For over fifty years large organisations have successfully implemented 360-degree employee feedback, a process that surprisingly dates back to the German military in World War II.

Employee 1A specialised multi-level or multi-source evaluation method, 360-degree employee feedback is designed to gain knowledge of an employee’s performance by using confidential questionnaires answered by selected staff members, clients and customers.

The 360-degree employee feedback system can be a valuable tool for a company’s successful HR management program. It can be used to achieve goals and establish specific values, while creating a sense of connectivity and growth for each and every employee, either as a team or individually. In this day and age, this attitude is essential if a company wants to build morale, motivation and encourage the philosophy that everyone’s opinion counts!

Whilst every great invention or implementation has its strengths, it can also have its weaknesses if not used in the way in which it was designed. Not so dissimilar to purchasing a flat-pack from a well-known Scandinavian store and failing to read the directions before assembling it; failing to understand 360-degree employee feedback is a sure fire way of reduce the odds of it successfully achieving its targeted goal.

Employee 2In order to maximise the effectiveness of the 360-degree employee feedback process, it is paramount HR departments are up-to-date in the management of this unique evaluation system to avoid any pitfalls that can produce misguided results and inaccurate data.

Listed below are seven simple tools in how to use the 360-degree system more effectively to achieve contemporary results, authentic to an enterprising organisation.

  1. Develop clear-cut data and a measuring system to track and record employee productivity, performance and morale. This enables companies to stay focused on what they want to achieve when using a survey by limiting topics, and categories for each department, to a minimum… This will prevent outcomes overlapping or the generation of conflicting in the results. This is especially true with large and diverse organisations. It is also most successful when the rater has been familiar with the individual for a minimum of 1-3 years. This time frame is desirable because it instils familiarity, but not favourability.
  2. Utilising feedback questionnaires in a positive light rather than focusing on the negative. Meaning; using it to facilitate constructive feedback, as opposed to focusing on the down-falls, to create self-awareness and a desire for continued job improvement. Implementing the system on an on-going basis, making it a current part of the company’s daily, weekly or monthly process. Furthermore, encouraging a valuable feedback rich environment that has the potential to enhance job quality by addressing positive performance and encouraging ideas on how to change in areas that are not productive.
  3. Total management involvement in selecting or aiding in composing specific surveys. This is also most effective when there is a willingness by senior managers to become role models by being the first to participate in receiving feedback. Also, a lateral commitment by invested parties to participate, share and communicate all ideas, concerns or questions that may arise in an attempt for a universal understanding of the goals at hand.
  4. A clear understanding of confidentiality. People need to feel in control or secure in providing personal information anonymously; therefore it is important to clearly establish who owns the data and which data will be held in confidence to ensure a comfortable environment in which participants can speak freely. This can be accomplished by providing a confidentiality contract, covering what will be reported, how much and to whom. Be sure to be specific to the feedback providers by addressing all types of subjects relevant to the surveys. Also, be clear on the purpose of the feedback. That it’s not designed to ‘tell tales’ on a co-worker, but rather build on their attributes and refine their existing skills.
  5. Companies must define the ultimate purpose of the 360-degree process as a tool to enhance productivity and development to a company’s existing entity from a personal perspective. Knowledge is power and this is especially true with the 360-degree evaluation process. To make people feel like their opinion counts and not just another comment in the suggestion box, by acknowledging their feedback as a valuable information resource and not a means for termination. In other words; take the fear factor out of the mix.
  6. Follow through and keep it simple on all personal evaluations, from start to end and then some. Keep feedback providers and performers informed on the progress of their surveys, giving them a feeling of constant and consistent involvement and not just another passing management hype to give false hope. Supply continuous guidelines and tools in how to navigate a specified survey. Educate staff on how to take and receive feedback with group training, books and one-on-one training and keep surveys simple and user-friendly for both contributions and evaluating. Make it an easy part of the work day.
  7. 360-degree feedback; a recipe for success! A systematic evaluation process works best as a single development entity and not when used in conjunction with other management evaluation systems. The best way to find out if the 360-degree feedback system is right for your company is to have a test pilot. When entering any new or unchartered territory, it is important to take baby-steps, particularly when moving from a pre-existing evaluating system into a 360-degree evaluating system. Ratings can be compromised if an organisation does not stay organised and focused on the roles of management, as it strives to gain the trust of the participants to ensure an accurate and powerful insight to a company’s bright future.