Avoid Rater Fatigue in Your 360 Feedback Programs

People are constantly being asked for feedback – from engagement surveys, to 360 feedback, to what type of coffee to stock in the breakroom – and this can take a toll on their willingness to provide feedback. Rater fatigue can lead to unfinished surveys, inconsistent ratings, refusal to provide feedback, and angry raters. If you’re considering any type of 360 Feedback initiative, make sure you’ve removed as many obstacles to providing feedback as possible before assessment invitations are sent.

Here are a few suggestions for preventing rater fatigue:

  • Make sure the raters have been properly prepped before you ask them for feedback. Let them know what they can expect, why they were chosen to provide feedback, and how their feedback is going to be used.
  • Only invite relevant raters. If the purpose is to receive feedback on a person’s work behaviors, make sure that only raters who have exposure to and have actually worked with the person are invited. It’s easy to invite raters from a subset of an organizational chart, but you might not be inviting the most relevant raters.
  • Be aware of rater overlap. If an entire team or department is taking part in a feedback initiative, there’s a high possibility that individuals will be asked to provide feedback for several people. For example, if a team with 10 members is asked to complete a 360 feedback initiative by providing feedback for each team member and a self survey, each person is being asked to commit time to complete 10 surveys within a short time period. Consider staggering feedback invitations so that people aren’t bombarded with 10 surveys at once.
  • Use a “right-sized” survey. Make sure the survey is long enough to cover the concepts to be measured, but short enough for raters to be able to make time to complete it. Using surveys that are too long will result in incomplete responses or no response at all. You must respect the time commitment of the raters to receive useful, complete feedback, and to avoid complaints from raters.
  • Use “role relevant” surveys. If an individual contributor, let’s say a software engineer, invites raters to provide feedback about their people management skills, raters might feel that the survey is not relevant, since the person is not currently a manager of people. You want to ensure the concepts being measured are tied to the person’s level in the organization and responsibilities they perform. One size does not fit all. Asking raters to answer questions about concepts that have nothing to do with the day-to-day role of the person being rated is just wasting everyone’s time.
  • Use high-quality surveys constructed by expert psychometricians. This helps ensure that the survey questions are easy to understand and easy to answer. Poorly written survey questions containing multiple concepts will result in rater frustration, lack of rater responses, and unclear feedback. Think bad data in, bad data out.
  • Leverage feedback results. The organization must be committed to leveraging the 360 feedback results through development plans, coaching, and training. Raters put forth time and effort to complete surveys, and when they see that nothing has changed as a result of previous feedback they have given, they will be reluctant to spend more time to complete future surveys.

These are just a few points to consider when trying to avoid rater fatigue. You can ensure program success with up-front planning and thoughtfulness toward the desired outcomes and the raters’ time.

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