Reinventing the 360 Review Process

Posted on September 1, 2019 by

The annual 360 performance review should be a happy milestone in an employee’s year.  An employee and their manager or supervisor come together and talk about what went well for the employee and what didn’t go so right.  This information, however, comes courtesy of some randomly selected internal employees and some external vendors and or customers assigned to assess the employee as part of their 360 performance assessment.  It should be a meeting full of praise and perhaps some constructive criticism.  The employee anticipates that the employer will remember everything that the employee has done right, all the extra effort the employee made to perform above average, the many comments from customers, pleased with the service received.   Performance review meetings should be a time to assess skills, address an employee’s future path, praise the good and find ways to correct the bad right?  But in reality it is far from that for so many reasons.

Generally speaking, annual performance reviews are a source of anxiety for everyone involved.  The employee who has worked really hard all year and is anticipating a nice sized raise finds out during his review that he didn’t perform nearly as well as he thought.  He is angry and upset because no one mentioned anything to him regarding his missteps during the year. Silence is golden, or so the employee thought.   The other reviewers are completely unknown to the employee and therefore unavailable for clarification.  The supervisor reviewing the employee can’t remember any highlights in the employee’s year and is too embarrassed to ask the employee for his/her accomplishments.  This process is a failure on so many levels:

This process could go a whole lot easier if the employee was able to continually assess their own performance during the year, prior to the annual review process.  After all, with the current 360 process, the employee is at the mercy of the employer and whoever they choose to provide feedback.  There is no dialogue between the employee and the person providing feedback.  If the employee is unclear about the feedback comments, he remains in the dark and is subject to another person’s interpretation of the unclear message.  Additionally, because there is no real conversation between the employee and the reviewer, an employee can easily become less motivated, defensive and unwilling to accept the criticism, leading to more poor performance.   Even if the employee could provide a great defense it would be too late.  The employee’s fate as well as his meager increase has been sealed.

The 360 review process should be a process that assists the employee in seeking out those with whom he or she knows, trusts and works with to perform the assessments.  Having the employee in charge of their own evaluation process throughout the year will help to motivate them to work harder on increasing their performance and productivity.  Because they are in charge of the process and because they can decide whether or not to share the results with their superiors, they will find themselves empowered which leads to more confident, better trained and motivated employees.

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