Although not all companies have embraced the concept of the 360 performance review, many that have implemented it find it hugely beneficial.
The most successful use of the 360 review is to use it as a development tool and not a rating tool, this way the team reviewing their co-worker focuses on the development areas and the review process starts creating a supportive culture in which teams can be honest about their peers as they understand that the process needs to be a positive experience for all parties involved.
The 360 reviews gives a kaleidoscope of different points of view which allows HR to understand the dynamics of an individual but it also gives a broader understanding of the team dynamic and what stands in the way of high performance. 360 appraisals are also excellent for understanding if your team is aligned with your culture and the core competencies required for each role. In addition, they often uncover organizational issues that hinder progress.
The 360 review generally consists of having stakeholders from various areas within the business, it could be managers, peers, customers, suppliers or partners that are chosen to review the employee. Using different angles on specific skills, values and competencies and incorporating a mix of stakeholders can lead to alignment, development and adjustment of an individual’s career path leading ultimately to highly affective teams.
It is important for managers to understand that the 360 review can potentially, when done correctly, lead to greatly improved performance and collaboration but when misused it could lead to employees feeling alienated.
Some of the pros of 360 reviews are:
- Company insights
‣ When co-workers highlight problems underlying poor teamwork there might be environmental factors such as inadequate communication channels hampering collaboration.
‣ 360 reviews also give an understanding of how employees relate to each other and how the lack of resources for one employee might be reducing the productivity of another employee.
- Employee development tool
‣ Traditional reviews by only an employee’s manager was often seen as one sided perspective that might not understand the day to day operations of the individual. When peers rate their co-worker who they work with every day with constructive feedback and have specific and actionable feedback it could lead to motivate employees.
‣ It makes co-workers feel at ease to make recommendations to each other which means that they have a culture of continues upliftment and development in the team.
- Helps to avoid unconscious bias
‣ The more perspectives seeked out, the less likely the reviews fall prey to unconscious bias. Avoiding unconscious bias makes for performance reviews that inspire and doesn’t alienate employees.
Some of the cons of 360 reviews are:
- Feedback from unreliable or inexperienced raters
‣ When co-workers rate their favorite team members high and give negative ratings to others that they dislike it could lead to ratings being skewed.
‣ If raters are not trained on how to do the rating effectively, it could lead the employee opening the feedback to find comments that are irrelevant leaving them despondent?
‣ Where possible, companies need to steer away from rating scales in the review process. Some people will never give a 5 and some might always give 5s which leaves no room for improvement.
- Focus on weakness rather than strengths.
‣ Have a good balance of focusing on the strengths the employee already exhibits and motivating them and highlighting areas where improvement is desired. Keep in mind that the employee’s strengths is what brought the employee to where they are and that their weaknesses might not be required to do their job effectively. Focusing on weaknesses that is not needed in the employee’s skill set to perform well could leave them feeling undervalued.
- Process not relevant company wide
‣ The 360 degree performance review must be tailored as some of the questions that are too generic could lead to the review process not being effective.
Below are a few points to consider when considering a 360 review program for your company:
- Decide what to focus on. There could be a great difference between a probation period review and an annual review.
- Choose the reoccurrence. Depending on the focus of the review the review could be quarterly, biannual or even annual.
- Set a timeline to get the feedback from the raters and also when the review will be completed.
- Define the scope. An effective performance review should at least include a self-assessment, manager assessment and peer assessments.
- Set up the questions that not only focus on the skills but also the company culture.
- Give raters guidelines on how to do their rating effectively by for instance giving constructive feedback that is actionable.
- Set up a feedback talk and ensure that there is continues constructive feedback and support after the review meeting.
The ultimate goal is to ensure that the 360 review program lead to a greater team dynamic and foster good employee relationships. Spiraling into having energized, positive, transparent individuals that work hard together to build a good company culture.