360-degree feedback functions as a valuable cog in the machine of continuous performance management. Done correctly, it provides employers with a more complete picture of an employee’s performance and skillset.

Implemented incorrectly, it’s a waste of time and resources – not to mention opportunity.

If you want to improve 360 Degree Feedback, start by rethinking how you implement it. As consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman have argued in the Harvard Business Review, the differences between successful and not-so-successful feedback are mostly organisational.

Work on optimisation on those 5 levels to improve your 360-degree feedback 

Here are five tips that will not only help you collect better data from 360 Degree Feedback, but also ensure the entire process functions a bit more smoothly.

1. Get leadership on board

The insights gleaned from 360 Degree Feedback sessions require action. There’s little point to rolling out a time-consuming review session only to ignore the results, right? So from the top of the org chart down, there needs to be a commitment not just to implementing 360 Degree Feedback, but also a plan to act on those results.

2. Ask the right questions

The 360 Degree Feedback software should be connected to overall team and company goals. Individual quotas and targets should be left to performance reviews. This is not the time to see if an employee is “on track.” Instead of focusing on performance, a 360 review should target areas like behaviours and competencies. Does the employee have a blind spot or a soft skill that might need improving? That being said, a 360 review should focus on strengths and not be used to identify weaknesses. In that sense, it’s important to review questions before the rollout. Do they include instructions to keep the responses constructive, or do they allow opportunity for the reviewer to get personal?

3. Measure the right skills

What leadership competencies are needed within your organisation? Does the team leader have strong project management skills, or do they function better as a coach? If the company objective is to be more agile and ship more software updates, then asking for ratings on a manager’s mentorship abilities misses the mark.

4. Short and sweet

Keep the survey to a minimum. 15-20 minutes is more than enough. Survey fatigue is real.

5. Preserve anonymity

Ensure there will be no breaches of confidentiality, and that all the reviewers understand this. It’s difficult to provide critical feedback to a colleague, especially when you have to attach your name to it. So provide reviewers with the ability to give anonymous feedback, otherwise they might feel inclined to temper their responses rather than create disharmony in a team environment.

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The value of 360-degree feedback

360s works because it takes subjectivity (mostly) out of the equation. It’s not just one person providing a review; instead, it’s a group, all looking at an employee from a horizontal, vertical, and diagonal perspective. This helps remove any biases that may influence a review.

Remember, 360 Degree Feedback should be just part of the ongoing conversation with employees. They’re worth implementing, but make sure to have a strategy beforehand and then follow up and take action where needed.