As organizations start thinking about resuming normal (or new normal) operations, one aspect of the employee experience that will have to be addressed is the performance review. Every organization is going to do something different. For example, Facebook is eliminating the performance review for the first half of the year and giving every employee a $1000 bonus. But what about 360 feedback (aka multi-rater) reviews? That’s what this reader note is about.
Sharlyn, I’d love to hear your perspective on conducting employee reviews in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic? We conduct 360 feedback reviews and it feels insensitive at the moment to ask staff to evaluate their peers. (e.g. “I don’t like giving an honest (bad) review right now about a co-worker because it feels inappropriate, especially when humanity is supposed to be banding together”.)
I know that the review process should always be professional, but I’m concerned that people may feel odd about it in times of job uncertainty/stability and that it might not glean the most accurate and honest feedback. Would love your perspective. Thank you.
I totally get it. We keep using the word “unprecedented” when it comes to COVID-19 and it’s true. And we’re not completely past it yet. I also hate to say it, but as I was reading this note, I was able to think of other situations where employees might have the same hesitancy. For example, after a company files for bankruptcy, or has a senior executive die, or after a layoff, etc. So, I thought it might be helpful to talk about 360 feedback reviews in general and then discuss how to handle those “negative situations” including COVID-19.
To help us learn more about 360 feedback reviews, I reached out to Gabriel Dominguez Martin, CEO and co-founder of Primalogik. They are a provider of performance management technology solutions including 360 feedback reviews and employee opinion surveys.
Gabriel, thanks for spending time with us. We know that the organization in this note uses 360 feedback reviews. However, one of the things that we don’t know is whether the organization provided training for reviewers. Why is 360 feedback reviewer training important and what are a couple of tips to keep in mind when it comes to reviewer training?
[Dominguez Martin] To get quality results, it’s important to properly train reviewers before launching 360 feedback reviews. Your employees need to understand the purpose of these reviews, the company’s process, and how the results will be analyzed. They also need to receive guidelines on how to properly provide and receive feedback.
Explaining the purpose of the 360 feedback review. A 360 feedback review differs from a performance appraisal and it’s important that reviewers understand the difference between them both. Performance appraisals are generally conducted between the employee and their manager and typically focuses on the employee’s achievements and end-results. And, more often than not, the appraisal has a direct impact on compensation (getting a raise or a promotion).
On the other end, the goal behind a 360 feedback review is to get a better sense of an employee’s skill set by evaluating things such as their communication, leadership and teamwork abilities. The feedback provided will serve to create a self-development plan that will help the employee grow professionally and personally.
Explaining the 360 feedback review process. Typically, a 360 feedback review involves a certain level of anonymity so reviewers will feel comfortable sharing both positive and constructive feedback. Whether your organization decided to conduct a completely transparent review (where everyone can identify the respondents), only the HR admin can view respondents or no one can, it’s important to share this information with the reviewers.
Even when someone receives proper training, I can see how an individual might be apprehensive about sharing honest but negative feedback. What are a couple of things that organizations can share with reviewers about delivering negative feedback?
[Dominguez Martin] It’s important to phrase negative feedback in a constructive way and stick to facts or events, not personal feelings. Train your employees to wear the ‘coaching hat’ and recognize the end goal is to help the other person improve. So, what type of feedback will help this person grow? Provide useful tips to help them do a better job in that area.
I’m curious about best practices when it comes to doing 360 feedback reviews for employees who might not be ready to hear performance feedback whether it’s good or bad. Granted, organizations can’t delay things indefinitely but, I can see situations like an employee who just returned to work after an accident or an employee who is juggling several intense projects not being the ideal time to conduct a 360 feedback review.
[Dominguez Martin] There are many factors that can impact an employee’s performance and behavior on a regular basis. Employees can experience anger, anxiety, and stress from their personal life or work environment. Sometimes as a manager you might be unaware of these things. A 360 feedback review will help you see if your employee is having difficulties, and this can help you start a conversation with them. You’ll be able to work together to create a better development plan and review their workload if necessary.
Given what’s currently happening in the world today (i.e. COVID-19), what are you hearing in terms of organizations conducting reviews right now? Are most organizations moving forward with the process or postponing it for later in the year or maybe something else?
[Dominguez Martin] It really depends on how COVID-19 impacted your business. If your business is doing okay, and people are not at risk of losing their job, you should continue conducting reviews. However, it’s important that you adapt the process to your new reality. We’ve seen most companies shift their activities and have their employees work from home. This of course can impact the work dynamics and you might want to adapt your questionnaire and process to reflect this new reality. Consider changing or adding questions in your 360 feedback review about new competencies that are more valued now than they were before. You should also be more proactive at getting and providing feedback to employees as most of them are getting less in-person interactions and feedback than before.
Don’t forget that a 360 feedback review is a tool used to create a self-development plan. So even if goals and expectations have shifted, this should not impact your 360 feedback review.
I want to thank Gabriel for sharing his time and knowledge with us. If you want to learn more about using 360 feedback tools, check out their blog.
Organizations have more to think about than simply extending remote work or bringing employees back to the office. Employees will still want to hear about their performance. It’s important to discuss how processes like performance reviews, development plans, and goal setting will be handled in this changing environment.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Fort Lauderdale, FL13