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360° Feedback: a robust approach to annual reviews

eye 367 Published on 10 Jan. 2023
tag ##SkillDevelopment

On a scale of 0 to 5, how would you rate your creativity? And your sense of organisation? Alright, now let's change the perspective. What do your colleagues think of your creativity and organisational skills? Would they give you the same grades as you gave yourself? What about your customers?

Well, it's not an enjoyable experience to think of how others might perceive us, but why not give it a try and experience it through an evaluation tool - the 360° Feedback? Used in several professional contexts, the 360° evaluation method promotes a strong awareness of one's skills and stimulates the desire to improve them. Let's take a look at its actual use in the context of the annual review.

What is the 360° Feedback tool?

Often referred to as the most powerful tool for developing skills, 360° feedback is an evaluation method that, unlike traditional tools, offers the opportunity to know the perception that others have of oneself. This method is particularly effective for measuring the mastery of key skills, but above all, for involving the individual in a development process.

Through multi-source evaluation, the 360° Feedback tool combines an employee's self-review with that of their professional entourage. It can be their manager, subordinates, colleagues, clients, former collaborators, etc. Each reviewer is asked to reflect on the employee's skills and indicates to what extent they have mastered them. Although this individual evaluation is subjective, it includes objectivity on a broader level; since multiple assessors are involved, the 360° Feedback thereby makes it possible to have a complete view of the employee.

Why use 360° Feedback in the annual review process?

The annual review is often a necessary step, where the classic ritual is to retrospect the employee's work with their manager and agree upon the common definition of new objectives. At the dawn of a new world of work, where employees demand more recognition and the quest for meaning is more topical than ever, a 360° feedback brings this promise of humanity and fulfilment.

It is an authentic way to carry out the annual reviews and envisage the future through the development of skills. The advantages are twofold. First, for the employee, it is an opportunity to get to know themselves with a new perspective and to take stock of their current and potential skills. Since this method is emotive, it naturally stimulates the motivation to develop one's skills.

Let's go back to the initial example and imagine that there is a gap between your score and those of others who evaluated you in terms of organisation or creativity. Wouldn't you like to invest in yourself to improve the perception others have of you? It is quite possible! And this is completely normal behaviour: as human beings, we seek to be recognised and present a positive image of ourselves. The 360° feedback tool thus acts as a natural and healthy engine for self-development by arousing the desire to be a better person through developing one's skills.

Second, the company is also a winner in the process, as employee skill development ensures the company's competitiveness and improves overall performance. Additionally, this alternative approach to employee consideration positively impacts well-being at work.

360° Feedback in action: a successful implementation in 5 concrete steps

The 4 steps of a 360° approach in annual reviews

The 360° feedback method is easy to use. The primary condition is that employees are willing to engage in this process. 

1. Setting up the process: The employee, informed about the progress of the process, must choose between 4 and 12 people from their current or past professional entourage. The process is then explained to the chosen reviewers, emphasising the anonymity of the responses and indicating a deadline for completing the evaluation.

2. Evaluation: The participant and reviewers individually complete a computerised questionnaire by assigning a score to each skill. These skills come from a repository of 60 transversal skills, which have been selected for their transferability to various professions and their potential for improvement.

3. Reporting of results: When all reviews are completed, a report is generated, and an annual interview is scheduled to present the results. During the annual interview, the discussions will focus on two levels: (1) the skills rated positively by everyone so that the employee becomes aware of their strengths, (2) the differences in perception between the employee and the reviewers to target the skills to be improved.

4. The development plan: Finally, based on the elements of the report and in line with the manager's expectations and the employee's needs, action plans for skill development can be created and implemented.

Using data from the 360° evaluation and discussing it with the employee not only enables the individual to understand their strengths and areas of improvement from a multi-source perspective, but employers can also re-assign tasks that, in turn, will create opportunities for the employee to display and develop the skills to be improved. Thus, the 360° Feedback tool, when used to its full potential, can increase the overall performance of both the employee and the organisation.

Helen Simard

Consultant Psychologist

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