Blog | How to Use 360° Degree Feedback to Create Smarter, Happier Teams
Employee performance measurement is history. Literally. It focuses on the past.
Employee feedback is more relevant to your organization’s future — with the right insights at the right time, you make the right decisions to get ahead. Feedback from staff should underpin how your business develops its employees at all levels, from your new hires right up to your leaders.
But the value of employee feedback goes much further than HR. It’s a whole-business issue. And the more comprehensive and integrated your datasets are, the more powerful the insights you get. That’s why the 360-degree view is so popular: it’s more effective.
Trouble is, the whole "360 degrees” concept has been cheapened by poorly-designed survey software that promises a lot and delivers very little. So let’s set the record straight about what 360-degree feedback really means, and how you can use it to develop smarter, happier teams.
Collect full-surround feedback
A 360-degree employee feedback survey asks staff members to evaluate their peers and leaders as well as any employees they supervise. This idea worries some employees, so implement 360-degree research gently, with plenty of explanation of its purpose and confidentiality.
The benefit of employee peer review for the team is that when everyone knows they’ll be asked to offer feedback on each other, people are less likely to behave selfishly. At the same time, a confidential channel for potentially uncomfortable feedback means that everyone can speak their mind without feeling awkward or rude.
For managers, the big benefit is that teams often know more about what’s working and what isn’t than their supervisors. All employee feedback is subjective, but you get more actionable insight from the 360-degree approach than from a one-shot survey.
To complete your full-surround feedback, you’ll ask employees to assess themselves. You can also invite customers to give feedback on the employees they’ve met.
Collecting 360-degree feedback on everyone in the company is a key element of an effective staff development strategy. But employee feedback can be complex, and 360-degree feedback even more so.
How do you make it simple, fast, and credible?
Use the right tools for the job
Your choice of software matters. If a clunky interface makes creating employee surveys an ordeal, or unhelpful analytics and reporting tools make your research team cry, then your attempts at 360-degree feedback will soon bite the dust.
You need a solution that’s simple enough for everyone to use, yet smart and flexible enough to give you all the insight you need. Something that scales on demand to handle anything from a small side project to a huge company-wide undertaking.
When your managers can create and run surveys quickly without a fuss — collecting 360-degree feedback becomes something you can do as often as you like, instead of something you can only bear to wrestle with once or twice a year.
If you want to understand everything, you need to see everything. So don’t choose software that traps your feedback data in a silo. Integrating all the different elements of your 360-degree feedback survey is made easy by the right software. But take it one step further: the best solution is one that never puts obstacles in the path of insight. When you integrate all your data on one platform, the potential for insight is infinite.
Put your data to work
Insight is wonderful, but the action is what gets you ahead of your competitors. You want to grow and retain great talent, and the ultimate purpose of your 360-degree feedback is to create productive, fully engaged teams in which every employee owns their role and makes competitive advantage their business.
So how do you use your 360-degree feedback data to decide on the most effective actions? Here are a few simple examples:
Compare an employee’s self-appraisal with the feedback from his or her supervisor and co-workers to spot areas where employees don’t know their own strengths and weaknesses; then provide the right development opportunities.
Compare team perceptions of an employee with customer perceptions to understand how team dynamics affect customer experience; then build teams that increase customer loyalty.
Identify employees who play a vital part in a team’s success — you’ll spot them with 360-degree feedback even if their individual metrics are average in traditional employee performance reviews — and reward them.
Take up some of the ideas for improvement your employees put forward and give them a trial run. Employees are ideal sources of innovative thinking because they have an inside view of their team and department.
With 360 employee feedback you’ll be able to draw up and prioritize action plans for development at multiple levels:
- the employee
- the team
- the supervisor
- the manager
- the front line
- the back end
- the business
- the culture
This is what it’s all about. Create the change that keeps your organization ahead of the game, regardless of where that change needs to happen.
Focus on progress
In a feedback-positive environment, your employees know their opinions matter. They have plenty of opportunities to express themselves and share their ideas. Once that’s established, it’s important to focus on the results of that self-expression: progress.
After a 360 degree evaluation, give every employee confidential access to the reports that are relevant to them. Give them time to absorb and acknowledge the feedback. Then work with them to create their own roadmap for improvement and career progression.
Extend 360-degree feedback to include everyone up to senior management and you’ve got an organization where teams collaborate in their leaders’ development. If you want engaged employees, let them engage on all levels!
Want to see how employee feedback can work to develop effective leaders in your company? Sign up for a free demo of the complete Questback platform.