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360 Performance Review: Everything You Need to Know

Parvathi Vijayamohan

Last Updated:  

14 May 2024

4 min read

Imagine you worked hard on your research thesis, and you’re anxious to get feedback. Do you want the feedback ASAP, or do you prefer to wait a year and then find out from the Head of the Department in person? 

Unsurprisingly, in a recent poll, 92% of 1, 000 US employees have little patience with annual reviews. What’s surprising though, is that 95% of managers feel the same way.

Here’s where a 360 performance review can be a game-changer. In this blog, we will:

  • Define 360 performance reviews
  • Explore the benefits of this review method
  • Discover the process of implementing a 360 review system
  • Explore the pros and cons of 360 reviews
  • Find out if your organization is ready for a 360 review process
  • Understand the typical mistakes companies make in 360 reviews, and how to fix them. 

What is a 360 performance review?

A 360 performance review allows all of the key players in an employee’s performance to collaborate and provide feedback on their job performance.

Managers, direct reports and peers will chime in with their feedback on that person’s skills, strengths, and behavior that has an impact on the rest of the team – but usually goes unnoticed. 

To put it visually: Like a compass with 360 points of reference for judging and tracking your course, 360° feedback provides information about your work behavior from multiple points of reference.

Benefits of 360 performance reviews:

  • You can measure performance in 360 reviews according to specific practices or values in your organization. 
  • 360 feedback due to its multiple sources is much more balanced than traditional, one-source reviews. 
  • It provides an opportunity for individuals to understand their strengths and weaknesses, identify areas where they need further support from others or training, and discover development opportunities. 
  • This can lead to better job satisfaction and morale, and improved performance thanks to stronger communication between team members and manager. 
  • Ultimately, a 360 performance review can provide insight about how a company is running as a whole, creating avenues for growth both personally and professionally.

360 performance reviews: The process in 6 steps

  1. Decide the criteria you are going to rate your employees on. These can include leadership, problem-solving, empathy – whichever values are important to your company. 
  2. Assign an owner. This person, typically in HR, will be in-charge of the 360 review process. They will own the communications and will be the go-to person for doubts.
  3. Choose a survey platform to collect the 360 feedback. 360 survey software like SurveySparrow lets you brand your surveys, and customize them for each employee. 
  4. Schedule the survey and send reminders. No ghosting allowed – everyone who doesn’t respond should share why they can’t respond!
  5. Give ample time for the appraisal process. If your cut-off date for payroll updation is end of December, the process should kick off as early as November 1. 

Pros and Cons

On the plus side: Feedback from those working around an employee can be extremely valuable, and highlight blindspots that wouldn’t have been seen otherwise. 

However, there is often a lot of extra work involved in organizing and executing these reviews, making them time-consuming and potentially overwhelming. 

Plus, misunderstandings can occur if participants lack proper training or do not use the appropriate tone of voice when providing criticism. 

For these reasons and more, it’s important to know if your organization is ready for a 360 performance review before implementing one.

How do I know if my company is ready for a 360 performance review?

According to The Management Center’s ‘360 Feedback – A Field Guide for Managers’, here are some questions you ought to ask your team before implementing feedback:

  • Company size:  According to software specialist Rhian Davies, “Small businesses with fewer than 10 to 20 people might not benefit from implementing 360-degree feedback processes. But small businesses that are growing quickly need to think about how they might start incorporating them soon.”
  • Location: Do your teams work in different timezones? Does the firm have multiple branches in different locations? Or plenty of remote/hybrid employees? 360 performance reviews can provide insights into employee behaviors that managers can’t observe in person. 
  • Culture: Do you already have a review system in place? Is open feedback part of the culture? This makes it easier to transition to a 360 review system. If not, it’s better to start with 1:1 check-ins first, and then upgrade to 360 reviews. 
  • Cross-functionality: Are cross-functional teams important to how you work? Is it common for members from different departments to work together for projects?
  • Purpose: What is your goal for the 360 reviews? Is it to support a yearly strategy? Will you use it for team development? Or all of the above?
  • Action: How will you address any employee needs? Do you have the required resources for training and development plans? Is there a mentorship programme?

360 reviews: Typical mistakes companies make & how to fix them

  1. Failure to coach staff and managers about the 360 process. Solution: Explain to the team the “why” and “what” of the 360-degree process from the outset.
  2. The survey is too long, forcing respondents to give generic comments. Solution: You can use one of our 360 templates – it will give you a good idea about how many 360 questions you can fit in a section. 
  3. Everyone gives feedback on everyone else in the team. Solution: Have a limited number of evaluators (3-4 at the most) for each team member. 
  4. Ignoring cultural differences. This may influence your judgement of an employee’s behavior. Solution: Follow up with 1:1 meetings between the manager and employee to review the feedback. 

Wrapping Up

360 performance reviews are quickly becoming the norm in today’s modern workplace. 

By collecting feedback from all levels of an organization, their use helps ensure a higher level of accountability and greater organizational efficiency. 

But while this method can result in success, there is also potential for failure if used incorrectly. It is important for employees and employers alike to take time to understand the ins and outs of 360 performance reviews; how they are conducted, their strengths, weaknesses, and common mistakes to avoid. 

As a result, this type of performance review can turn out to be a pretty powerful tool.

Further reading: 10 Myths of 360 Feedback You Need to Bust Right Now

Parvathi Vijayamohan

Growth Marketer at SurveySparrow

Fledgling growth marketer. Cloud watcher. Aunty to a naughty beagle.

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