The feedback process has been up for debate and discussion for some time now. Several organizations are embracing various digital tools to help them transform the process and figure out how to improve performance management by improving feedback and how it is delivered, interpreted, and responded to, by employees and managers alike.

360-degree feedback is a not-so-new approach that is just now gaining popularity. Some organizations have been using this model for several years now. Others are just hearing about it. Essentially, this type of feedback delivers an ongoing analysis of how performance is perceived from all angles, including:

  • Managers
  • Peers/Co-workers
  • Customers/clients
  • Self

All these insights will be combined to deliver a total look at someone’s performance as it takes place in real-time. There are several benefits to this process and it’s great for individuals, teams, and organizations alike.

What Is 360-Degree Feedback, and Should It Be Part of Your Performance Management Strategy?

How 360-Degree Feedback Works

In setting up this type of feedback, it’s important to understand the basic structure. Although the organization will typically develop its own exact strategy or process, there are some guidelines that everyone can follow. For starters, as mentioned, it’s a process that should involve the likes of all those who interact with an employee. 360 degrees means all the way around—therefore, it’s important to get a glimpse at performance from every single angle of an employee’s role.

This not only helps get a better look at their role and abilities as a whole, but it allows organizations to see where candidate development and role refinement can occur. It also contributes to more real-time feedback than an annual performance review, which means a much quicker course correction when things go astray. It’s important to set up a process for all areas of feedback, including how it’s given by customers, peers, and managers, as well as how frequently and what impact it has on the employee’s overall performance rating.

Every Company Has Its Own Strategy

This is where developing your own strategy comes into play. There are several different ways to go about setting up this type of process for feedback. There are tons of debates going on regarding how the feedback tools and processes are selected, how to choose those who can give feedback, and how the process is integrated into the greater performance management system within the organization.

When utilized effectively, this feedback process can help companies and employees identify strengths and weaknesses much sooner and without going through a lengthy review process that is vague and generally unhelpful. This process does help reduce bias and discrimination tendencies, even if they’re subconscious and unplanned. It also ensures that companies have the right tools in place to cultivate a feedback culture and enhance the future of the organization’s retention, growth, and overall performance.

Benefits of 360-Degree Feedback Structures

The benefits of this feedback type are many. For the employee, it offers a better understanding of their personality and capabilities from the perspective of outsiders in all regards—managers, peers, clients, etc.—and allows them to understand where they need to make improvements or develop skills further. It also helps increase communication and teamwork by involving all team members in the feedback and development process. This leads to several perks for the organization:

Better opportunities and strategies for career development for employees, including personalized learning and development journeys. It also improves customer service because the input is coming from clients or customers directly. It can drive training initiatives and identify weak spots, allowing managers and leaders to see where they might need to make changes in the future to prevent the same issues with new employees.

This process is also much more conducive to constructive feedback than other solutions out there today. It helps develop and improve accountability and teamwork, as well as communication between co-workers and employees on all levels. It also supplies valuable insight about training needs and ways that HR can improve the onboarding process to lead to better employee development in the future.

The comprehensive approach is what sets this type of feedback structure apart and what makes it such a valuable asset to organizations. It gets everyone to work together and take group accountability for performance. It also shows employees that their performance matters in all regards, including from the client and customer perspectives. Too often, companies leave this to chance—perhaps customers will offer a review or testimonial, or have a complaint about poor service—but that can’t be the way companies operate in the future. Adopting the 360-degree feedback model ensures that the customer always has an opinion that’s valued by the organization and the employees themselves.

The Disadvantages

Of course, everyone wants to know if there are any drawbacks to this type of feedback. It does seem to offer an inordinate number of advantages, after all. Fortunately, there aren’t many to worry about. It can become troublesome if it’s implemented hastily, but that’s the case for anything in business. It’s important to take the time to develop a proper structure and strategy for feedback so that it’s implemented well and ensures that every element is in the right place. It is only going to provide a partial glimpse of the overall performance measurement, but it could be the most important glimpse.

The Bottom Line

Organizations that hope to grow and develop stronger employees in the future need to embrace the new world of feedback. This approach is about humanizing the process and taking a holistic approach rather than just relying on feedback from one source (managers). It helps develop teams, hold employees accountable, and give everyone a better feeling about taking ownership of their learning and development.

After the Great Resignation, companies are scrambling to figure out how to save face and get their employees back. Although the efforts are varied and will require a different approach for every organization, humanizing employees and taking advantage of technology to improve learning and development are two great ways to get started. The eLeaP continuous performance management system provides organizations with powerful options to attract and retain high caliber team members.