You’re not new to performance reviews. Love it or hate it, it’s part of many companies to assess their employees’ suitability for transfers, promotions, and raises, as well as possible dismissal.
However, annual or bi-annual reviews don’t tell the total story. That’s where 360 reviews come into play.
A 360 review is a wide-ranging, in-depth evaluation of an employee’s performance, engagement, and contributions from various angles. It typically includes a review of the person’s strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and goals. HR professionals, coaching companies, and organizations use them for employee advancement—meaning, it helps them with individual career and personal development plans.
Unlike other performance evaluation techniques, the goal of a 360 review is to understand how your work affects your teams and the company at large by requesting feedback from your managers and several of your teammates and other key collaborators.
What else is different about a 360 review? Your typical annual performance review only shares feedback about your performance from your manager’s point of view. That can be useful in some cases, but it doesn’t provide enough information for you to identify blind spots and develop your skills.
A well-designed and implemented 360 review focuses on your abilities and achievements, and its results present a roadmap for improvement in areas like leadership, interpersonal skills, collaboration, communication, work habits, and more depending on your industry and position.
Benefits of 360 assessments (if well implemented)
They are designed with you in mind
Unlike other performance reviews, a good 360 review is not an evaluation tool to assign promotions or dismissals. At its core, it’s meant to give you a broader view of your performance in different areas of company operations.
They highlight strengths and growth opportunities
By figuring out how other members of the team see your work, skills, and abilities, it’s easier to plan ways to enhance your strengths and improve weaker areas.
They improve teamwork and develop accountability
360 reviews are a great way to understand your coworkers’ perspective on your work and to improve accountability between you and your team. After your coworkers have shared feedback about your performance, they will expect some changes.
Despite the benefits, 360 assessments are time-consuming for management and the respondents, so companies may shy away from doing too many. Also, flaws in the design and execution might affect the data, which in turn means the review won’t be effective in inspiring positive change. Issues like untrained reviewers or coworkers getting carried away by personal feelings will not result in useful feedback.
Also, because the surveys are anonymous, you won’t be able to follow up on each review individually or request additional feedback.
So, what makes an effective 360 review?
360 reviews rely on trust and openness to succeed. If it isn’t used for its intended purposes, leaving you and other participants in the dark about its true application, the breach of trust between management and the team will have profound negative effects on morale.
Giving the subject more control about the process, for example by letting them suggest which peers take part in it, leads to more engagement and commitment to improving.
The assessment needs the honesty and good faith of the respondents. If the reviews are not honest or are submitted to harm the subject, obviously it will not lead to positive changes.
Proper training and support
The subject needs guidance to understand the data and support to create a development plan based on the results.
Follow-ups are crucial to ensure progress is being made and to brief respondents about what changes have been implemented.
Despite its challenges, 360 reviews can be a crucial tool to help you discover blind spots and overcome challenges.
In a typical performance assessment, only management and HR are involved. In a 360 review, several people play key roles to make it happen, each performing different roles:
- The administrator functions as the organizer, preparing the instruments, carrying out interviews and drawing up a development plan, presenting the results, and carrying out follow-ups.
- The reviewers, usually 4-10 of your teammates, will answer questions about your performance, contributions to the team, and any areas for improvement. They are instructed to leave honest, constructive feedback anonymously.
- The managers also have to share feedback, but theirs is collected separately with a different instrument.
- Finally, you, the subject. In a 360 review, you are not a passive actor receiving feedback. On the contrary, you are expected to take action based on the feedback you received.
- While you might not be able to control who submits reviews and how the process is designed, what you can control is how you react to the feedback. Your subsequent attitude and actions will be the difference between growth and stagnation.