360-degree feedback is a feedback system where employees receive anonymous comments, concerns, and kudos from peers. This type of feedback process usually involves coworkers, customers and a supervisor who complete a confidential, online questionnaire about the employee’s competencies and performance. The employee receiving feedback also fills out the questionnaire, which includes comments and questions with a rating scale.
Old vs. New
Traditional performance reviews involve an annual meeting where a supervisor, who may rarely observe how the employee performs their duties or interacts with others, completes a generic personnel template. HuffPost shares how most popular performance reviews either use subjective commentary or numerical ranking that fail to provide complete pictures of employee performance. It is logical to conclude that basing promotions or salary increases on a single person’s opinion is neither comprehensive nor factually fair. Instead, 360-degree feedback is a flexible, multi-source assessment that may include or exclude management, customers or peers based on specific needs.
360-degree feedback is typically used to measure interpersonal competencies such as communication, teamwork, leadership and customer service. These soft skills are harder to judge based on a single opinion, but they are highly valued and necessary skills for top business performance. The positions most suited for 360-degree feedback involve managing projects and teams as well as interacting with external people. It could easily be used to assess a salesperson or health professional when work metrics and performance numbers are included. Anonymous, diverse ratings are more reliable with less rater bias and random error.
There are potential drawbacks to 360-degree feedback assessments. First, they can be expensive to design, implement and maintain in big companies. They can also be time-consuming for participants who work in large teams or departments. Some participants will always be reluctant to give detailed feedback, particularly if they are subordinate or if they are worried they could be identified. If the participants have a vested interest or ulterior motive, the feedback may be either positively or negatively exaggerated. Psychology research does indicate that anonymity enables people to be more direct or honest, which may not always be accurate or helpful.
Those who rate peers in 360-degree feedback usually appreciate the equal assessment climate that eliminates negative repercussions and improves working relationships. Employees who are rated are more likely to feel the feedback was valid, credible, constructive and personalized. This helps to improve their communication and performance. Supervisors enjoy access to diverse feedback that can be used with talent management, developmental planning, and individual goals. Organizations will enjoy enhanced employee engagement and actionable feedback that is aligned with organizational goals. As a result, there will be more behavioral changes that lead to better organizational efficiency and effectiveness.
360-degree feedback helps managers and leaders gain a better understanding of the organization’s collective strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for change. The online platforms automatically calculate the results and present them in user-friendly formats. 360-degree feedback means more balanced views, increased self-awareness, and individualized soft skill development.