(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is sponsored by Primalogik, a cloud-based performance management solution that provides a flexible way to manage employee reviews, 360-degree feedback, goals, and engagement surveys. Enjoy the read!)
I once worked with a sales manager who not only met but exceeded her goals. Every. Single. Time. The CEO thought she was fabulous. The director of sales said she was awesome. Employees came into my office and complained about her all the time. Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation. As HR professionals, we know that sometimes performance challenges emerge within the organization.
Obviously, once the source and the causes of the performance challenge are identified, the organization and individual can work together to fix it. But it takes specific tools to get us to that point.
A 360 feedback review (also known as a multi-rater review) helps paint the most complete picture of an employee’s overall performance and behavior at work. It provides clarity on what skills an employee might need to strengthen and the qualities they are most valued for according to their peers, direct reports, managers, and other colleagues.
What makes a 360 unique and valuable is the opportunity to solicit feedback from a diverse group.
Now I don’t want anyone to think that 360 reviews are exclusively focused on problem employees so let me share another story. I consulted with a CEO who felt so strongly about getting feedback that he would receive a 360 feedback review every year which he considered both his performance review as well as his feedback for his executive development. What makes a 360 unique and valuable is the opportunity to solicit feedback from a diverse group.
Give Employees the Tools to Offer Good Feedback
As organizations look to develop talent from within the organization, a 360 feedback review can provide valuable insights. But before implementing a 360 feedback program, it’s important to prepare employees for the change. A 360 feedback review is different. There are two types of changes that are taking place. The first is that an employee will receive feedback from multiple individuals via the 360 review. The second is that employees are responsible for providing feedback to others.
Let’s talk about the latter first because sadly, I believe organizations often forget this part. For 360 reviews to be successful, the individuals involved need to know how to give good feedback. It takes high degrees of trust among colleagues and management. HR departments will be tasked with making sure all employees receive the training necessary to deliver relevant, valuable performance feedback.
In addition, there needs to be assurances that the feedback provided to the individual will be presented anonymously. Sometimes subordinates and colleagues are intimidated at the notion of providing critical feedback because they are concerned about how their feedback will impact working relationships, merit increases, and promotional opportunities. Anonymous feedback will allow employees to provide honest, candid feedback so everyone can feel comfortable.
Finally, the last component to help employees give good feedback is to use language and terminology that respondents will understand. HR departments will want to work with their testing partner to ensure the feedback items are crafted well. For example, instead of saying “What is the favorability of your workplace environment?” just ask “Do you enjoy your workspace?”
Support Employee Emotions in Receiving Feedback
As I mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons that organizations use 360 feedback reviews is so employees can receive feedback about their performance. And they need to be ready to hear the results.
Let employees know the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) associated with the process. A 360 feedback review can provide a more objective understanding of their performance behaviors because it reduces bias. In a traditional performance review, the feedback we receive can sometimes be subjective because it’s only coming from one person (i.e. our boss) and it’s often focused on performance outcomes. The 360 feedback process brings together a diverse range of viewpoints from around the organization and shows the employee where they excel and where they might want to improve. It actually provides a better understanding of overall performance than a single person review could ever provide.
Once an employee receives their feedback data, they should be given time to review and digest it. The manager and employee can work together to produce a plan that allows the employee to further develop their strengths and improve weaknesses. Again, it’s important to reiterate that a 360 feedback review is designed to do both. Managers should then schedule regular follow-up meetings with employees to ensure they’re making progress with their development plan.
360 Feedback Reviews Can Provide Performance Insights
The 360 feedback review process helps employees, managers, and organizations focus holistically on performance and performance behaviors. But the implementation takes some preparation both in terms of making sure that employees give relevant feedback and are prepared to receive current, valuable feedback.15