which makes performance management a more objective and fair process (CIPD, 2009), in contrast to the traditional appraisal processes where in a lot depends upon how the appraiser perceives the individual, which can be bias and less transparent. The 360 degree feedback has been used in many organisations for the development of staff members, and the gap in the two appraisal systems is due to the bias nature of the traditional appraisal mechanisms over the transparency of the 360 degree feedback process. While traditional measures of appraisal systems date back to decades, current literature highlights the multiple developments in the field of appraisal techniques (Dalton, 1996). One among the later developments in the field is the 360 degree feedback appraisal mechanism. This research has explored the relevance of 360 degree feedback appraisal system in contrast to the traditional appraisal process currently functional in the University. Specifically, the author has examined how employee motivation and personal development are affected by 360 degree feedback. The aim throughout the research has been on comparing the traditional appraisal system functional in the University of Huddersfield (UOH) with the 360 degree feedback methodology by exploring how it could contribute in the personal development and motivation of the staff members within the University of Huddersfield.
Meyer, (1991); and Folger and Cropanzano, (1998), disagree that evaluations of traditional appraisals are often positively inflated as usually the appraisers are not trained to give negative feedback, and if this is the manner in which the appraisals are conducted then the effectiveness of the performance management process will significantly be undermined (Guangrong, 2010; McCarthy and Garavan, 2001). Therefore one could state that if the tool if used accurately it can provide a non bias and more transparent appraisal system, which may decrease the possibilities of employee dissatisfaction in contrast to the traditional appraisal mechanism, and can emerge as an excellent motivational factor for the employees. As a matter of fact ‘360 degree feedback can significantly enhance the performance management process’ (Staff360, 2011; CIPD, 2009). However Fleenor, (2008) and Vinson, M.N. (1996) disregards the facts about the effectiveness of 360 degree feedback as people may use their role as a feedback provider as an opportunity to criticize others behaviour at work. According to Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, (2009) if the 360 degree tool is perceived to be in any way threatening, it can seriously damage both commitment and performance.
“It is important that people receive regular honest feedback on their performance. They should understand how their role contributes to overall organisational aims and objectives and how they are performing against agreed criteria. 360 degree feedback can enhance this process by widening the scope for information from the line manager relationship to embrace a wider range of opinion. However, it is important that this is carried out sensitively and fairly,” (Staff360, 2011).
Lepsinger and Lucia, (2009); Fleenor, (2008); Tyson and Ward, (2004) comprehend that there are direct evidences of employees performance improvements from 360 degree feedback appraisal mechanism. Various authors’ research prove that 360 degree feedback also results in improved customer satisfaction, improved management skills and these improvements motivate the employees to work on their identified strengths and use them for advancement in their carrier (Edwards and Ewens, 1996; Hazucha et al. 1993). Hence, the current study is an attempt to deal with the several limitations, and develop the literature that previously exists on the 360 degree appraisal system and to analyse why does the gap exist in between the traditional appraisal system and the 360 degree tool.
“The University of Huddersfield has charitable status as an exempt charity under Schedule 2 to the Charities Act 1993 (amended by the Charities Act 2006). It is therefore subject to charity legislation but is not required to register with the Charity Commission and is not regulated by it. As an exempt charity, the University does not have a registered charity number. In 2010, the Higher Education Funding Council for England took over as the ‘Principal Regulator’ for the institutions it funds and now has a general duty to promote compliance with charity legislation. This does not affect the University’s status as an exempt charity,” (hud.ac.uk, 2011).
The UK government’s educational funding slice and the recession hit economy demands a drastic alteration in the way various processes function across the Universities in UK. However, since the 360 degree feedback is a tool primarily developed and used mainly in the private sector organisations, there is a challenge in its implementation in a public sector or a third sector organisation and as in this case, the University of Huddersfield which is a registered for charity organisation. Brutus et al., (1998) support that the reactions to performance measurements may vary between public and private sector organizations—public sector managers underestimate their achievements compared with private sector managers, for example. Hence, based on these findings one could ascertain that there is a greater need for motivation and development of employees in the public/third sector organisations, and the 360 degree performance appraisal system is an HR’s ideal response to combat such issues. As suggested and supported by Lepsinger and Lucia, (2009); Borman, W.C. (1997); Javitch, M.J. and Burke, W.W., (1995); Yammarino, F.J. and Atwater, L.E. (1997), one of the elementary assumptions of the 360 degree feedback approach is about the employees specific workplace behaviour and when compared to an individual’s perceptions, can act like a catalyst and prove extremely beneficial for enhancing the employees self awareness, self development, motivation and subsequent behavioural change (Church, 1995, 2000).
The researcher has explored the 360 degree appraisals methodology that has become popular in human resource circles over the last few years, wherein the employee’s performance is assessed by their colleagues, managers and others and has analysed its benefits over the traditional appraisal processes. Brown, (2006) criticizes that while the 360 degree process seems like an interesting idea; it involves more meetings and many forms to be filled out in comparison to the traditional appraisal systems. However Maylett, (2009) and Wiley, (1993) supports that 360 degree feedback can prove to be a good instrument for the staff development as this process gives an individual in-depth performance feedback and hence based on the findings the employee can work on their personal development, by getting trained in the area where there weakness lies and the time lost in filling the extra forms are worth the effort. Arguments from different authors suggest that the feedback systems have always been into existence in the organisations in some form or the other, but of-late has been developed and given a name ‘360 degree feedback’ and according to Garavan, et al., (1997) 360 degree feedback process is like an ‘old wine in new a bottle’. It is also known as multi-rater feedback and is an appraisal process in which the individual is assessed by themselves, colleagues, managers, stakeholders, customers, etc. The 360 degree instrument can be used to achieve various goals and one aspect of it is the need of continuous measurement of improvement efforts, development of staff and their motivation. Ward, (1997) defined 360 degree feedback as ‘the systematic collection and feedback of performance data on an individual or group derived from a number of the stakeholders in their performance’.
”Because of their shorter expected tenure, women are less likely to be as motivated by the deferred rewards of career ladders. As a consequence, she argues that employers with large shares of women have historically used shorter-term rewards and undertaken more routine and extensive monitoring,” (Brown and Heywood, 2005; Goldin, 1986).
Various authors criticize that traditional appraisal techniques are not that effective in case of female employees and there are many incidences of gender bias in appraisals. Renowned authors, Brown and Heywood, (2005) support that ‘a major and recurrent criticism of the traditional appraisal process is its openness to subjective and discriminatory outcome’. The primary goal of this research has been to expand beyond the current literature by analysing the data and results to create suggested policies for the University of Huddersfield, to implement pertaining to the improvement of staff morale and productivity. Furthermore, on reviewing the growing body of literature and the research on 360 degree feedback, the researcher was able to identify the usefulness of having 360 degree feedback over the traditional appraisal processes in the University of Huddersfield; the study has also given ample scope to the researcher in developing more insightful questions. The author has identified the various factors on which the success of 360 degree feedback mechanism depends; the literature supports that more effectively the 360 degree instrument is implemented the better are the results. Newbold, (2008) highlights that that if the tool is implemented accurately, with the proper training and the correct resources, a 360-degree appraisal could prove to be a powerful and positive addition to any performance-management system. The 360 degree feedback has been used in many organisations for the development of staff members, and the gap in the two appraisal systems is due to the bias nature of the traditional appraisal mechanisms over the transparency of the 360 degree feedback process. Various authors have outlined that 360 degree feedback is quite effective as it is a non bias process which makes performance management a more objective and fair process (CIPD, 2009), in contrast to the traditional appraisal processes where in a lot depends upon how the appraiser perceives the individual, which can be bias and less transparent. Maylett, (2009); Meyer, (1991); Folger and Cropanzano, (1998), argue that evaluations of traditional appraisals are often positively inflated as usually the appraisers are not trained to give negative feedback, and if this is the manner in which the appraisals are conducted then the effectiveness of the performance management process will significantly be undermined (McCarthy and Garavan, 2001). Therefore one could state that if the tool if used accurately it can provide a non-bias and more transparent appraisal system, which may decrease the possibilities of employee dissatisfaction in contrast with the traditional appraisal mechanism, and can emerge as an excellent motivational factor for the employees. However Vinson, (1996) disregards the facts about the effectiveness of 360 degree feedback as people may use their role as a feedback provider as an opportunity to criticize others behaviour at work.
“Multirater feedback has several significant advantages over single-rater assessment. Rather than relying on the perceptions of one individual, multirater feedback takes into account multiple perspectives. Those working with the employee, along with the supervisor, are generally able to provide a more comprehensive picture of an employee’s behaviour or performance. This is especially critical when the supervisor does not have the opportunity to observe all areas of an employee’s performance,” (Maylett, 2009).
Maylett, (2009); DeNisi and Kluger, (2000) support that ‘360-degree feedback for decision making affects the actual ratings given to the individual being appraised and these systems should be primarily, if not exclusively for developmental purposes (Figure 3).’ Furthermore, the conditions in which 360 degree feedback work in an organisation largely depends upon the perception of 360 degree feedback’s potential to enhance human resource management system of the organisation.
As suggested by Lepsinger and Lucia, (2009) factors like culture (that supports openness and honest feedback) and systems (that minimise irrational responses and have built in ways to identify people whose ratings are untrustworthy) assess if the organisation is ready to implement the 360 degree feedback process, and the researcher has explored the possibilities of its implication in the University of Huddersfield, based on these grounds.
2.1 Specific Literature Review
This section of the dissertation takes a specific critical standpoint on whether 360° feedback as strategic Human Resource tool have a profound strategic justification in the University of Huddersfield (UOH) which is a registered for charity organisation (hud.ac.uk, 2011) . The researcher has given a critical account of the 360-degree feedback tool, as an option for performance development appraisals and for motivating the staff in performing better, in the registered for charity organisations. Currently, the 360 degree tool is not very common in the third sector, registered for charity organisations and the investigation could be a scope for a research elsewhere. According to Berk, (2009); and Fortunato and Smith, (2008) 360 degree feedback is an appraisal tool used by approximately 90% of the Fortune 1000 organisations (Fortunato and Smith, 2008; Bracken et al., 2001; Tornow and Tornow, 2001; Edwards and Ewen, 1996, 2001). Cardy, Leonard and Newman, (2011) believe that the increased popularity of the 360 degree feedback is unquestionable and that organisations have spent innumerable amount of funds in implementing the feedback system. However, Cardy et.al, (2011) argue that many Fortune 1000 companies have implemented the 360 degree feedback without having considered the purpose, which is not very advisable, as 360 degree feedback is at its best for staff development, motivation, and for administrative use such as in determining performance related salary. The utility of 360 degree feedback, mainly upward feedback, may be constricted when appraisers provide erroneous ratings (Bernardin and Tyler, 2001; Bracken and Timmreck, 2001). Kuvas, (2006) highlighted that the relationship between the performance appraisal and work is interrelated to the employee’s inherent motivation at work. For an employee to perform in an organisation, job satisfaction and motivation to execute an activity for itself, in order to experience the pleasure and satisfaction inherent in the activity (Kuvas, 2006; Deci et al., 1989; Vallerand, 1997). Cardy et.al. (2011) highlight that when feedback received from too many sources are used for the estimation of an employee’s performance the diverse sources of feedback seldom agree in their evaluation, although a broader understanding can be attained.
Analysis and criticism of traditional appraisal system in contrast with 360 degree feedback
The primary principle of appraisals is to put forward an opinion or feedback on how the employee performs in their current job role and to discuss further what could be done to facilitate the employee to perform the expected job, if they are not performing as per the objectives. Prowse and Prowse, (2009); and Randell, (1994) argue that appraisals are the systematic evaluation of an individual’s performance linked to the organisations culture and behaviour. The various departments in the University of Huddersfield (UOH) use different appraisal mechanisms. The computing and library services, technical services and other administration departments of the University use a competencies framework for the staff appraisals.
The appraisals are conducted half yearly (every 6 months) to follow up on the employees personal development plan. There are three documents that are usually taken in a one on one appraisal, the filled employee preparation form, the filled up competencies framework and the competency framework – Role Profiling document which provides a brief idea of which level each role is at (Figure. 4). After the discussion the appraising line manager fills up the appraisal record which both the appraiser and the ‘appraisee’ sign and get a copy. This process is followed up every 6 months (Please refer to appendix 1 for appraisal documents). The purpose of the process is to facilitate the employees to develop in a systematic way so that university as an organisation functions in the best possible way utilising the optimum talent identified. Various authors support that the appraisal system also offers an opportunity to put across and discuss the employee’s achievements over the past year with their managers to confer their performance in general and make plans for the year ahead. The performance appraisals are potentially a solution for the organisations to get the most out of their employees (Prowse and Prowse, 2009; Armstrong and Baron, 2005). The scheme currently functional in the university is highly participative, with a huge emphasis on appraisal ‘self’ and making sure that the staffs have a key responsibility in determining their own improvement and personal development (UOH, 2011).
“In order for an appraisal system to be absolutely flawless and effective a number of elements have to be in place, as in the understanding and agreement on performance goals, a process for collecting ongoing performance data and a framework of productive periodic review and formal appraisal discussions,” (Lepsinger and Lucia, 2009).
Although the current appraisals seemed to have worked fine till date, the literature provides evidence of the flaws in the traditional appraisal processes. Lepsinger and Lucia, (2009); and Lee, (2006) highlight that disagreement on set performance criterion, the line manager’s inability as an appraiser to process the bulk of information received and the employee’s need, while being appraised to defend their self image, are the key factors which act as a barrier in the smooth functioning of the traditional appraisals. It could be argued that the two parties involved in a traditional appraisal usually do not agree with the performance criteria set and it is highly likely that a difference of opinion may crop up between the appraisers and appraisee on what it takes to perform the job effectively. Prowse and Prowse, (2009); and Lee, (2006) argue that that the appraisal practice cannot be executed successfully unless the appraiser has the right interpersonal skills to provide the feedback to the appraisee. If the appraiser and appraisee do not come to a conclusion on what can mutually be agreed as a requirement for excellent performance, then it is quite evident that both may end up with diverse conclusions about the staff’s effectiveness in meeting the set performance criteria. Furthermore, rather than reassessing the actions necessary for a thriving performance at work, if the traditional appraisal attempts to achieve a specific target or result, it hardly does anything to seize the gap in perception or help the appraisee in comprehending what amendments are vital for their advancement and development in performing the job (Lepsinger and Lucia, 2009).
“Traditional performance appraisal systems are flawed in their design, implementation and use. Supervisors seldom are effective in using such systems because the assumptions that guide how we use performance appraisals are unsubstantiated,” (Lee, 2006).
Lepsinger and Lucia, (2009); and Lee, (2006) solicit to discontinue the use of the traditional performance appraisal methods and state that the traditional appraisal processes that rely upon ratings should be discontinued and advanced performance management mechanisms should be adopted which are designed to produce ample quantitative and qualitative information. The line manager’s inability as an appraiser to process the mass information received is another major issue in the traditional appraisal processes. The though process behind an effective appraisal is very complex. Experts break down the intricate process for collecting and processing information used in the appraisal process (Lepsinger and Lucia, 2009).
Merits of introducing 360 degree feedback as an appraisal tool in the University of Huddersfield
“Critiques of appraisal have continued as appraisals have increased in use and scope across sectors and occupations. The dominant critique is the management framework using appraisal as an “orthodox” technique that seeks to remedy the weakness and propose of appraisals as a system to develop performance,” (Bach, 2005).
As discussed previously The University of Huddersfield uses competencies framework for the staff appraisals. The competencies framework is a description of the relevant behaviours needed to be competent in the job roles and support the organisation in remaining an exceptional University. The competencies appraisal framework boasts to benefit the employees by providing precision of performance expectations, uniformity and fairness throughout the appraisal, allowing superior identification of individual development requirements and giving a clearer picture of required skills to progress in the career path. In turn the university benefits by a lucid method of continuous development and performance management, enabling the identification and prioritisation of improvement needs to facilitate the improved stipulation of the learning and development courses or other areas of development (Source: HR, 2011).
“360 degree feedback can make a positive contribution to the appraisal system. It can help to gain agreement on expectations, by using a broader range of information, and by facilitating open discussion,” (Lepsinger and Lucia, 2009).
There are numerous benefits of introducing 360 degree feedback in the University of Huddersfield. As per the discussions with the human resource staff and the appraising managers it can be argued that the current appraisal system functional in the university is not flawless. The bias nature of the one on one performance appraisals is prone to disputes among the appraising manager and the employees, and although the university has a procedure in place to resolve such conflicts it could still benefit by introducing 360 degree feedback along with the traditional appraisal mechanism to rule out any such possibilities of conflicts.
2.2 Summary of the Literature Review
To sum it could be concluded that the 360 degree feedback has a proven record as an excellent tool for staff development and motivation. The researcher has observed that the tool has become increasingly accepted in the organisations worldwide ever since the masses have discovered its value. Since the academic literature supports the research question proposed by the researchers.
3 Introduction to the Research Methodology 29
3.1 Research Design 29-33
3.2 Research Strategy 33-35
3.3 Review of Research Data Collection Methods 35-36
3.3.1 Semi-Structured Interviews – Qualitative Data 36
3.3.2. Questionnaires – Quantitative Data 37-39
3.4 Pilot Test 39
3.4.1 Questionnaire Pilot Test 1 40
3.4.2 Questionnaire Pilot Test 2 40-41
3.5 Alternate Research Methods considered but 41-42
3.6 Ethical Considerations 42-43
3.7 Methods of Data Analysis 43-44
3.8 Summary of the methodology 44
3. An Introduction of the Research Methodology
In this section of the research paper the researcher has explained the various types of research methods and techniques available, and used by the researcher, followed by a justification of why these methods have been considered appropriate for this dissertation and why the other methods have not been considered. The process of data collection and data analysis has also been described in this chapter.
3.1 Research Design
The researcher throws light on the research design and gives a general idea of how the researcher has gone about addressing the research question and description of its approach with rationality, followed by an account of the objectives derived from this research, gives an account of the sources which has been used in this research to collect data, and a description of the ethical considerations (Creswell, et.al. 2011; Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2009). To quote Saunders, et.al, (2009):
“Combining both quantitative and qualitative analysis ‘the researcher may possibly use the quantitative data and ‘qualitize’ it that is converting it into narrative that can be analysed qualitatively. Alternately, the researcher may ‘quantitise’ the qualitative data, converting it into numerical codes so that it could be analysed statistically,” (Saunders et.al, 2009).
The author has carried out the research by conducting semi-structured interviews followed by a brief experimental introduction of 360 degree feedback process, and the analysis of the results were done by the careful examination of combination of the mixed methods. Various authors justify that there are diverse rationales for research; however practitioner researchers are faced with queries that demand versatile responses (Creswell, 2003)
Hence, a mixed methods approach that uses qualitative and quantitative research can be considered as appropriate for several p