What’s more useful:
- A performance review in which one or two supervisors tell an employee how she has performed over the course of the evaluation period in the areas the supervisors were likely to notice.
- A multi-source review in which an employee evaluates his performance and is given feedback from everyone he works with and around, including supervisors, subordinates, and peers.
If you picked the latter, you aren’t alone. Many companies are switching to or including 360 reviews as part of performance management efforts. Considering the many benefits of 360 reviews, such as better communication between co-workers, a stronger team work ethic, and clearer career goals for employees that are based on feedback across myriad areas. Unfortunately, these benefits only come into play if multi-source feedback is well handled, and many companies don’t know how to implement 360 reviews effectively.
To reduce the risk of mishandling, watch out for the following:
360 Reviews with harshly critical or personal comments
Constructive criticism is useful. It shows us where we need improvement and guides us toward where we want to be. Rude or overly critical comments, however, do little other than fill the workplace with anger and distrust and create defensiveness, resentment, and self-doubt in the person being reviewed. To fight against this, make sure everyone involved in the reviewing process understands the difference between a constructive comment and a negative remark or personal attack.
Fix: Encourage compassion and humility among your employees. Ask them to place themselves in the role of the person being reviewed. Would they want someone to say the same thing about them if it were true? Would they want them to say it to them if it were true? Might there be a kinder way to say what they’re trying to say?
Lack of anonymity
A central component of the multi-source feedback process is confidentiality. Reviewers must be able to offer honest feedback without worrying that a friend, close colleague, or supervisor will become angry or upset by that feedback, even if it is well-meaning or handled with care.
Fix: Assure all personnel that comments and results are completely confidential and that no one will know who said what about whom. Also, make sure there is a process in place to uphold that confidentiality.
360 Reviews without an actionable plan
Feedback is important, but it is relatively useless to an employee unless it is coupled with a plan to utilize that feedback.
Fix: Help employees create an actionable plan for using the information provided. Example, if punctuality is a concern raised by multiple sources, consider encouraging the employee to work toward a goal of arriving five minutes early to every meeting for the next month. Once he or she can accomplish that, encourage early arrival at work each day. Eventually, punctuality will become a habit.
Plans with no-follow through
Change takes time, and even the staunchest self-improvement advocate among us grows weary after several months.
Fix: Keep the enthusiasm and motivation for change going by revisiting the 360 feedback and the goals created based on that feedback every two to three months.