Most organisations regularly review the performance of their employees. Whilst this activity is usually undertaken by the employee’s line manager who is accountable for delivering the business objectives, increasingly, this is not just a bi-lateral process. Instead, organisations regularly use the 360-Degree feedback (also referred to as Multisource feedback) which entails collecting input from additional people who interact with that employee. A 360-Degree review might collect feedback from their peers, from staff who report to them and, in some cases, even their customers/external stakeholders. The information gathered is collated and analysed into a report that gives a 360-Degree review of their strengths and areas for development.
The ideas behind 360 Degree feedback are not new. For information on the history of this please see https://www.odrl.org/2019/12/27/360-degree-feedback-history/
Why Undertake 360 Degree feedback?
A simple one-to-one appraisal process can be ineffective for several reasons. These include:
- Incomplete knowledge about the employees’ performance and development needs? With the rise of homeworking, it is now common for managers not to see their staff except via Zoom meetings, and this lack of frequent face-to-face contact has always been a problem with effectively managing off-site staff like sales and customer support teams. In these cases, is employee performance primarily being evaluated using simple business metrics like sales? This may be adequate to achieve short-term targets for a business, but are customers happy and likely to buy from the company in future? Are their co-workers comfortable working with them and providing effective support? Or are aggressive performers alienating customers or bullying co-workers, possibly leading to lost sales or increased staff turnover. You probably won’t know unless you take a 360 view!
- Reviewer bias. Does the reviewer already believe that the employee is a stellar (or otherwise) employee from past information? Is this preconception affecting a review which is taking place now? Again, taking a wider view can provide more information, help accurately measure current performance and development needs, and provide evidence about the absence of bias.
- The employee viewpoint. Does the employee value the opinion of their manager? Do they believe there is bias? Is their manager a stranger they rarely interact with? If a customer-facing employee is ranked highly by their customers is the customer view most important? If an employee in a support role is the person that needs to make things happen, is their co-workers’ opinion of their performance what really matters?
- Individual development. Might feedback from co-workers or customers be more useful and acceptable in helping an employee identify any problems with their business relationships and in defining their training and development needs?
In summary, 360-Degree feedback is a powerful way of heightening self-awareness and identifying strengths/development needs. Furthermore, it allows individuals to explore ‘hidden strengths’ and expand levels of influence, identify realistic development plans, and provides a way of benchmarking progress over time. It enhances openness and trust among colleagues and team members and provides new insights about one’s own performance as a result of constructive feedback. Giving and receiving continual feedback is one of the building blocks of high performing teams.
For these, and other reasons, 360-Degree feedback is now used in many organisations as it provides a more effective, less-biased, and more robust assessment of an individual’s performance with clarity of strengths and areas for development.
Setting the Process for Success
In order to derive maximum benefits from 360-Degree feedback, it is vital to design the process such that the outcomes enable participants to progress their learning and development in a structured manner. Furthermore, to get the buy-in of participants, especially of respondents it is important to communicate the purpose and ways in which the results will be utilised. It is also helpful to have a mechanism in place for individuals to receive feedback on their key strengths, areas for improvement and suggestions for development options. In summary, the process of implementing 360-Degree evaluations needs to be managed in a sensitive and positive manner.
If you would like to learn more about how to implement 360 Degree feedback in your organisation, please get in touch. ODRL can help you assess and build development strategies for your employees using a range of face-to-face and online assessments, and through the development of Assessment Centres. To discuss this please contact Dr. Kay Sahdev.