Have you ever subjected yourself to, or taken part in, a 360-degree appraisal? One sales manager notoriously did, and received back the anonymous comment from one of his direct reports: "I wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire."
It was not immediately clear what positive actions the sales manager could take from this feedback, but, thankfully, most insights from 360-degree research offer more useful pointers to help participants to improve their performance and their reputation.
With this in mind, Personnel Today decided to give the HR profession, as a whole, a 360-degree appraisal. First, in our 360-Degree Appraisal of HR survey, we asked our readers to rate the knowledge, performance, priorities and effectiveness of themselves and their HR department.
Then we went into the workplace and questioned directors, heads of department and line managers across eight different vertical sectors, including construction, transport, IT and social care, about their views on HR. The results make for compelling reading.
This research constitutes real feedback from real HR stakeholders. Whatever you, as an HR professional, think of the value and contribution of HR, it is secondary to what our respondents believe. Their perceptions, whether justified or not, form the most important half of the reality of your relationships with them.
As with most 360-degree appraisals, many of the results make for uncomfortable reading. In almost every area, line managers are more critical of HR than HR people are themselves prepared to be.
Respondents were asked to score on a scale of one to five, where five is for 'extremely' 4 for 'very' 3 for 'fairly' 2 for 'not very' and 1 for 'not at all'.
Any difference in score between HR professionals and managers of 0.5 or more identifies a clear difference of opinion.
How effective is HR?
We asked: "Overall, how effective is your HR department?"
HR professionals gave themselves a mean score of 3.65 - placing them closest to 'very effective'. Some 59% of them rated their HR department as 'extremely' or 'very effective'.
Managers reported a score of 2.71, which is some way below 'fairly effective'. Only 20% said their HR department was 'extremely' or 'very effective'. Another 43% said it was 'not very' or 'not at all' effective.
This leads us to two possible conclusions: either HR is not as effective as it believes it is, or