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What exactly is 360 degree feedback?

By on August 29, 2016

The world of management is increasingly becoming aware of the fact that seeking and giving employee feedback on a regular basis is very important to increase employee engagement. Studies have shown that organisations who adopted continuous feedback and a professional development tool have a higher rate of employee engagement & goal attainment as compared to those who practiced annual feedback.

In addition to the continuous feedback, majority of the large companies including Microsoft, Accenture, Adobe are replacing ‘manager reviews with employees’ by 360 degree feedback. The work environment has undergone a radical transformation. Continuous & 360 degree feedback are getting rid of the limitations that annual & manager only performance reviews offer.

What is a 360 degree feedback process?

360 degree feedback process that helps companies collect key performance data points from an employee’s teammates, direct reports, reporting managers, coworkers, and customers. It is so named because it solicits feedback from everyone who is connected directly (internally or externally) with the individual.

Typically, these individuals fill out an online multi rater feedback form (10-15 questions, sometimes an anonymous online feedback is preferred) that are mostly close-ended questions with 2 or 3 open ended ones.

What should be included in 360 feedback?

Result of the feedback exercise is – insights from all important perspectives, negating psychological biases that tend to make the decision making process error prone, as research suggests. As a result, managers & employees themselves are able to get a comprehensive overview of their strengths and weaknesses. The rating criteria helps them understand what areas they or their direct reports need to develop to increase productivity and approach performance appraisal objectively.

Why is 360 Degree Feedback important?

Provides larger scope for personal development:

Performance evaluation received from the perspective of managers is quite different from the feedback process of peers, leaders or even customers. Employees get a different perspective from all 3 (peers, manager, customers) against their own assessment and thus get a much better idea of the areas they need to improve, based on the rating scale.

Increases accountability:

Receiving feedback from so many sources should be seen as a blessing in disguise. When you know that there are multiple reviewers who will be giving you regular constructive feedback, you automatically become accountable for your actions and form a development plan. No one wants to go through a bad employee performance review process.

An increase in employee accountability has proven to increase their desire to take initiative and come up with creative solutions to improve group performance.

Team development:

A team is only as strong as its weakest link. If the weak link i.e. the poor performer is identified and provided support to develop and increase his performance, not only will he benefit from it but so will his team.

If for some reason, the individuals who are performing poorly are not willing to seek help, their performance will continue to slip. This in turn affects their team’s ability to reach their goals. In this case, if the manager is not able to identify the slacker, the measurement paradox will take over and any member of the team can give feedback about them. The manager or the team leader can take the initiative and set the performance management process to get their career development on the right path, without affecting the working relationships within.

Anonymous feedback:

Employees are able to comfortably provide anonymous feedback about their teammates. No one would outright say, “The lack of efforts by Employee A has been the reason for the team’s failure to deliver.”

Going anonymous helps them to share information they would have otherwise held back without being afraid of the consequences of giving negative feedback. Managers find this helpful as they are made aware of the situation and can take measures to address the situation accordingly. Trust is a powerful tool, and human resources teams play a vital role in building this trust.

Understanding customer expectations:

Customers always seek value for money. When you seek 360 degree feedback from your customers, you are providing them with an opportunity to express whether they are satisfied with your service or not. Customers share information about whether or not their expectations have been met. If yes, it’s a plus point on the employee’s behaviour and conduct, and if not then he can take efforts to understand how he can best satisfy the customer.

How effective is 360 degree feedback?

360 degree feedback can be effective if teams take a holistic approach towards the same. It is important to remember that user needs and the development team’s perceptions might be different, and there is nothing to feel bad about it. By relying on the data from reputable and unimpeachable avenues, the product or solution can be improved.

Using feature forms for 360 degree feedback

Taking feedback from various sources is not only tedious, it also runs the risk of important feature requests missing out. Upraise for Employee Success App can provide a clear answer to that, with its feature Forms that let users capture 360 degree feedback at one place.

Courtesy- Amoeboids Upraise App for Employee Success

The forms enable reporting in different types, and can be handled from the Jira interface. The simplicity of the app ensures that employees can use it immediately, and gather feedback that can lead to actionable insights.

Courtesy- Amoeboids Upraise App for Employee Success

Some of the problems associated with 360 degree feedback are:

Irrelevant stakeholders:

In an attempt to seek multi rater feedback from everyone, even those who are not in direct contact with the employee. An individual from the same team could be working on another aspect of the project and hence would not have information about their peers, or a direct report. At times like these, it is incorrect to seek his feedback.

Time consuming:

Although 360 degree feedback provides a thorough feedback, it is quite time consuming. The cost of employee’s and manager’s time to respond to the results is often overlooked, and aren’t counted towards performance appraisals. This in itself can lead to a decrease in their productivity that HR professionals need to consider. While providing feedback can be made mandatory in the organisation, the customer may not always have the time to do so. Hence, chasing most accurate ratings isn’t going to yield any significantly drastic results.

However, if we go by the statistics, nearly all Fortune 1000 companies are already implementing 360 degree feedback while some are in the process of shifting shortly.

PepsiCo is one of the biggest companies that has adopted the practice of 360 degree feedback since the 1980s in their culture. This case study highlights the business impacts it has seen:

  • Increased participation and ease-of-use with integrated system
  • Leaders find it a valuable process for their personal development purposes.
  • The group is embedding a consistent set of leadership behaviours across all markets.

When 360 degree feedback is implemented efficiently, it provides honest and reliable feedback providers with complete confidentiality that is necessary to spur employee development.

What are your thoughts on the increasing adoption of 360 degree feedback across organisations?

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