In organizational psychology, the360° Feedback Process or Multi-Source Feedback is a process through which employees are assessed based on their immediate work circle– their subordinates, peers, supervisors, and themselves. This type of feedback represents a multi-perspective view of an employee’s skills, performance, and areas of improvement. The 360° Feedback Process can offer valuable insight and information into the job performance of an employee. However, depending on the organization and its needs, it is possible that this employee review process can be more damaging than helpful.
360° Feedback Steps
- Ratings — performance can be rated using different types of scales such as: an effectiveness scale (“not effective,” “somewhat effective,” “extremely effective”); observed frequency scale (the frequency with which an individual displays certain behaviors. E.g., “always,” “sometimes,” “rarely,” or “never”); anchored observed frequency scale (uses percentage ranges to guide feedback providers and ensure greater consistency in ratings. E.g., “Always” being “95% or more,” “nearly always” being “75%-94%,” “often” being “50%-74%,” etc.); and developmental rating scale (rating a person’s capabilities on a particular behavior. E.g., “significant development needed,” “competent,” “slight strength,” “role model,” or “no opportunity to observe”).
- Data Processing — questionnaires or surveys are usually processed using external software which can produce graphical and numerical representations quickly and with minimal effort.
- Feedback — often anonymous and usually presented to the employee and his/her manager. Some companies choose not to make this information anonymous. Whether or not this performance review remains anonymous depends greatly on the organization’s culture and openness to criticism.
- Action — depending on the purpose of this review, the action generated can be development, appraisal, or pay. Depending on the purpose of this review will also determine who this review will be shared with and to what extent it will be discussed or used.
360° Feedback Advantages
The 360° Feedback Process can be very valuable and promote communication and growth within a company. By giving employees different perspectives of their performance, they can have a fuller understanding on areas of improvement and their current level of performance. This review process supports collaboration amongst the workforce and increases focus on the company’s goal or mission statement. The company’s leaders will be better informed what methods are working and what areas may need training and improvement. The 360° Feedback Process fosters mutual respect amongst employees and their leaders, resulting in relationships built on trust and honest communication.
360° Feedback Disadvantages
Whether or not the 360° Feedback Process remains anonymous can play an integral role on its impact and efficacy. The dangers in keeping the process completely anonymous are dishonesty and distrust. Some employees may not feel comfortable disclosing areas for improvement for their supervisors or may feel overly empowered in giving peers lower ratings, in comparison to themselves. The lack of accountability in anonymity provides a potential opportunity for misuse resulting in a negative outcome on the employees’ relationships with each other and/or with their leaders and loyalty to the company. There is also a chance that employees do not consistently observe behaviors or rate behaviors in another individual the same way.
The success of this review process depends largely on the way communications are handled throughout the process. When facilitated properly this feedback process has much potential in promoting employee growth from an understanding and improvement of teamwork, behavior, and personality. Since this method is mainly subjective, the 360° Feedback Process will not provide objective measures of an employee’s performance, in terms of productivity and attendance. Thus, this method will likely need to be used in combination with other method(s). When the process is used with proper consideration and discipline, employee recipients should feel like they are being treated fairly. Moreover, leaders will no longer carry the full burden of assessing the performance and competencies of their team members. The 360° Feedback Process, when properly administered, improves employee performance and fosters more trustworthy relationships within a company.