360 Degree Reviews Gone Wrong: 4 Struggles Employees Have

Posted by Hannah • March 24, 2016 (Last modified July 29, 2018) • 5 min read

The idea of a 360-degree view is wonderful when it comes to the Grand Canyon, but many people are less fond of an overall view when it comes to employee performance reviews. The benefits of having a complete look at employees through the eyes of peers, customers, and partners is invaluable, so finding a way to make them work is important. In order to build a successful 360 review system, let’s look at some employee struggles and how to address the problems.


Struggle: The results are vague.

When we hear 360-degree performance review, we think of a full-fledged picture of how someone works, what they accomplish, and how coworkers, from assistant to manager, view their personality and performance. Of course, some organizations find that results lack detail with very little room to get an entire picture of the person being evaluated.

Fix it

Consider the performance review template you are using to evaluate the feedback of peers. Is it allowing for answers to go more in-depth with actual examples or is everything on a scale? Is the template too long or does it ask too many questions? The more questions you ask, the more overwhelmed people will feel and the less likely to think through the responses they give. Instead, make it a mix of scaled/survey questions with short answer options available. Try to keep the amount of questions to fit one to two printed pages.


Struggle: Comments are Personal, not Constructive.

Employees spend hours with each other and because these individuals are all thrown together from various walks of life and cultures, there are bound to be people who get along very well and people who could never see eye to eye. With 360 reviews, everyone is aware their colleagues are reporting back to the managers. Because of this, some organizations note tension and hints of drama surrounding some of the feedback they receive during their review.

Fix it

No matter your department’s size, this is a problem many teams will experience with just about any system. Because a 360 review calls attention to the transparency, it is important that leadership strives to remind employees that the process is only meant to help each other become stronger, not create lines in the sand. Unless it was a large incident, refrain from going too far into detail around situations and instead focus on the ways to improve current shortcomings. Ask about the performance feedback ONLY, and stop employees when they begin moving into gossip territory.


Struggle: Weaknesses become the focus.

When asked if they would prefer corrective feedback or praise, 57% of employees admitted they would rather hear constructive insight from leaders. Of course, that means there are those people who need to hear positives as well. One common theme many report with 360 reviews is there is less focus on the positive accomplishments leaving only the negative pieces of their performance to be presented. The 360 review process takes time to put together, so it is easy to be caught up in “getting to the point,” or addressing areas where improvement is needed.

The Answer

This is a problem any review system can have, so the solution is up to a manager’s approach. There are a couple ways leaders can approach. One is to try the Oreo method, where you begin with a few positives, jump into areas of improvement then finish up with more strengths. Another approach is to accompany each negative with a positive, pointing out where they have made a good choice, even if the situation went a little wrong. In order to get the most out of any performance management system, it’s critical to give your managers confrontation training so they can address issues when they arise, instead of sugar coating performance problems.


Struggle: All the communication, but no follow-up.

So the meeting has ended and the employee, for better or worse, is fully aware of how a majority of their peers and leaders feel. Now what? Often times, employees who take part in a 360-degree feedback process leave the review knowing what wasn’t a success while, hopefully, learning some of the things they are excelling in. The question is, do they know what exactly will keep them on the right path and distinct ways to improve on the things that need it? If you’re not careful, soliciting so much feedback can put the results in the limelight and cast shadows on the ways to fix the problems.

The Answer

Again, this is a responsibility that falls on to the manager directing the review session. The amount of feedback and where it comes from should not deter from the solutions needed to better the team. What are performance reviews good for if they aren’t providing actionable answers to problems? When gathering feedback, managers should note patterns and come up with possible ways to fix the issues. A simple fix is to create a “what success looks like” document for each position, starting with the problem areas or employees in your organization. It’s very easy to point out where issues are, but a little harder to come up with what success looks like.


The 360 employee review process has been getting a bad reputation in the space and with the above struggles being reported often, it’s no wonder why. However, when handled well and with care, the full view of employees can build a very strong team. Thankfully, with Trakstar’s intuitive and user-friendly platform, you can spend less time on the logistics of the review system and more time on developing actionable plans with your employees. Demo our employee evaluation software to see how Trakstar can help you build a better employee review!

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