360-Degree Evaluation and Feedback for Performance Reviews

Posted: March 4, 2010 in Business Management

360processIs it that time of the year again? You either dread the thought of writing performance evaluations for the employees you supervise or if you are at the receiving end, you may downplay its importance as a futile exercise. If you anticipate a positive outcome, you may view your performance review as your time to shine. If you are a manager, you are more than likely familiar with the basic premise of a traditional performance evaluation. But gathering input on employees’ performance not only from managers and supervisors but also from peers and direct reports may be a novel idea to some. I am talking about a multisource, full circle feedback. Isn’t the use of traditional performance evaluation approaches controversial enough? Many employees in a diverse workforce very often point out segments in any performance review that require too many subjective answers from an immediate supervisor and hence are not performance measurements nor an indication of goal accomplishment. The thinking behind extending 360-degree to performance reviews goes like this: because most employees today work with a wide range of other people, no single manager can accurately assess their contributions. Some experts think, however, using 360-degree feedback for performance reviews is risky – in particular, it leans heavily on the human propensity to create hierarchies and to protect status. For example, employees who rate a boss or a peer favorably may feel highly uncomfortable about getting a frank evaluation in return and may have an inherent need for revenge. Additionally, there is the quid-pro-quo dilemma (i.e., a favor for a favor). Nonetheless, it’s easy to see why so many companies are attracted to using the 360-degree approach for performance appraisals. After all, it promises a much more comprehensive picture of an employee’s performance than the traditional “boss-only review” can offer. I doubt it very much that this form of evaluation will catch on and become an integral part of our corporate culture. The 360-degree is one of the tools used in team building and putting a board of directors together where the focus is on both development and appraisal. In this instance, you get more bang for every buck invested in this process. The Board of Directors of a private enterprise that has an egalitarian feel to it and put together as a culture of trust and candor, would more than likely welcome the 360-degree feedback.

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