Understanding 360 Feedback and How to Use in Your Organization

Understanding 360 Feedback and How to Use in Your Organization

Human Resources have many different ways of going about offering ongoing feedback to their teams and employees, and 360 review is one that many companies are adopting as their yearly review comes along. 360-feedback is known with many other names like multi-rater feedback, multi source feedback, and multi source assessment, which all focus on the process of obtaining feedback from every source that has contact with each employee. This will include peers, subordinates, supervisors, and of course a self-evaluation from the employee, in some cases it may even be relevant to obtain external sources such as clients or suppliers. It’s not only named like this because of the courses of the feedback, but also because of what information is collected about their behavior at different moments of their job and interactions. This one does contrast from downward feedback and upward feedback. This process dates back to the German military during World War II, and much like the Japanese concept of feedback can help human resources teams. You can read more about this last one which was posted on in a post on the Jason Hanold Blog.

What is 360 feedback?

By developing a 360 feedback process in your company you can promote feedback that is completely anonymous, but will help employees have a complete vision of what all the people around them think and feel about them. These feedback surveys are completed by eight to twelve people and cover questions about the employees’ competencies that can be evaluated through qualitative and quantitative feedback. It allows employees to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses through the evaluations of their peers, supervisors and subordinates. All of this is complimented with the employee’s personal vision of himself and his process. One of the most important things is that the responses be kept anonymous and ensuring this will allow for authentic and real feedback from everyone participating in this 360 feedback session. By offering this feedback to employees your company is not only ensuring that performance is consistent in every level of the organization, but also that people who want to grow within the organization knows exactly what is required of them to be able to find their way to management positions.

Understanding 360 Feedback and How to Use in Your Organization
Courtesy of Paula Grubb at flickr.com

How it’s used?

Companies can be used to either to generate professional development tools or as a performance appraisal tool. As a professional development tool a company can use this tool to promote performance awareness and implement strategies to allow employees to work on their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding how others perceive you is essential to adjusting behavior and improving skills or the development of new skills to make sure everyone can excel at their jobs and roles. By acquiring this knowledge, they not only improve their personal performance, but the organization’s performance as a whole. As a performance appraisal tool is a bit tricky. One of the aims of making 360-feedback anonymous is to promote confidence in the process and generate an environment of trust, while allowing employees to learn and grow as individuals and professionals. With this in mind, it becomes somewhat difficult to generate a sense of trust if this same process is used to measure performance. Since this kind of evaluation focuses its questions about employees on behaviors and competencies, there will not be much to go on for offering feedback on specific role-oriented skills and performance objectives. When looking for performance reviews, the most appropriate role to give feedback would be immediate line managers. Thus why most experts agree that 360-feedback can definitely make part of a wider performance management plan or strategy. The more human resources teams have clear what 360 feedback evaluates and doesn’t evaluate, the more they will be able to use it to their advantage. At the core 360 will evaluate an employee’s perception on other employees’ behaviors and competencies in the workplace, while not touching on specific role oriented performance results or objectives.

The good and the bad

Many companies have tried implementing 360-feedback in their companies, but it has fallen short and ultimately failed due to many reasons. One of the main reasons this may occur is that there is not enough interaction from the top managers in this process, which lessens the importance of the impact and relevance of the process as a whole. Some people may expect very in-depth results from this process, but when they get a vague personality and behavioral result on each employee, they realize this was not what they needed for their particular company. Many of the comments received from other employees may be geared more towards personal advice than critical and constructive criticism that may help them grow as professionals. Another setback for implementing 360-feedback processes at some companies was that human resources teams planned the whole process, but forgot to set up a plan for when the feedback is already given, so there was no fixed way of tracking the progress. All in all, it is important to remember when thinking of implementing a 360-feedback process in your company to consider all of the essentials to ensure its success.

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