360 Degree Feedback Performance Reviews
360 degree feedback performance reviews are effective in driving results and change within an organization. DecisionWise research has shown that traditional performance appraisals fail to provide an accurate view of performance. Perhaps, the most effective way to improve the performance review process is to incorporate a 360 degree feedback survey. 360 degree feedback performance reviews provide more points of reference, measures how someone does their job and opens up a real developmental conversation with their manager.
10 Tips for Conducting 360 Degree Feedback Reviews
Understand the differences in use and purpose of 360 degree feedback reviews
There are differences in how a 360 feedback survey should be used for development as opposed to appraisal. Scores are typically elevated when a 360 feedback survey is used for appraisal purposes because raters recognize that results can impact a person’s compensation. Understanding that scores will differ depending on the purpose will help in determining how best to use and interpret the scores. These differences should be taken into account when determining how to use and interpret the results.
Communicate the purpose and process of 360 degree feedback
Let employees know the intended purpose of the 360 degree feedback review before administering the survey, as well as how the results will be used. Communicate the process and hold to it. It often helps to provide a 360 degree feedback definition so employees have clarity around the purpose of the multi-rater surveys. Train your organization on how to provide accurate ratings.
Use a 360 degree feedback pilot group
Using a pilot group prior to organization-wide rollout has several advantages. First, it allows for refinement of the process and of the instrument itself. Many potential problems are quickly identified that would have been wide-spread otherwise. Second, the pilot participants can act as champions to promote the 360 feedback process throughout the rest of the organization.
Wait before taking administrative action
If you are starting to use 360 degree feedback for the first time, wait until the second or third year of use before to tying raises, promotions, etc. to the review results. This allows people to become familiar with the 360 feedback process and comfortable with providing feedback.
Manage 360 degree feedback rater selection
Selecting feedback raters is important. If participants select their own 360 degree feedback raters they may be tempted to “stack the deck” in their own favor. This can be solved by selecting raters on behalf of the employee or having the person’s manager review the list before it is finalized. Be sure that the selected raters have regular interaction with the employee being rated and can provide accurate feedback as to performance.
Use small but relevant 360 degree feedback rater groups
Consider the number of people that will be involved in providing feedback. 360 degree feedback surveys involve more of the organization in terms of providing feedback. Each person (especially managers), may be required to complete multiple evaluations. We recommend selecting only two to three people in each of the peer and direct report rater groups.
Consider the answer scale
We recommend using a 7-point Likert scale, rather than a 5-point scale. This allows for greater differentiation in scores.
Keep the 360 degree feedback survey short
Design a 360 feedback survey that is short enough that it can be completed in 15 minutes. We have found this to be approximately 45-55 questions. Any longer and raters tend to experience rater fatigue, often resulting in all scores falling in the “good” range. The shorter the survey, the more apt raters are to take the time needed to give accurate information.
Use a customized 360 degree feedback survey
360 degree feedback surveys for development should include questions geared at behavior (the how), while appraisal assessments can focus more on performance (the what). 360 survey questions should reflect these differences in design. Be aware that most off-the-shelf surveys are designed for developmental use, not for appraisals. We typically find that off-the-shelf surveys are inappropriate for appraisal purposes and that organizations should consider a survey customized to their specific purposes.
Don’t group 360 degree feedback survey questions into single category scores
Many performance appraisals group a series of questions under one category. An example of this would be the category of “Communications.” Communications is comprised of many elements: oral communications, written communications, listening, etc. Rather than providing scores for each item, many appraisals will give one overall score for the category. When this is the case, it is often difficult for an employee to know which area of “Communications” is being addressed. Providing a score for each individual question provides more useful data, and is easier for the rater to evaluate accurately.