360-Degree Performance Evaluation

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The 360-degree assessment is a recognized, comprehensive and effective means of conducting performance appraisals in the workplace. This multi-rater feedback gives managers a good idea of what works and what doesn’t work for them. Few methods are as effective as this survey in providing real-time feedback to the organization and initiating action in the right direction.

A well-executed 360-degree performance appraisal can benefit leadership, teams and the organization as a whole. By providing employees with a reliable, confidential and trustworthy form of feedback, an organization gains valuable insight into current employee dynamics and the overall pulse of the organization.

However, even today, there is still some reluctance on the part of employees when a company decides to take such a step. The question is, “Why do we need to provide 360-degree feedback? Perhaps not all employees can appreciate the benefits or participate in the right way. Employees should be encouraged to participate in the survey and provide honest feedback by explaining the true purpose, benefits and importance of the exercise.

If this program is done in the right direction and in the right spirit, there will be many memories for both the company and the employees: The 360 degree evaluation is a recognized, comprehensive and effective way to conduct performance evaluations in the workplace. This multi-rater feedback gives managers a good idea of what works and what doesn’t work for them. Few methods are as effective as this survey in providing real-time feedback to the organization and initiating action in the right direction.

A well-executed 360-degree performance appraisal can benefit leadership, teams and the organization as a whole. By providing employees with a reliable, confidential and trustworthy form of feedback, an organization gains valuable insight into current employee dynamics and the overall pulse of the organization.

However, even today, there is still some reluctance on the part of employees when a company decides to take such a step. The question is, “Why do we need to provide 360-degree feedback? Perhaps not all employees can appreciate the benefits or participate in the right way. Employees should be encouraged to participate in the survey and provide honest feedback by explaining the true purpose, benefits, and importance of the exercise.

If this program is done in the right direction and in the right spirit, there will be many memories for both the company and the employees:

360-degree feedback is a full-circle feedback

The most important basis for 360-degree evaluations is that the feedback comes from all different levels (managers, colleagues, direct reports and external stakeholders) and thus becomes more meaningful. Employees can see how their work is perceived by different groups. This enables a better understanding of performance and behavior by providing a complete picture.

Better self-knowledge

Self-knowledge consists of understanding your level of competence, your beliefs, your motivations, etc. Honest and reliable feedback is necessary to verify self-awareness, to recognize previously overlooked strengths and to uncover blind spots in perception. Multi-Source feedback such as 360° provides employees with a personal, individual report that highlights the opinions of the people they work within a face-to-face meeting with them. Employees are able to broaden their personal awareness and identify areas that they can use more effectively or make more targeted improvements.

Honest and open dialogue

In many traditional assessments (such as a 90-degree, 120-degree or 270-degree assessment), this crucial aspect is often overlooked. A 360° assessment is the basis for open, honest and constructive communication within an organization. Using a professional survey solution that guarantees anonymity and confidentiality ensures that employees receive authentic and unbiased feedback. A properly conducted 360-degree assessment promotes open dialogue and conveys the message that employee opinion is essential to the company.360-degree feedback is full-circle feedback.

The most important basis for 360-degree evaluations is that the feedback comes from all different levels (managers, colleagues, direct reports and external stakeholders) and thus gain insignificance. Employees can see how their work is perceived by different groups. This enables a better understanding of performance and behavior by providing a complete picture.

Better self-knowledge

Self-knowledge consists of understanding your level of competence, your beliefs, your motivations, etc. Honest and reliable feedback is necessary to verify self-awareness, to recognize previously overlooked strengths and to uncover blind spots in perception. Multi-Source feedback such as 360° provides employees with a personal, individual report that highlights the opinions of the people they work within a face-to-face meeting with them. Employees are able to broaden their personal awareness and identify areas that they can use more effectively or make more targeted improvements.

Honest and open dialogue

In many traditional assessments (such as a 90-degree, 120-degree or 270-degree assessment), this crucial aspect is often overlooked. A 360° assessment is the basis for open, honest and constructive communication within an organization. Using a professional survey solution that guarantees anonymity and confidentiality ensures that employees receive authentic and unbiased feedback. A properly conducted 360° assessment promotes open dialogue and conveys the message that employee opinion is essential to the company.

Performance Improvement

A sixty-step assessment links current skills, attitudes, and values with the skills, attitudes, and values needed for good work. It is a powerful tool that generates “action-oriented feedback” that helps to clarify areas for improvement and provides a solid basis for development planning and performance improvement.

360-degree assessments are easy to implement

The ease of conducting a 360-degree evaluation makes them invaluable to businesses. Conducting regular performance reviews becomes a much less arduous task for executives. Feedback is made clear and easily accessible through automatically generated reports (as offered by many 360-degree feedback software programs today). Some tools are also mobile, making it even easier to stay in touch and participate in the exercise. Very often, people use their smartphones to access the survey form when they are on the move.

Employee feedback is the most valuable input a company can get to decide on its future action plan, and 360-degree evaluation is the most appropriate tool to get employee feedback.

In terms of performance management, 360-degree feedback is a process in which not only the supervisor, but several sources of employee performance are used. These different sources typically include a number of other people within the organization, such as colleagues and employees or even people from different departments.

360-degree feedback typically includes three, sometimes four, different perspectives to assess an employee’s performance:
1. Assessment of the supervisor
2. Peer review
3. Self-assessment
4. Direct assessment (if the employee leads others)

360-degree feedback is a term familiar to most HR departments, but some may know it by another name. For example:

  • Multilevel feedback
  • Multi-source feedback
  • Evaluation of several sources

Why is 360° feedback useful?

The reason why many companies use 360° feedback for performance management is that it provides a clearer and more complete picture of employee performance. When using traditional “top-down” feedback (where employees are only evaluated by their direct supervisors), many companies feel that the evaluation can be biased and does not take into account things that direct supervisors may not see in everyday life.

It is fairly widely accepted that 360-degree feedback provides a more accurate picture of employee performance, which means that it is likely to be a good performance assessment tool. However, the question is whether 360-degree feedback actually promotes positive behavioral change.

“360-degree feedback is very promising as a method for creating behavioral and organizational change, but the research showing results in this area is mixed”.

How to conduct an effective 360-degree assessment

If you have decided to use 360-degree assessments in your company, you must ensure that you follow industry best practices.

The following nine tips, found on the Harvard Business Review website, are designed to help you ensure that you are using 360 Degree Reviews correctly:

  • Measuring the right skills. Use empirical research to determine which competencies are really relevant to your organization’s performance — don’t jump headlong into your 360-degree assessment with measures that a leader might consider good.
  • Tell me what’s going on. Make sure that all participants understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.
  • Maintain the confidentiality of the participants. It is important that you make sure that all comments remain confidential. If you don’t, not only will you be violating privacy, but you will also be making sure that no one else is giving an honest evaluation!
  • Keep the survey short. Ideally, it should take no more than 20 minutes to complete the feedback form.
  • Look for strengths, not weaknesses. Of course, you want to know if there are major weaknesses that need to be addressed, but don’t focus the whole exercise on looking for mistakes look for strengths that you can maximize to improve your employees’ performance.
  • Customize the results to match specific jobs. You don’t have to search for exactly the same results for every employee. For example, when you see a customer service manager, you want him or her to perform well in terms of employee skills. But is it really the end of the world if your IT person doesn’t get top marks for “friendliness”?
  • Just do the report. It’s important that the people you evaluate can understand the results. Write short texts, create a clear action plan and use graphical formats to present the data.
  • Create a comparison chart. People want to see how they compare to others. Designing a final report that shows the performance of employees compared to the best X% of participants can help raise expectations.
  • Add a small employee survey on management. This way you can show your managers how their behavior influences the people they lead.

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