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Performance Appraisals: Getting 360-Degree Feedback on Employees

An employee evaluation can consist of a technique called 360-degree feedback, which involves gathering performance-based feedback from a dozen or so anonymous raters in the workplace — all of whom have had work-related dealings with the employees being evaluated. These raters could include peers, subordinates, additional members of management, customers, and vendors. You can learn a great deal about the performance, productivity, and overall effectiveness of your employees by using the 360-degree feedback technique.

These raters are asked to complete questionnaires that focus on the performance of individual employees. There is no single and widely accepted form or format for 360-degree feedback, and the approach varies in terms of areas probed, numbers of questions, and types of questions.

Some of the forms that the evaluating individuals complete are lengthy questionnaires with hundreds of questions, while other forms have fewer than 20 questions. Some forms are developed and implemented internally, while other forms are the work of outside experts.

The underlying premise of 360-degree feedback is that if one manager can gather meaningful data about an employee from the top-down angle, a significant amount of additional performance data can be gathered by looking at an individual from all the other angles and degrees.

Employees tend to be receptive to feedback from their peers and others at work when such information is used for training and development, but they tend to be less comfortable with the prospect of having peers and other individuals impacting their evaluations, raises, or promotions.

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