Best Practices for 360 Peer Reviews

Best Practices for 360 Peer ReviewsPerformance reviews are no fun. Whether they’re annual reviews with a manager or 360 peer reviews, they’re unwelcome aspects of any job. Although 360 reviews seem like they would be the perfect complements to standard annual reviews, they have the potential to wreak havoc on morale, productivity and employee retention.

A few 360 Review best practices couldn’t hurt.

Joe Folkman, president and co-founder of Zenger Folkman, shared his ideas, in an email interview, for how to create a 360 review that works.

  1. It is important for organizations to make it clear that the assessment is only for developmental purposes not performance evaluation.
  2. The assessment should help people identify fatal flaws, if they have any – most often it’s a competency at the 10th percentile or below – that they need to fix. It also should be created to focus strongly on the positive dimensions and help people identify their greatest skills.
  3. The 360 review surveys shouldn’t take more 15-20 minutes to complete.
  4. The more respondents you have, the more valid and reliable your data will be.

Stephen Balzac, president of 7 Steps Ahead, LLC recommended that employers avoid using standardized forms. You want to get specific examples, good and bad, of actions performed by the person being reviewed. Vague comments and statements like, “he doesn’t handle people well,” or "she just can’t ran a meeting,” are as like as not to reflect some personal bias of the reviewer. [With] specific examples, you can evaluate how accurate the statement is, and the person being reviewed can receive useful feedback.

There are some, like Lori Dernavich, who would disagree with Balzac when it comes to having a manager evaluate the responses. A disinterested third-party, i.e. someone from outside the company, would be better able to make a completley objective evaluation of the data. But whether the data is reviewed internally or externally, executive coach Traci Shoblom believes that a coach should be on hand to help people process the feedback.

Without proper coaching after the results, said Shoblom, participants of a 360 degree feedback review can misinterpret the data and fail to understand the context in which it was given.

Love them or hate them, 360 reviews are complex assessments that, if not handled carefully, could cause a lot more problems than advocates believe they can solve.


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