360-Degree Feedback is also known as full-circle feedback, multirater feedback, multi-level feedback, upward appraisal, and peer review.
360-degree feedback appraisals are ‘multi-source’ – involving behavioral feedback from a variety of sources such as Peers, Direct Reports (‘subordinates’), Customers (internal and/or external) as well as Managers. These are called Rater Groups, consisting of three or more Raters per Rater Group (except for the Rater Group ‘Manager/s’ where an employee may only have one line manager).
The employee receiving the feedback (called ‘Appraisee’), gets rated by 360 Raters (also called ‘Multiraters‘). Only Raters having worked with the Appraisee for a period of minimum three months should be asked to provide behavioral feedback to the Appraisee.
The Appraisee also fills out a self-rating that includes the same questions that Rater Groups receive in their questionnaires.
Why 360 feedback? It is hard to discount the views of several of your colleagues or customers than the views of just one person. The 360 process also provides a much more complete and richer picture of an employee’s performance. In addition, it gives people an opportunity to provide anonymous feedback to a colleague, which they might otherwise be uncomfortable to give face-to-face.
Some of the benefits of receiving 360-degree feedback from others are:
- Increased self-awareness, by understanding how your behavior is perceived by others, and comparing this perception with your own self-assessment of your own work behavior.
- To identify and build upon the strengths that you are currently exhibiting.
- To identify priority areas where you might change your behavior in order to improve your work performance and organizational effectiveness.
- More focused learning and development activities, and increased individual ownership for self-development.
Feedback is essential in facilitating performance improvement. It informs employees of their actions that create problems for others, and what behavioral changes may be necessary to improve working relationships, team synergy, performance outputs and customer service. Received in a positive, open-minded, non-defensive spirit, 360-feedback can play a major role in employees’ personal and professional growth, and job satisfaction. It can serve as a strong spur for personal development and behavior change.
360 feedback from peers and direct reports is frequently the only way that senior executives can get feedback on their performance, as there may just not be anybody else to do it.
The data gathered from 360-degree feedback throughout the organization can be very useful in providing insight into organization-wide behaviors and competency (or the lack thereof), and what development and other interventions may be necessary to address weaknesses.
NOTE: Because of its very power as a behavior modification tool, 360-degree feedback – if not implemented sensitively and professionally – can do a lot of harm to both individuals and the organization. For it to be successful there must be a mature organizational culture of openness, honesty, and mutual trust.