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How Does a 360 Degree Performance Appraisal Work?

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The great thing about management theory is that it gives us some fantastic tools and strategies to improve our organizations.

Using some of these great tools can give us the opportunity to really understand what's going on in the organization, down to the basic structure. Choosing the right tools and processes is crucial - you can't build a better organization without the right tools!

360-degree performance reviews are an excellent way to collect feedback from a variety of sources within your company, providing detailed feedback on an individual employee.

It helps to learn more about each employee, not only from the perspective of management, but also from the perspective of other employees who work as colleagues with the employee being evaluated.

If you are curious about 360-degree performance reviews, in this article you will learn what they are, how they work, and the advantages and disadvantages of using the 360-degree approach in your company. Read on to find out more - and remember that you can find many useful tools for your business on a great platform like IceHrm!

What is a 360 degree performance review?

A 360-degree performance appraisal takes many perspectives into account - the entire methodology is based on the assessment of an individual employee not only by managers and supervisors, but also by a large number of colleagues.

Typically, 8 to 12 people per person take part in this feedback process - a mix of colleagues and superiors.

The feedback providers are employees and superiors who regularly work with the person being evaluated. This is crucial because it's obviously not possible to give good feedback to someone you don't work with. Getting the right people involved in the feedback process is a very important part of the process! It is important that these people know the employee and work closely with them.

The individuals selected for appraisal and feedback are typically selected through a collaborative process between the organization and the employee being appraised.

The people selected for 360-degree feedback fill out a questionnaire with questions about the employee being evaluated. These cover a wide range of skills and workplace issues.

They are typically asked to provide a mix of number/letter grades/star ratings on specific areas of the employee's duties, tasks, and competencies, as well as other things that may arise in the workplace.

The employee being evaluated also completes this questionnaire and is asked to self-assess and provide honest evaluations and written assessments of work-related strengths and weaknesses.

The people taking part in the assessment are of course known to the employee and some have been selected by them, but their answers are anonymized. This is another essential element of the entire process.

The ability to provide anonymous feedback means employees can feel free to be honest. Without anonymized feedback, you're far less likely to receive honest feedback - which would essentially render the entire process pointless.

This feedback is then collected and evaluated. Typically, a report is prepared at this time by supervisory staff to provide both the company and the employee with a solid foundation for understanding the feedback and a solid development plan for moving forward.

This report is communicated confidentially to the employee and discussed in a conversation with their direct supervisor. This allows both the manager and the employee to discuss and reflect on the feedback and make a plan to improve any weaknesses in the employee's work skills.

What are the goals of 360 degree performance reviews?

The purpose of 360-degree performance reviews is to get a snapshot of an individual employee's feedback at a specific point in time. They are designed to help the company discover each employee's strengths and weaknesses by collecting and evaluating honest feedback from people who actively work with the employee being evaluated.

This anonymous, peer-to-peer survey allows the company to ask questions of employees and get answers from the people who work most closely with them. These people know the employee's style of work and their strengths and weaknesses in the workplace better than anyone else.

By receiving feedback from people who work in close proximity to the employee - whether in physical proximity or as part of the same remote team - supervisors (according to the theory behind the 360-degree feedback system) are able to provide a more accurate make an assessment of the employee.

Another goal is for the employee to have an accurate assessment of their strengths and weaknesses at work, compared to what others think of them. This allows an employee to identify areas in which they are performing less well than they believe and areas in which they are exceeding their own self-perception.

Both the employee and their manager can then work together to understand the reports and implement plans that will help the employee work on their strengths and weaknesses, with the goal of the employee improving overall based on concrete and honest feedback improved.

Benefits of 360-degree performance reviews

  • 360-degree performance reviews provide a much more comprehensive view of an employee than an appraisal from just one or two managers. Feedback is not only obtained from superiors, but also from the employee's colleagues.

You can get feedback at all levels - and those who are closer to the grassroots than managers may know more about the employee than those in a supervisory role because they work more closely with them.

  • More broadly, 360-degree feedback can also help leaders better understand what's going on in the group or company as a whole.

This is especially true when senior management employees work in different locations - if they are only informed directly by management about what is happening at the remote locations, they may miss the bigger picture. Local management may not even know what's going on at the base - but those actually doing the work do.

  • Looking at various factors and components of an employee's day-to-day work can help both the employee and the employer gain an understanding of the employee's strengths and weaknesses that other metrics may miss. For example, an employee may be so outstanding in one key area of their job that that strength outweighs a weakness in another area of their job.

By properly understanding an employee's strengths and weaknesses in specific work areas and properly weighting the importance of these areas, 360-degree assessment can help you gain a much deeper understanding of how an employee works.

  • 360-degree reviews help understand how an employee is perceived by their colleagues. This can help identify assets that the company may not have recognized without these assessments - such as the ability to work well in a team of people and the employee's general character. They can also help promote positive qualities such as: B. to recognize the effectiveness of leadership qualities.
  • The feedback from the 360-degree approach can help an employee to be more active in their professional career. By learning more about their core competencies and strengths and learning about their perceived weaknesses in the workplace, employees can use the information to advance in their careers.

They get great feedback on how others see them and what others think about their abilities in certain areas. They can use this feedback to improve the areas in which they demonstrate their strengths and to work on the areas in which they appear weakest to their colleagues and superiors. This can help them make better career decisions - allowing them to grow as an employee and as a person.

Disadvantages of 360-degree performance reviews

  • Without a well-thought-out implementation process, 360-degree performance reviews are a waste of time at best. In the worst case, they can even be harmful to your company!

This is even more true when these assessments are used to make major changes within the company. No change should be made on a whim, and changes without a proper understanding of the process that goes into producing these reports and the proper interpretation of these reports can be very risky for your business.

  • If you don't get enough - or the right - information, the 360-degree assessment process is doomed to failure. This means it's imperative to ask the right questions at the right time - which can be a difficult task in itself.
    But it also means that you look for the answers in the most meaningful form.
  • Number, star, or letter ratings may seem like they offer respondents a number of useful ways to respond and provide feedback. But they can also be too broad to be useful. Not everyone will use a five-star review in the same way.

For example. Some use 5 stars for "good job", others for "literally perfect" - and it's not possible to tell what a 5 star rating means compared to another when these answers are considered in isolation.

  • 360-degree performance reviews are one tool, but not the entire toolkit. They can provide great information - but it's easy to fall into the misconception that they're the only way to get the whole story and that they're all your organization needs to implement and implement.
  • If you don't try to link the 360 degree process (as well as other management and improvement processes) to your organization's overall goals, then they simply won't be as useful in helping the organization achieve its goals.
  • The 360-degree approach makes it far too easy to focus on perceived negativities and employee weaknesses. This may seem like a great way to get more out of your employees at first, but it can also have the opposite effect.

If your employees are particularly good at something, encourage them to do it even better and fill the gaps with other employees who can excel in the missing areas - rather than trying to fix what isn't broken. and risk burning out a valuable employee.

Focusing too much on weaknesses can lead to strengths being neglected - and in the long run, this can leave employees feeling undervalued. Their strengths are underutilized and they feel less useful because they focus on their weaknesses.

  • Regardless of whether a 360-degree assessment process is done well or poorly, one thing is certain: it costs time and money. It is simply unavoidable that a significant number of man-hours must be spent on this process.

Each employee must complete an appraisal questionnaire for each employee for whom they belong to an appraisal group.
This can easily involve multiple questionnaires for some or even all employees. These reports must then be compiled and analyzed, and the results must be presented and discussed in an individual meeting with each employee. The entire process for each individual employee can easily take a few weeks to a month - and this must be done for each individual employee to be evaluated as part of the 360 performance review.

  • If the process is carried out poorly, it can prove to be a real detriment to your business. It's possible that the entire process undermines the morale of your teams and employees. Many employees don't feel comfortable "bitching" other employees and are encouraged to default to neutral or positive feedback so they don't feel like they're "stabbing" someone in the back.

Others use the feedback process as an excuse to settle scores and may even lie in a way that cannot be proven and only serves to blacken an employee's name.

What is the 360 degree approach good or bad for?

The 360-degree feedback process is good for some things, but not for every single need that an organization and its leaders might have. It is most useful when it comes to perceptions and opinions - and consequently less useful when it comes to objective facts, such as quotas, goals, attendance records, etc.

It can be used to get great feedback about how an employee is perceived by those around them, and it can provide great information about their behavior in the workplace, their competencies and skills - such as listening, planning, leadership and goal setting - and the general Deliver character of an employee. However, it cannot really be used to determine whether employees are meeting basic job requirements or as a means of measuring performance goals.


360-degree performance reviews can be an extremely useful tool when it comes to improving your organization and helping your employees develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses.

Although it is can be costly and time-consuming to implement, it is a useful tool that allows managers and supervisors to learn more about their organization and the individual employees within the organization.

Find out how IceHrm's performance module can help you conduct meaningful 360 degree performance appraisals.

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