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How 360 Degree Feedback Process Works

Aren’t we always curious to know what others think about us?

How many times in a week do we think, “Are they impressed with my presentation today during the meeting?”

Getting 360 degree feedback is the natural urge for us. We have a bespoke opinion about everything under the sun.

Are we tapping our natural desire to give and receive opinion, feedback, etc.?

The good thing is 90% of fortune 500 companies set the trend by adopting 360 degree feedback for employee evaluation or development.

Why 360 degree feedback is important for the organization and individuals?

78% of employees are satisfied or very satisfied with the results when a 360 degree feedback approach is involved in evaluating them.

360 degree feedback gives us a multifaceted perception of our skills, performance, behaviors, goodness and some not-so-good attitudes. It shows how our behavior, actions, intentions and communication are perceived by others and how it impacts them.

360 degree feedback is closer to getting an ‘undo’ or ‘redo’ buttons in life. It gives you a precious opportunity to course-correct yourself based on the popular rational, perception. That doesn’t mean you have to satisfy every Tom, Dick and Harrys in your life. It’s a reality check for your values, behavioral competencies, leadership qualities and performance standard.

For organizations, it helps erase the danger of a single perception. One person opinion may be biased or inadequate to evaluate them in all aspects, especially when organizations want to appraise employees for leadership roles or promotions. It directly impacts employees’ personal growth and companies’ growth. Organizations must tread the path carefully and try to get a balanced view from multiple sources.

What is a 360 degree performance process?

In their book, “The art and science of 360 degree feedback” Lepsinger and Lucia defines it as ‘a process that involves collecting perceptions about a person’s behavior and the impact of that behavior from the person’s boss or bosses, direct reports, colleagues, fellow members of project teams, internal and external customers, and suppliers.’

  1. Employees can receive open or anonymous feedback from internal and external stakeholders.
  2. Internal stakeholders include peers, subordinates, managers, cross-functional managers, department heads, etc.
  3. External stakeholders include customers, vendors, off-shore clients, etc.

360 degree feedback is a practice by which employees can get feedback from who they work closely with and whose feedback matters to them.

How does 360 degree feedback help organizations?

Organizations conduct 360 degree feedback for varied reasons and purposes. Some of the popular applications of 360 degree feedback include

  1. Upward feedback to your managers
  2. 360 degree performance appraisal feedback
  3. 360 degree feedback survey for behavior or leadership competencies

Organizations innovate and use variances of this feedback to identify a multitude of perceptions.

Upward feedback styles help you to assess the behavior, attitude and qualities of the leadership. 360 degree performance appraisal eliminates bias, results in meaningful performance and development feedback from multiple sources and makes it more holistic. 360 degree feedback survey helps organization competencies based assessment of employees.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts undertook a massive 360 degree feedback survey for behavior and leadership competencies. Over 3000+ managers across the globe participated and 15,000 raters provide feedback on the leaders’ strength and areas of development. It helped Starwood to leverage the strength and mitigate skill gaps in leadership roles.

6 steps to implement 360 degree feedback

  1. Is your organization ready to give and receive feedback:
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    ommunicate clearly the business needs that can be achieved using the 360 degree feedback.  Prepare your employees to objectively give feedback to their colleagues. Employees should be trained on how to refrain from giving emotional feedback and how not to take the feedback personally. Unfavorable feedback should be given in a positive and constructive way to maintain professional gentility. Similarly, they must be coached to take critical comments in their stride and fix their shortcomings.

  2. Establish what you want to achieve in the end:
    Get a thorough handle on why you want to carry out this feedback exercise and what your objectives are.  Determine what type of quantitative and qualitative results you expect from the feedback process. Identify how you would be using the results to power the employees and the organization’s growth. A detailed plan of follow-through actions, training and development programs to bridge the competency gaps complete with the future assessment plans to measure its success should be designed. A comprehensive strategy makes your 360 degree feedback exercise valuable and meaningful.

  3. Determine your process workflow:  
    Next, comes the nitty-gritty of the process. What kind of feedback response you prefer like anonymous or open feedback. Both have its pros and cons. If it is open feedback, raters might not comfortable revealing the true opinion while anonymity gives them blanket protection to come out clean. On the flip side, anonymity reduces the value of the feedback while openness nurtures a positive feedback culture among employees.  

    Another aspect to iron out is the internal and external reviewers in the feedback process. If your business has extensive interaction with external stakeholders such as vendors, customers or off-shore clients then it is advisable to involve them as the external reviewers. Otherwise, go with only the internal reviewers.

    Finally, choose who would be providing feedback. Whether the raters are determined by default or based on employees’ choice. You can make the employees nominate raters from whom they want to receive feedback or fix default raters based on their work level.  Choice of nomination works better when conducting 360 degree feedback performance appraisal.

  4. Identify the right feedback tool:
    Choosing the right 360 degree feedback tool seals the fate of the outcome. The size of the participants, raters, and analytics capability play key roles in deciding the ideal tool. The Market is flooded with tools of all shapes and sizes. You need to find the right fit for your work culture, purpose, budget and required reports. Synergita, the top-rated 360 degree feedback tool offers unparalleled features and capabilities to successfully execute 360 degree feedback survey.

  5. Set up feedback questions & initiate the survey:
    Frame the right set of questions that brings out the best responses from the raters. If you want numeric results, have rating choices with optional feedback comments. Roll out the survey to the intended recipients and gather their feedback. Get the analytical reports of the individual employees, across team, department and organization levels.

  6. Follow through the actions diligently:
    Now is the time to act on the results. Luckily, you have already worked out the follow through action plans. Execute it to a T or improvise it to reap better rewards. Analyze the perception gaps and skill gaps; address the issues through proper development inputs and training. After the training programs, formulate a measure to assess the effectiveness of the training program. Rinse, repeat the 360 degree feedback in predetermined frequency.

Benefits of 360 degree feedback

  1. 360 degree feedback offers several benefits to the performance appraisal process.
    1. Instead of a single manager’s feedback, we get a broader perspective on the performance level of an employee.
    2. It reduces personal biases cropping up in the appraisal feedback
    3. Since it is based on a collective perspective and not on a single person’s perspective employees readily agree with the feedback and ratings
    4. During the one-on-one discussion, they are open to amend their self-perceptions based on the multi-rater feedback
  2. 360 degree feedback for employee development brings significant benefits to enhance an individual’s behavior competencies and leadership skills
    1. Employees get self-aware and understand the area in which they need to improve
    2. Employees discover their strengths and weakness  and choose a career path that suits them best
    3. Employees can opt for a personalized training program that aligns with the behavior expectations of the organization
  3. Benefits of 360 degree feedback in organization decision making
    1. Organizations can enhance their modus operandi
    2. Organizations are able to determine benchmark behavior and leadership competencies
    3. It enables organizations to make quality decisions based on the collective data
    4. It can pick the right resource for the right positions as the strength and weakness data for each employee is made available.

Organizations that have successfully implemented 360 degree feedback create a cohesive work culture and grow from success to success in their endeavors.

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