When lawyers in a law department are asked to fill out an upward appraisal of their general counsel, they probably feel a pang of unease, even if they have been assured that their responses will be held completely confidential. If too few people complete the review, or if there are text comments that might give away the identity of the evaluator, or if there is a scintilla of a chance that the response will be disclosed, lawyers shy away from taking part (See my posts of Sept. 27, 2005 on upward evaluations of leaders; Jan. 1, 2006 for a review of the tool; Sept. 27, 2005 for a partial 360 tool; July 9, 2007 for its use when two subordinates clash; and May 2, 2007 on upward evaluations of general counsel.).
Some personnel experts see the 360˚ report as a way to give difficult feedback to people who are too vain or ego-ridden to listen to it in any other format. To get a message to their boss may push back a bit on the insecurity, but the nagging worry can never disappear. If a third party collates the responses, most people think it is safe to complete 1-5 rating questions, but it is prudent to write carefully in the free-text replies