360 Degree Feedback
A 360 degree feedback survey is a common tool used to accurately assess the performance of an individual within the organisation by taking into account various perspectives from key stakeholders in the employees' work. Some organisations prefer to use 360-degree feedback as a form of performance appraisal for these employees. This process provides information on an employee's performance from a number of sources – peers, subordinates and managers. Such appraisal should provide a wide range of information about skills, performance and working relationships. Given the rigour involved in conducting a 360 degree feedback survey, these are usually reserved for measuring the performance of managers and members of the leadership team with an organisation.
What are they?
In 360-degree feedback, the peers, subordinates and managers fill in a questionnaire describing the employee's performance. The questionnaire usually consists of a number of statements rated on a scale (e.g. from 1 to 5) and includes the opportunity to provide additional comment. The employee in question also completes the questionnaire to assess his or her own performance.
The process should be anonymous and the feedback should be presented to the employee in aggregate or summary terms (i.e. as a feedback report).
To ensure the best possible results from the 360-degree feedback process, it's important to ensure that:
- the questions are short, clear and relevant to the person's job
- the respondents are credible to the person being appraised (i.e. they are deemed as being in a position where they can credibly provide input)
- both the employee and those who will complete the questionnaires are adequately briefed on the process
- feedback is never attributed to an individual respondent
- it is clearly stated how feedback will be given and by whom
- training is provided to those individuals who will provide the feedback and results
- issues of confidentiality are clearly communicated detailing who has access to the data and for what purpose
- the feedback report is concise, simple to understand and provides guidance on how the information can be used
- the process is constantly monitored and evaluated.
The questionnaires used in a 360 degree feedback survey will usually consist of a number of statements on a scale (e.g. poor – excellent, or 1 – 5) and may also have space for rater comments with free text.
Using the Results
Once completed, the results from a 360 degree feedback survey are collated into an in-depth report of the findings and should be presented to the employee by a person trained to provide feedback (e.g. a coach). This report usually summarises the responses, actual scores and average scores for each question as well as any comments offered by raters. A discussion of the results allows the employee and the coach to identify areas where the self-appraisal responses are in alignment with the perceptions of their peers, subordinates and managers, and where they are not. An examination of this provides the opportunity to take on areas in the employee's work behaviour, skills and performance that may need modification to bring about a desired result and can be a real motivator for change.
The 360 degree feedback survey creates a well-rounded capability appraisal using a multi-source, confidential assessment of a person's behavioural attributes at work. A crucial complement to goal-based performance assessments.