Before we begin, let’s admit something—giving objective feedback is hard. It can be difficult for any manager at any level to not let subjectivity creep into the feedback they give. It’s not that subjective feedback is bad or anything of the sort, but it is your responsibility to look at things objectively and provide feedback that is free of bias.
360-degree performance review is one of the most effective tools for managers to achieve accuracy and objectivity when reviewing their team members’ performances. How exactly does it work, though? Is it some mystical equipment hailing from some distant land of witches and wizards?
Not really, but the results it brings to the table sure are magical.
With that in mind, read on to unravel everything there is to know about giving 360-degree feedback and extract our best examples to get started with it.
What is a 360-degree performance review?
A 360-degree performance review involves taking a holistic look at an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. To do so, data and information is collected from select points of contact of an individual.
These points of contact include the manager, peers, direct reports, customers, and sometimes vendors of the reviewee. A rule of thumb for 360-degree performance feedback review is to include people who have directly worked with the individual being evaluated for a substantial amount of time—preferably three to six months or more, as they’ll have more instances and data to back their evaluation.
As part of the process, each contact is asked a series of questions that can help surface the individual’s strengths, weaknesses, and development opportunities. The insights and data gained from this process are then combined into feedback that is used to develop further goals and plans.
This process works well because it eliminates any bias that may occur with one-sided feedback from a manager, making the 360-degree review process the best method of planning an individual’s career development.
Now all this makes 360-degree feedback seem like a dream, but to be fair, it is also not without its fair share of pros and cons. Let’s try and understand what those are before we dive further into the rabbit hole.
Benefits and Drawbacks of 360-degree feedback
If done well, your 360-degree feedback can:
- Provide a more comprehensive assessment of an individual by collecting feedback from various sources
- Increase your team member’s self-awareness and help them understand how they are perceived within/by their team
- Help develop stronger bonds and facilitate better teamwork by letting each other identify their strengths and weaknesses
- Let individuals rate each other anonymously, without the fear and hesitation of being identified
- Boost and build a culture of continuous feedback in the organization that allows for open communication
- Increase the success rate of your succession plans
However, if done poorly, your 360-feedback can:
- Take a lot more time than what may be required and incur heavy costs to the organization
- Create a negative culture within your team due to feedback that’s borne out of rivalry or ill will
- Focus excessively on an individual’s weaknesses
- Demotivate an individual and destroy their confidence
Importance of asking the right questions
Now, if the previously mentioned cons of conducting a 360-degree review scare you, don’t worry. That kind of situation arises only when you conduct a review poorly, which we doesn’t have to happen to you.
More importantly, though, this is where the importance of asking the right questions comes in. So far, we have discussed how you can get the right answers with a 360-degree review., However, to get to that point, you must first focus on the right set of questions. Not only would they help you find the information you seek, but they can also challenge outdated ideas and spark discussions within your team.
Whenever you’re trying to find the right questions to ask, remember these five tips:
- Understand what information you wish to acquire.
- Add open-ended questions for more context.
- Find the right person to ask the right questions.
- Follow up with more questions if you need to.
- Give the person enough time and space to answer.
Now that we know much about 360-degree performance reviews, let’s unpack all the questions you can use right away to start the review process with.
Questions to evaluate job performance
- Is the individual competent at handling their assigned tasks?
- Is the individual well-versed in the subject matter?
- Can the individual produce results even when the odds are against them?
- Has the individual achieved their key results and objectives?
- Does the individual manage to strike a balance between quality and quantity with their output?
- Is the individual fully focused on completing the projects at all times?
Questions to evaluate leadership and management skills
- Is the individual honest, reliable, and trustworthy?
- Have they recently demonstrated any strong leadership or managerial qualities?
- Does the individual well represent the organization’s values and culture?
- Does the individual ensure their peers do not struggle with their tasks and assist them?
- Does the individual utilize their time and resources well?
- Is the individual often seen taking accountability for their actions?
Questions to evaluate interpersonal skills and collaboration
- Does the individual gel well with others in the workplace?
- Is the individual receptive to advise and suggestions about their work?
- Does the individual proactively seek others’ opinions on a matter?
- Is the individual able to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively?
- Does the individual often engage in active listening?
- Does the individual frequently collaborate with others?
- Does the individual attempt to foster meaningful relationships with peers and managers?
- Has the individual ever been in a conflict with someone at work?
- Does the individual show empathy and compassion towards others?
- Does the individual regularly seek to learn new skills and techniques?
Questions to evaluate personal characteristics
- How does the individual act in times of crisis?
- Are they able to manage their emotions and stress levels well?
- Is the individual motivated internally or externally?
- Is the individual comfortable with asking others for help?
- Is the individual prone to getting complacent?
- Do they procrastinate often?
- Does the individual have a strong work ethic?
- Is the individual actively seeking new and interesting career opportunities?
These questions form the baseline for any 360-degree performance feedback questionnaire., If you’re looking for more, check out one of our other guides, including the 50 best 360-degree review questions and some open-ended ones.
360-degree reviews may be a little old at this point, but they’re still just as important for carving out your team’s career paths and helping them pursue them effectively. If you’re serious about building a culture of feedback at your workplace, which you definitely should, 360-degree reviews hold significant importance and pay massively.
As long as you keep the pros and cons of these reviews in mind, ask the right questions, and follow up with your team members regularly to realign and refocus, everything’s kosher.