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Best Practices in a 360 Review

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Are you looking for the framework and questions you need to add the 360 review to your formal employee performance management and improvement process? It’s a useful tool because it allows managers and employees to receive helpful feedback from peer coworkers and managers who are not in their reporting chain of command. The 360 review also provides a format for the boss and his or her boss give feedback, too.

This is valuable because it provides a more balanced look at an employee’s performance and contribution. The 360 review provides an opportunity for employees who work together to identify strengths and areas that need improvement. Structured appropriately and administered effectively, the 360 review deserves consideration in a performance development system.

As with any work system, a carefully designed 360 review process will produce the most benefit. When you don’t provide a structure, employees tend to write a book because they don’t know when they have said enough. They are also not sure about the topics and work behaviors you seek feedback on, so they tend to write about anything and everything that comes to mind.

This mind dump results in a lot of work for the manager who must pull all of the feedback together to provide meaningful advice and recognition for the employee. So, consider a framework, even if it’s as simple as the Wheel or Starfish in which employees respond to these questions. What do they want from the coworker in order to move the team forward? They identify what they want the coworker to:

  • Stop
  • Start
  • Continue
  • Do More of
  • Do less of

These resources make recommendations for best practices in a 360 review. They deal with the most significant questions that must be answered as you pursue a 360 feedback process in your organization.

360 Degree Feedback: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

iStockphoto / Noel Hendrickson

360 reviews are an effective tool for providing employees with actionable feedback about their performance and interpersonal relationships. They are a positive contribution to an organization when they are introduced and implemented carefully and in a method that fits your organizational culture. Implemented the wrong way, they provoke bad and ugly feelings among coworkers. Why not take a look to see how to implement 360 successfully?

The Great Debates About 360 Degree Feedback

Coffee Break - Man and Woman With Laptop
iStockphoto / Aleksandar Petrovic
Before you plunge into a 360 feedback process in your organization, there are significant decisions you need to make about your process. The answers to these questions can make or break your approach. Is your organization ready for 360 reviews? How will you approach 360, with an instrument or free form? Who will be involved and how will the results of the feedback affect pay, performance appraisal and more. Answer these questions before you start.

Goals of the 360 Degree Feedback Process

iStockphoto / Steve Cole

One of the first steps in implementing 360 review is to set the goals for why you are spending the time and energy and what you plan to do with the results. Some organizations use the results as performance improvement feedback within a performance management system. Others use the feedback as part of a formal appraisal process. Make sure your employees know how the information will be used if you expect them to enthusiastically participate.

Recommended Methods for Your 360 Feedback Process

iStockphoto / Jacob Wackerhausen
How you approach the implementation of and the collection of the feedback will profoundly affect the success of the 360 process. Make your decisions based on what feels right for your organization. This also affects how you select your raters and your expectations for their performance. Training is recommended because employees like to know that they are doing the right thing. You like to know that your employees understand the process and its confidentiality. Find out more.

Outcomes From Your 360 Degree Feedback Process

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The most important outcome from your investment in the 360 review process is personal, performance, and career development. This is why it's important to use the 360 feedback to help an employee grow. It will have different and potentially scary meaning for the raters if they think that their feedback will influence their colleague's compensation, promotion, or career and most employees don't want that responsibility. So, here are your next most important questions to answer as you consider 360 reviews.

How to Respond to a Request for Feedback for a 360 Review

iStockphoto / Sharon Dominick
If you've ever been asked for feedback about a coworker's performance, you'll want to take a look at how to most effectively respond. Since the goal of 360 feedback is organizational improvement, providing honest, thoughtful feedback is your best approach. The employee's manager will learn from the wide ranging view of the employee. The employee will benefit from the feedback and recognition he or she receives in the 360 process. Find out how to provide the most effective feedback.

Sample Questions for 360 Reviews

iStockphoto / Michael DeLeon
You can provide direction and assistance to the employees whom you ask for 360 feedback by the nature and meaning of the questions you ask. If you tell them what you are looking for, you enable them to successfully provide feedback for their coworker. Here are sample questions that you can use or modify for a 360 review. They come from research by Indeed.com about the qualities and characteristics employers sought most frequently in their employment ads.

More Sample Questions for 360 Reviews

iStockphoto / Joshua Hodge Photography
Looking for additional questions that you can ask employees to answer in a 360 review? These questions cover an additional six areas that were identified by Indeed.com as the characteristics and traits most frequently sought by employers in their employment ads. That's a great starting point for these recommended questions to ask for in 360 feedback.

The Case for Web-based 360 Degree Feedback

iStockphoto / Michael DeLeon
You can make a case for web-based 360 feedback especially in mid-size to large organizations. I prefer to start with less formal feedback to get started. Further, companies that go to web-based ratings often use a numeric scale to rank employees, a process I don't recommend. But, you may want to consider a web-based system. The proliferate in the HR marketplace.
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