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360 Reviews the WHY and HOW of it …

Origin – take a wild guess people ..

Well who would’ve thought right – The German military conceptualized 360 reviews by gathering feedback from multiple sources in order to evaluate performance during World War II.

So what is a 360 review? Bah nothing complicated I would say – but important yes very ..

360 Degree Feedback is a system wherein employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from people who work around them. This would ideally include the employee himself, employee’s manager, peers, and direct reports, external people such as customers and vendors are also included at times. Participants are required to fill out an anonymous online feedback form that covers a broad range of workplace competencies. Most commonly feedback forms include questions that are measured on a rating scale with the provision of comments boxes against each parameter.

What are the benefits you might ask – well ..

Perspective and Behavioural Change

In collating data from a wide range of perspectives, 360-degree feedback allows employees to gain a more thorough understanding of their impact on people they interact with every day. Individuals tend to judge others based on their own experiences and expectations. Multiple perspectives lend credibility to the results of 360-degree feedback, making appraisal results more meaningful to the one being reviewed and increasing the likelihood that it will result in behavioural change.

Trust and High-Performance Teams

Unlike traditional appraisals, 360-degree feedback fosters an environment of teamwork and trust. Employees work together helping each other gain an understanding of their performance and actions. This experience, especially when appraisal results are positive, can build trust among employees to foster high-performance teams.

Top-level Executive Appraisal

Executives have traditionally found it difficult to obtain genuine feedback on their performance, often assuming that the company’s success or failure is a reliable indicator of their personal effectiveness. While this is true to a certain extent, much can be gained by allowing lower-level managers and employees to provide feed-back without the fear of retribution.

Value and Loyalty

In addition to offering managers a closer look at their own performance by reading their appraisals, subordinates can derive added job satisfaction simply by assessing their supervisors. Asking a subordinate to rate a supervisor proves that management cares about employees’ opinions and satisfaction. Watching a positive change occur in a manager’s behaviour due to the results of 360-degree feedback makes employees feel they are valued and have the power to effect positive change in their workplace. This can help promote long-term employee loyalty.

Commonly observed they are used in the following 2 ways:

  1. 360 Feedback as a Development Tool to help employees recognize strengths and weaknesses and become more effective.
  2. 360 Feedback as a Performance Appraisal Tool to measure employee performance.

Why do we need a 360 feedback system when we already have a robust appraisal system in place – well this is because .. What they assess:

  1. 360 reviews measures behaviours, competencies and other subjective areas such as teamwork and so on
  2. It provides feedback on how others perceive an employee

And what they don’t:

  1. Employee performance objectives
  2. Whether an employee is meeting basic job requirements or has technical / job-specific skills

Most of us have been participants to a 360 review in the past and always wondered how best to put across our ideas such that it is constructive, here are a few tips:

  1. What does Constructive Feedback meanFor feedback to be effective, it needs to be helpful and given in a manner that allows an employee to understand if his or her performance is having the intended effect.
  2. How to be Positive and SpecificOne should always start with positive feedback acknowledging the employee’s contributions and good work, whilst giving them specific examples of what they did well, and the positive impact their contributions had. This will help the employee to understand you value their contributions and will help to reinforce their positive behaviours. The more specific the feedback, the more likely the employee will understand and be able to replicate the desired performance or correct undesired ones.
  3. Stick to the FactsDescribe what happened, not how you “feel” about it. Focus on the facts of the situation, describe it, and stay objective. If possible let them know how this impacted others.
  4. Be DirectGet to the point. Don’t elaborate on unnecessary items. Positive and constructive feedback should be given in a straight forward manner.
  5. Avoid Generalizations such as

       You always do…       You never do…

  1. Avoid Comparisons of Co-WorkersDo not compare co-workers. Only compare the issue against your expectations, against standards set for earning rewards, against a person’s stated goals.

When it’s organized half-heartedly (more to meet your HR KRAs of having rationalized a feedback process), 360 programs create mistrust, anger and conflict and can leave a team with lower morale than when you started the exercise.So why do they fail:

  1. Where the boss is not much of a believer.360 programs that get driven by HR without active involvement from the boss are not effective. Whatever the boss gives importance to gets the attention of his/her reports.
  2. People offer comments that are personal in nature. Some people have had really bad 360 experiences where people talk about what they feel and their perspectives rather than providing constructive feedback and sticking to the facts.
  3. No development plan post feedback.360 data is only helpful to the extent that it gets acted upon and used.
  4. If there is a follow-up post-360 plan, it happens only once.Behavioural change is hard to bring about and needs regular revisiting maybe a quarterly revisit, in order to understand how perceptions/ behaviour have changed.
  5. Lack of confidentiality.The fact that process and guidelines are not communicated and adhered to effectively, plays a big role wherein abstract feedback is given with the apprehension of repercussions if it get’s out ..
  6. Focussing on weaknesses alone.Commonly the objective seems to be, “we’ve got to unearth your weaknesses” while forgetting that all of us have more strengths and it’s what will get us through our weaknesses.

You’re probably wondering why such an exhaustive blog about 360 feedback when I’m a successfactors consultant – but haven’t I gotten you interested in 360 degree feedback already J alright so where does successfactors figure? To read more visit :

Whilst accomplishing all objectives that a 360 feedback process is designed for, it gives you the best user experience you’ve had by far, additionally you have great extent of flexibility in terms of anonymity and restricted user access to named 360s at various stages of the workflow. Wait I’m just getting started ..

If you’d like a personalized demo you could reach me at:

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