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Employee evaluations are essential to the health and direction of a company. Without knowing how well each person is performing, teams are doomed to fail. The worst part is that many of the existing evaluation systems used by companies today fail to deliver useful, actionable insights on performance.

One technique that has seen more success is the 360 review. It involves a multi-perspective appraisal of someone’s work performance, as opposed to the singular review used by other systems. But before you rush off to start using it in your own company, it’s first important to understand how it works, and the pitfalls to avoid.

 

What are 360 Reviews?

360 reviews, also known as 360-degree feedback or rating, is an alternative feedback approach that seeks to include multiple perspectives in evaluating a worker’s performance. Instead of solely relying on a manager for feedback, 360 reviews take into account the experiences and interactions with customers, coworkers, leaders, and other individuals associated with the company.

The goal is to paint a less biased and more comprehensive view of each individual, hence the “360” name. But the method is not without its pros and cons.

 

Pros of 360 Reviews

– Variety of reviewers – A single review by a manager or supervisor is subject to bias claims. It doesn’t take into account the other tasks that a person may work on or the other people they may interact with. 360 reviews prevent this by involving other individuals within the subject’s sphere, creating a deeper, more nuanced image.

– Develops teamwork – Since employees no longer have to focus their effort on impressing a single person, teams can actually focus on their work and on helping each other. The point is to make a positive impression on the whole team, not just one person.

– Career development – Since 360 reviews affect so many people at once, teams can better advise how a person can advance their career. It may involve networking, receiving the right work opportunities, or simply being in a conversation where they ordinarily wouldn’t be.

Gather in-depth insights – 360 reviews can uncover deeper truths that would have been missed if conducted by a single person. For example, a female worker in a predominantly male environment may not feel as comfortable talking about her concerns with a male supervisor as she might with a female colleague. 

 

Cons of 360 Reviews

– Large amounts of data – 360-degree reviews will involve 5 – 10 times the amount of responses as a traditional report. This means more time and money that must be invested.

– Focuses on weaknesses – As with many review systems, both reviewers and administrators can get too caught up on weaknesses or downsides instead of the strengths and positives of a person. With so much feedback from so many different people, reviewers may feel pressured to provide some critical feedback.

– Inexperienced raters – Not everyone is trained to give detailed reviews, so one person may provide a comprehensive write up while someone else may offer the bare minimum.

 

Tools for 360 Reviews

 

Zoho People

Looking for a full comprehensive HR suite? Zoho People is for you. This online app takes care of everything from company policies to training, to time tracking and appraisals. The best part is it’s super sleek and sports an easy-to-understand interface, which complements any of the other apps from Zoho’s suite. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for HR needs, take a look into Zoho People.

 

Spidergap 

If you’re interested specifically in creating and running 360-degree feedback assessments, then Spidergap has you covered. Spidergap makes it incredibly easy and intuitive to put reports together, customize the questionnaires, and analyze the overall feedback. While your first assessment is free, Spidergap’s pricing may differ depending on the number of employees you plan on assessing. Either way, the investment is worth it — big names like the European Commission, The Children’s Trust, Booking.com, Cisco, NHS, and Sony Computer Entertainment have all used it before.

 

Vision Metrics

Vision Metrics is another provider of 360 Degree Feedback software, as well as 180 Degree Feedback. The company offers unlimited tech support, fully customizable feedback forms, and a platform that has been honed over 10 years. The best aspect of Vision Metrics are the beautiful reports, which help breakdown each person’s responses in quantitative, actionable ways. If you’re not ready to pay the full price, Vision Metrics offers a free 30-day trial for you to try it out.

 

Qualtrics 

Out of all the options, QualtricsXM is the most future-proof option. It has all the other 360 assessment features you’d come to expect, but it goes the extra mile and provides a few high-tech upgrades: voice analytics, AI and machine learning analysis, even recommended actions based on the results. QualtricsXM’s futuristic platform has even serviced over 11,000 major brands, from Adidas to Zillow. If your business is more of an enterprise or on an international scale, Qualtrics XM will be the ideal choice for you.

 

Who participates in 360 Reviews?

If 360 reviews involve more individuals in a company, who exactly do they involve? Before starting a 360 review, it’s important for everyone to know their exact role.

The main roles involve:

  1. The administrator
  2. The subject
  3. The manager
  4. The reviewers

 

The administrator

The administrator conducts the 360 reviews, from briefing each person, to collecting the results, to creating direct reports and action plans after the review. Without the administrator, there would be no one to facilitate the 360 review process.

It’s important to note that the administrator is not the manager. For a 360 assessment to be successful, the administrator should ideally be from a third-party, someone outside the company.

 

The subject

The subject refers to the person being reviewed. It can refer to the person at the bottom or at the top of the pecking order, but they must be from within the company. Before conducting an assessment, it is important for the administrator to properly brief the subject, so they know that they are about to be reviewed by various members of the company.

Critical feedback may arise, but it’s crucial that the subject hears it all. After the assessment it is up to the subject to decide whether he wants to make a difference to better himself or not.

 

The manager

Since managers tend to lead and direct the ones being assessed, they play an equally important role, although with a different perspective. Their job is not to comment on the subject’s performance, but rather the subject’s skills, interpersonal relationships, and communication.

The manager should work closely with the administrator to ensure that the subject receives proper training and guidance after the assessment.

 

The reviewers

What would a 360 review be without reviewers? These are the coworkers and cross-functional peers, the ones the subject interacts with on a frequent basis. They may even be clients and customers willing to provide feedback.

360 reviews typically need around 4-10 reviewers. Honest, constructive feedback is imperative to the success of the assessment as a whole.

 

What do you measure in 360 reviews?

360 reviews are all about evaluating a worker’s performance, but exactly what aspects are administrators evaluating? The answer depends, and varies depending on the industry and nature of business. But there are a few common threads in all 360 surveys.

The most commonly discussed skill is leadership. How well does a person direct the resources and team members towards a specific goal? How responsible or accountable are they in their duties? Above all, how willing are they to listen to others? These questions will help guide your evaluation of the subject’s leadership skills.

Another big consideration is the subject’s communication skills and interactions. This covers everything from speaking, clarity, non-verbal communication, negotiation, and overall being able to convey an idea or concept to someone else.

Reliability measures the ability of someone to follow through on a project or task. The higher up the leadership ladder, the more reliable a person must be.

How well of a job does the subject do on a recurring basis? How do they conduct themselves in front of the highest leaders and the low-level workers? Consistency is key, not just for a job well done, but for stronger business relationships.

Leaders also want to know about the subject’s ability to achieve goals. Whether those are lofty visions or projects for the company, or personal goals unrelated to work, a person’s determination can be a major factor in how one progresses in their career.

At the end of it all, reviewers must assess a subject on their overall performance. Not in terms of efficiency or productivity, but the effectiveness of their actions as a whole.

 

How to conduct 360 reviews

Train team around 360 reviews – Your team’s initial reaction will be one of confusion. Provide all the necessary information and resources to help them better understand the process and communicate the importance of these surveys. Before any assessment is conducted, it’s important to align the entire company on the purpose of the 360 review: to encourage engagement and advance people’s careers through feedback.

Select your subjects and reviewers – Who will be assessed? Who will do the assessment? The next step is to consider the vast network of interactions going on daily within your company. Reviewers can be further divided into subcategories, such as subordinates, peers, managers, or customers.

Create a competency framework – Which skills or competencies will you assess each person on? This varies depending on the organization. Some companies may want to focus on the leadership aspect of their team members, others will want to see which ones play best in a team.

Prepare the assessment – The administrator of the review should begin preparing a questionnaire based on the competencies outlined above. Include the necessary information on the assessment, such as how to fill it out properly. Administrators should assist in the development of these questions— the better a question is framed, the more insightful the results can be. Above all, keep it short. When assessments drag on, people won’t give it the same level of attention or thought.

Create actionable reports – Once the assessment is over, the administrator should be in charge of creating reports that suggest what to do next. That might mean giving an employee more exposure to a particular department, following up with a team member for abusive behavior, or finding new ways to improve the production process. When all is said and done, the report outlines what the company should learn from the assessment.

What to do with 360 reviews

You’ve finished off reviewing your subjects, now it’s time to analyze the results. Before anything else, make sure to anonymize the responses, so as not to reveal any sensitive information. Respect people’s privacy, and they’ll provide honest and candid feedback.

Speaking of feedback, it goes both ways. After you receive feedback from people, it’s important to provide feedback to the subject as well. Otherwise, they’ll never know how to improve their behavior or work ethic.

Managers and leaders would do well to provide coaching opportunities for those that seek or need them. The best employees or team members are hungry to improve and rise above their rank. Give them the tools to do so.

Find trends among workers. Are people generally dissatisfied with a certain employee? Is there a bottleneck in the process that management should be aware of? 360 assessments are great because they take into account so many different points of view— but many of them say the same thing.

Finally, create reports that can help the business in the long run. A few months after the assessment, people can forget the results rather quickly, so these reports will help remind workers how the company can always improve. Reports should be clearly designed, while condensing the mass of data into action items, and focusing on the big takeaways.

360 assessments remain an indispensable way to learn more about your team, discover ways to improve the company and drive employee engagement. When done correctly, the lessons learned could be pivotal to the future of a company. 360 assessments are still only tools, however, and it’s what the company does with them that will change their course of action forever.

Looking for more ways to keep your team engaged? Visit our page on various talent management strategies here.