In many corporate settings, there is nothing employees dread more than the notorious performance review. Whether it is feared, mocked, or regarded as a waste of time, the traditional employee evaluation tends to not generally be regarded in a positive light, and often creates a negative atmosphere that can put a damper on workplace productivity. If your organization seems to suffer from a suspicious number of resignations come evaluation time, this is where a well-implemented 360 degree feedback approach can kick in to save the day.

Why should you use 360 Degree Feedback?

Unlike the classic management-evaluates-employee approach, 360 degree feedback involves getting input from an employee’s supervisor, in addition to a handful of his or her peers, customers, etc. The number can vary, but four to eight people may typically be involved in providing an evaluation for a given employee. By getting feedback on an employee’s behaviour from the very people with whom they interact on a regular basis, chances are that the evaluation will be much more pertinent to the employee, and impartial, than a single top-down evaluation given by a manager.

The idea behind 360 degree feedback is to give the employee a well-rounded understanding of their workplace behaviour and skills. 360 degree feedback is also important in providing the employee with first-hand testimonials on how they are perceived by and affect those around them. Such evaluations should give the employee a stronger sense of accountability towards his or her teammates, customers, supervisors, etc. Armed with a holistic view of themselves vis-à-vis the workplace environment, many employees find themselves empowered by 360 degree feedback to appropriately adapt their skills and behaviour. Ultimately, this helps them to better align themselves with the organization’s mission/vision.

Indeed, one of the great reasons why 360 degree feedback is so appreciated by employees is that it provides them with valuable insight on how they can adapt themselves in order to grow their careers and workplace relationships – valuable skills that they can leverage for many years to come. Employees often feel that feedback is much more useful and informative if it comes from multiple directions rather than from a single person. By understanding how their daily interactions with different people are actually received, an employee will be better able to enhance his or her many workplace relationships. This serves to significantly improve the quality of team dynamics, especially if self-improvement efforts are undertaken at a collective scale.

How to properly implement 360 Degree Feedback

360 degree feedback can definitely feel like an attractive approach to improving your company’s employee evaluation system. However, proper implementation is of utmost importance, given the scale of such an approach. Neglecting to inform employees as to the reasoning and the purpose of a 360 employee evaluation is a quick way to spark rumours of mass layoffs and incite a hostile workplace atmosphere – especially if you fail to train employees in the proper ways of providing feedback for their peers and colleagues.

To avoid such a situation, here are a few tips to help you ensure that your company’s implementation goes right:

  1. Use the proper tools. Employees have limited time and are probably not going to be enthusiastic about filling in a three-page document by hand. For instance, you can make use of online tools and software that can help you to collect data in a quick and easy manner. Just ensure that you train your employees to actually use the platform. Poor user experience can lead them to provide low-quality, uninformative feedback, which is the furthest thing from useful to everybody involved.
  2. Ask the right questions of the right people. Don’t just select evaluators at random. It’s important to understand an employee’s regular workplace interactions to get an idea of who actually qualifies to provide a fair evaluation.
  3. Understand the data. Feedback is only useful so long as the data makes sense to both managers and the employees. For quantitative evaluation results, there are many good data visualization tools which can provide easily digestible feedback. It may also be useful to examine data both at an internal and national level if applicable, to get a better understanding of different workplace trends from department to department, location to location.
  4. Implement the ins Help employees and managers to understand how to best make use of feedback in order to help employees create and meet new goals in the year to come. Again, by making use of the 360 degree feedback results, employees can get closer to fulfilling the company’s vision, and improve the quality of their interactions with colleagues and/or customers.

If implementing 360 degree feedback feels like the right move, you can start your journey by doing some more research into how this approach can best fit your company. In the age of Web 2.0 and soon Web 3.0, there’s no need to pull out the bubble sheets and HP pencils – 360 degree feedback can be had with limited muss and fuss, particularly with the assistance of the right tools and training.