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Traditionally, employees received performance assessments only from their direct managers, creating a linear and straightforward feedback method. Many organizations are now adopting a different approach, 360-degree feedback, which gathers evaluations of an individual from multiple sources: supervisors, peers, subordinates and customers, for a circular approach. Often there is also a self-assessment portion of the process as well.

This system is usually anonymous and a combination of questions on a rating scale as well as written responses. One person is in charge of compiling and communicating the results to the employee being evaluated.

Pros of 360-Degree Feedback

Proponents of the process say it is a valuable performance enhancement and employee development tool.

  • Participants receive a much broader perspective than they would from hearing observations from their direct supervisors. Sometimes fellow team members or subordinates have important information that is not apparent to managers, and this information can help those receiving feedback with increasing personal effectiveness.
  • Organizations are also able to evaluate their talent pool, identify training or management gaps and assess if they are living up to their values and goals.
  • It can help teams strengthen their rapport and work more efficiently together.

Cons of 360-Degree Feedback

This evaluation system must be carefully planned, monitored and implemented for it to be well-received and successful.

  • If it is not thoughtfully executed, it can result in severe backlash from employees, including emotions such as fear, anger, resentment and frustration. This type of feedback must be part of a well-defined performance management system.
  • It can focus too heavily on weaknesses instead of emphasizing strengths, which can leave employees discouraged.
  • It can be expensive, time-consuming and labor-intensive to implement.

360-degree feedback is an innovative way of evaluating performance within an organization, but it is not necessarily the right fit for every workplace. Have you tried this process in your organization? What were the pros and cons?

Learn more about EDSI’s Communicating to Manage Performance course.

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