Intro to 360 degree feedback reviews

In this article, we'll explain the basics of 360 degree feedback reviews and how to conduct them effectively. So that you can use it as a guideline for implementing them for your team.

What is a 360 degree feedback review?

360 feedback is the feedback that comes from different sources to make it as versatile as possible, ideally all possible ones. These sources often are:

  • Self-evaluation;
  • Peers (or colleagues);
  • Line manager;
  • Direct reports (for managers).

Or any combination of these. Some companies even chose to collect feedback from clients, your product users, vendors, or suppliers, but it's rarely the case.

The primary goal of the 360 degree feedback is to help each participant to improve and grow. During the 360 feedback review process, the team members identify weaknesses and strengths, which they use to plan future personal growth.

It's important not to confuse 360 degree feedback reviews with the performance evaluation. The goal of the later one is to evaluate the performance and update the compensation, respectively.

Benefits of 360 degree feedback reviews

There are many pros of 360 feedbacks that make them a valuable feedback gathering process that many organizations adopt. Below are a few most important items why you should use them.

1. Personal growth and development

This is the main goal and the main benefit of the 360 feedback. Each team member receives valuable insights to understand their strong and weak points. And they can sit with their managers or Learning and Development specialists to make a detailed plan on how to increase and leverage their strengths and improve weaknesses.

For example, an engineer might receive feedback that even though (s)he's writing code very fast, his/her features often contain many bugs and require extra time for QA and fixing. Eventually, it delays the whole team. Having the feedback, (s)he now understands that the speed is not the most critical part, and would focus more on improving quality, not only the speed of delivery.

2. Team development

A 360 degree feedback helps team members understand the team dynamics better and how they impact other members. It helps make better-informed decisions and work more effectively together.

For example, a team member might learn that (s)he tends to be too loud and pushy when brainstorming different ideas. And that this approach doesn't let new team members share their thoughts and contribute. (S)he will learn to listen more and encourage others to speak up.

3. Structured feedback

360 feedback is precious because it is structured and comes from different sources. So that each team member can be confident that it's not only someone's biased opinion but something that most people think and recommend.

For example, one might be unwilling to accept the feedback from only one person, but when similar feedback comes from all sides, it's much harder to reject it.

Pitfalls of 360 degree feedback reviews

Of course, 360 feedback is not a silver bullet that solves all your company's feedback gathering needs. It has some limitations you need to understand to make the most out of the process. Below are common pitfalls you need to avoid when setting up the 360 degree feedback process in your organization.

1. Collect and forget

Since 360 feedback is focused on personal growth, there's often no required follow-up about the results and the next steps. Especially taking into account that most employees are busy anyway, and often just forget to implement the suggestions from the review. Thus the whole process brings little or no value for the team.

The solution is to assign a responsible person (HR or direct manager) to follow-up on the results and steps taken to improve. The team needs to remember that the impact of this methodology lies outside of the process, and it's their responsibility to take the next steps.

2. Focus on weaknesses only

Often teams focus on weaknesses rather than strengths when giving feedback, including 360 reviews. It's common to think about growth as correcting mistakes and fixing weaknesses. However, it's equally (if not more) essential to multiply and maximize the strengths of your team. It can bring even more value for the organization if you leverage your team member's strengths.

3. Avoiding critical feedback

In general, it's hard for people to deliver negative feedback and talk about problems. Most of us tend to avoid talking about weaknesses. Thus, only a positive one is not objective and doesn't help the receiver understand the full picture. Help your team get started with sharing constructive feedback. Check out the articles "The power of feedback" and "The art of giving feedback" to learn how.

4. Challenge to integrate

It's a hard task to create a culture of feedback sharing in the organization. And integrating a one-time or two-time per year event (360 degree feedback) into the company's continuous feedback process is especially hard. People tend to consider it a one-off event that needs little attention and no follow-up.

But it's a challenge that HRs (or other people responsible for 360 reviews) need to solve to gather feedback that helps team members grow regularly. You need to guide and coach your people both on the process and during the follow-up afterward. Running an effective 360 feedback process is like an organizational muscle that requires time and effort to strengthen.

5. Using the manual process

Many teams tend to start with Google spreadsheets or even paper-based forms to introduce the 360 feedback reviews. Such a process is hard to implement, requires a lot of HR's time, looks unfriendly, and time-consuming for the team and managers. Specialized performance review software can help automate the process, send nudging reminders, offer questionnaire builders, are easier to track, write, calibrate, analyze, and share the results.

Summary

Effective 360 degree feedback review process can have a profound impact on your team performance. It helps create a culture of continuous feedback focused on growth and development. However, it's also a complicated process that needs time to master. Don't forget to follow-up about the results and support your people along the way. Your team will thank you!

If you need help with the professional software that would help you make this process smooth and easy, check out Plai's Reviews functionality.