Posted by Taylor • September 24, 2018 (Last modified September 4, 2019) • 6 min read
The performance appraisal process is similar to building blocks, you can pick and choose what you would like to include to make up your final product. From competencies to setting goals, even open-ended questions, the options for your performance appraisals process sure aren’t lacking, but one building block that you may not be considering could be the most important block of them all… 360-degree feedback. 360-degree feedback, or multi-rater feedback, is the process in which an employee (manager or non-manager) is rated by their peers. Typically, this feedback is anonymous, and even confidential from the employee if you would prefer to keep it that way.
The beauty of 360-degree feedback is that it can be used in conjunction with an individual’s self-review and their manager’s review in a performance appraisal. One could argue that collected 360-degree feedback is supplemental to the former, as it can help ensure sure that the manager has a full view of how the employee fits into the company’s environment. You could even utilize 360-degree feedback to gather comments on a manager from that manager’s employees, to learn more about the team’s dynamic. It’s a relatively easy and seamless way to make sure you’re seeing all sides of an individual’s performance appraisal.
Speaking of seeing all sides of a performance review, discrimination in appraisals is, unfortunately, a very real problem. You may have heard of the “horns and halo effect,” where a manager may rate an employee based on their most recent interactions with him or her, not with an open mind of how the last x amount of months have been. Fortunately, 360-degree feedback can help eliminate some problems you may be seeing with bias in your employees’ performance reviews. When your feedback is coming from multiple individuals, there is less of a chance for discrimination based on the most recent interaction, gender, race, etc… This type of feedback can continuously lead you to more clear-cut, and honest, feedback about your employees.
Currently, it sounds like 360-degree feedback is only beneficial to you as an administrator, right? Nope! Although they may not see it right away, your company and its employees will begin to notice and understand, the benefits that come from this style of feedback. Particularly, they will begin to see better team communication and more efficient work be produced as their team continues to evolve and develop. Multi-rater feedback makes team members accountable for one another when it’s understood that they’re going to have to reflect on their teammates, and let their teammates reflect on them, come review time. Not only is this a win for the employees and teams, but it’s a win for the company and you when more top-notch work is efficiently produced.
Now, employees may not be on board right away with implementing 360-degree feedback into their performance reviews, and that’s okay. To best help prepare your employees for this process change, it is recommended to follow the five steps you’ll see listed and described below.
Defining your objectives is an important first step when implementing 360-degree feedback at your company. Having a core set of objectives not only helps you determine what competencies and questions to use in your 360-degree feedback, but objectives can also help determine the people who should be involved. Objectives are also a great way to help employees understand why this feedback is taking place, which is an important aspect to this process. Why is it important? Well, once an employee can comprehend why something is being done, it is much more feasible to get them on board and excited about the process, which is detrimental to a process’s success.
Employees want feedback, and employees want purpose; you can give them both of these things with clear, straight-forward communication. This is particularly true when divulging details on how your company’s 360-degree feedback program is going to work. There is no need to garner confusion or fear when trying to implement a new process, and together, with your defined objectives, and a clearly communicated reason “why,” any critical response should, hopefully, be avoided. You can talk to multi-rater feedback being beneficial for many reasons: growing strengths, mitigating weaknesses, determining career advances within the company – these are all great places to start when beginning to put together your purpose.
There is a chance that when announced, you’ll have employees who both have, and have not, participated in 360-degree feedback in the past. Regardless of this, you will want to very clearly set expectations when discussing multi-rater feedback. Who has what roles? What kind of feedback should the employees be expected to give? How long is given to complete this feedback? This is an opportunity to set expectations from the ground up; you can work to alleviate fears from someone who may have completed a not-so-successful round of multi-rater feedback in the past, and, on the opposite side of the spectrum, work to make sure that 360-degree feedback first-timers have a good experience.
This one is easy. Be honest. Let employees know who will be seeing the feedback – will just their managers be viewing it? Can the employee see once it’s complete? Are only certain aspects going to be anonymous, and the rest public? Again, just be honest with your employees; it’s the best policy.
Regardless of how the previous 4 steps go, there will probably still be some concern around the 360-degree feedback process – some employees may not even realize their concern until during or after the first round. It’s important to address your employee’s concerns and questions before, during, and after the 360-degree appraisals. For all you know, a handful of employees may ask the same question, showing a hole in your multi-rater process. Questions and concern can only hurt a company when not addressed properly; all other times, it can make a company stronger.
Hopefully, you’ve gathered that 360-degree feedback, when done correctly, can be a huge asset to your employees and you. If this is the first time you’re looking into 360-degree feedback I would encourage you to ask peers around you if they’ve had any experience with multi-rater, look up anecdotal stories on the Internet, and maybe even do some research into what content may fit your needs best for a 360-degree review. As the performance appraisal process is similar to building blocks, the 360-degree feedback process is its own subset of building blocks as well. You can pick and choose only what you need!
If you need help picking and choosing what building blocks are right for you, reach out to Trakstar today. Our cloud-based software is set up to equip you with all of the tools needed to successfully run a 360-degree feedback campaign.