A 360 Degree View of Your Employees Via Simple Survey Tools

360 degree analysis is forever changing the ways companies evaluate employees, and online survey tools are quickly becoming THE most effective way to conduct these powerful analyses on employees, managers, other staff and even external customers.

It’s never been easy to be the boss—especially when it comes to providing employees with official performance reviews. Fortunately, the growing HR adoption of 360° Analysis, along with new online survey technologies, has changed all that. With the right online survey solutions provider, you can put these powerful new tools to work for your company today.

Traditional Employee Evaluation Procedures

In traditional employee evaluation procedures, in which a supervisor provides a single review of a subordinate employee, it’s almost impossible for managers to know whether a specific employee is performing well (or not) in all of his or her interactions throughout the company. It’s no secret that some employees typically perform well only when a manager is around. And some managers suffer from a “recent/fire or ice” mentality, in which they tend to evaluate employees based on their last few experiences, rather than the entire year, six-month period, etc.

Nobody wins

At the same time, companies need to perform more complete, fair and objective measures than ever, due to increasing competitive pressure and the ongoing need to retain their best employees. After all, they’re your business’s biggest assets.

That’s where 360° Analysis comes in.

What is 360 Degree Analysis?

With 360° Analysis—which you may see referred to as 360° Feedback or 360° Reviews—is a whole new way of conducting employee performance reviews. Instead of letting each employee’s supervisor serve as the sole “judge” at review time, this new, rapidly growing HR strategy takes more of a “jury” approach. Sets of peers—those who deal with employees on a daily or even hourly basis—are asked to provide supervisors with their perspectives. It can also include each employee’s self-assessment, and in some cases even external sources, such as customers, vendors, suppliers, etc.

Why is 360 Degree Analysis So Effective?

360° Analysis offers organizations a full spectrum of operational benefits:

  • Supervisors are able to share the employee-review task burden, freeing up time for other pressing departmental issues.
  • Employees actually consider 360° reviews to be more objective.
  • Individual feedback can be used to plan employees’ training and personal development.
  • Aggregate feedback can be used for forward-thinking strategic planning by department heads and management teams.
  • Accountability is heightened; of course, employees know that their interactions with anyone (and not just managers) can affect future performance reviews.

360 Degree Analysis Tips

How many raters, and more importantly, who’ll be doing the rating?

It’s recommended that you designate from 5 to 10 raters per review. Less than five, and you’re probably limiting your perspective; more than five, and you’ll likely end up with a system that’s entirely too time-consuming and complex.

Who rates who?

Choosing the right raters is even more critical than choosing their numbers. There are plenty of potential raters—just about any internal or external customer who regularly interact with an employee. Just keep in mind that external customers may feel less comfortable evaluating your employees, especially in newer relationships. Consider carefully before asking; after all, performance reviews aren’t your customers’ core businesses.

What are the performance criteria?

Of course, you’ll want to base your survey questions on areas in which the raters have ongoing experience regarding the “ratee.” Criteria might include, for starters:

  • Communication skills: identification of needs/expectations, sharing of information, helping/mentoring others
  • Follow-up to requests, challenges, administrative procedures
  • Listening skills (enough said)
  • Adherence to schedules, deadlines, etc.
  • Planning ability for future company needs

Allow raters to rank on scales from 1 (need improvement) to 5 (exceptional)—but also allow space for written comments.

How many questions should we ask?

Obviously, more questions will deliver more comprehensive results, but keep in mind that long appraisal forms create a LOT of work for the ratees (who, after all, are usually who could be working on building your business). Shoot for a one-page form—or at most two—with 5–10 questions taking 10–30 minutes to complete.

Who makes the final call?

Some companies let ratees summarize peer feedback, but naturally, it’s almost always the supervisor’s responsibility to act on the aggregate review feedback. Many companies throw out the lowest and highest scores, or at least keep an eye on situations in which just one rater has given strongly positive or negative feedback. Tip: look for trends in the data—not just incidents.

Anonymous appraisals or not?

Feedback, especially negative, can be hard to give as well as receive. Of course, you’ll want to avoid confrontation among your employees based on their performance-review assessments of one another. There’s no question about it: anonymity can increase honesty. At the same time, it invites the inevitable “who said what?” gossip, and it makes feedback seem more vague to recipients. Some companies offer raters the option of being identified or not. Many experts recommend starting with anonymous feedback, moving on to rater-revealed feedback when sufficient levels of trust and openness are achieved. Ultimately, you can position learning to objectively give and receive feedback as part of each employee’s ongoing personal development.

Consider Seeking an Expert for Assistance

Of course, once you decide to implement an online 360° Analysis solution, working with a specialized survey partner may cost a bit more than implementing your surveys in-house, but the results are much more likely to be based on proven, scientific methodologies.

SurveyMethods is a pioneer in providing simple, cost-efficient online survey technologies to companies of all sizes. We provide survey and analysis tools to help businesses and organizations understand and improve their operating environment—and increase satisfaction, loyalty, competitiveness, revenue and profitability.

360° Analysis is rapidly becoming the most effective new method of evaluating on-the-job performance, in which employees are rated by a range of peers as well as managers. New online tools make it easier than ever to quickly and cost-effectively deploy 360 degree analysis surveys to gather critical information for improving employee performance—as long as you select the right partner and follow basic principles.

Need help in creating and implementing your 360° Analysis survey strategy? Contact SurveyMethods today!