In any organisation, the method of providing feedback is often used to monitor, maintain, and encourage the positive performance of employees in all sorts of roles. 360 degree feedback is a type of feedback introduced to give the greatest possible review on an employee’s performance. It is a popular tool used by many organisations, but as with any tool, 360 degree feedback comes with both strengths and weaknesses.
How it works
Many traditional feedback systems work by the direct manager of an employee providing periodic reviews of performance. Although sometimes effective, this gives only a limited measure of performance from one source. 360 degree feedback is much more comprehensive. It is a feedback system that provides a review of performance from a whole host of people an employee will interact with, from managers to colleagues and customers. Usually, performance reviews will be anonymous and feedback will be provided on various aspects of the roles and responsibilities of any given employee.
The nature of 360 degree feedback is to get a well rounded view on performance, one of the greatest advantages of the system. Feedback coming from a variety of sources has a much better chance of being unbiased and truly objective. Not only that, but certain performance aspects of a role may only be visible by certain people. For example, the only true way to measure customer satisfaction on employee performance is to actually ask the customer to provide feedback. Overall, 360 degree feedback gives a broader perspective on an employee’s strengths and weaknesses, and provides greater awareness of where and how performance improvements can be made.
Requiring performance reviews from a range of sources can make the 360 degree feedback process much slower and more time consuming than other forms of feedback. Dishonest or biased feedback is also a frequent problem. For example, if an employee in a team has not fit in well with their peers, the 360 degree feedback system could provide the perfect opportunity to leave bad reviews that don’t truly reflect performance. If an employee is consistently underperforming, then receiving negative feedback from a variety of sources can damage actually damage confidence and can sometimes do more harm to performance than good.
Keys to success
No feedback system is perfect and 360 degree feedback remains a popular tool that is often used effectively and successfully by many top organisations, including the majority of Fortune 500 firms. The secret to success is developing a strong and consistent feedback process that addresses your organisational goals and ambitions. Plus, feedback is only the beginning. All feedback needs to be accompanied by processes that help underperforming employees improve their performance and get back on track. Often this means coupling periodic feedback with a continued process of training and development.