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Too Many Raters in 360 Degree Reviews

“More is better!” Well, that’s not always the case when it comes to 360-degree review raters. In preparing to collect feedback from peers, customers, supervisors, or direct reports, you might want to hear from everyone.

Unfortunately, too many raters could lead to ratings “averaging out.” That means two things:

  1. There might not be anything different between the third person’s rating and the seventh’s. They’ll probably be pretty similar.
  2. More raters bring the average scores to the middle. It’ll be hard to see areas where you exceed or don’t meet expectations.

It’s always good to request feedback, but you’ll miss important feedback or trends because of the averages. Instead, find the right number of raters so the feedback is there with the benefit of multiple perspectives.

So what’s the right number?

  • 1-2: With such a low number of raters, the feedback is no longer anonymous. One skewed rating could also be an outlier, but without other raters, you wouldn’t know if that’s typical behavior or someone being severely subjective.
  • 3-4: Here’s a good sweet spot because if there is an extreme rater, the others provide the balance. The group doesn’t get too big though, so the feedback is going to better reflect performance.
  • 5+: Raters start to blur after five, and you start seeing the averaging effect. Plus, you might also burn out your raters if they’re already filling out a number of 360-degree reviews for other employees.

For each group of raters (peers, direct reports, etc.), aim to have three to four raters. You’ll get clear feedback, and raters will maintain anonymity. Then, putting together your development plan will be on target to reflect your strengths and needs based on the 360-degree review.