360 Degree Feedback: A New Approach of Performance Appraisals

Regardless of the size of your organization, conducting performance appraisals is likely a task on your HR department’s to do list. A performance appraisal typically serves three main functions:

  • Provide feedback to each employee on their performance and contribution.
  • Identify what could be improved to achieve more effective working habits.
  • Help managers judge how they should delegate tasks in the future based on each employee’s area of specialty and efficiency.

However, a common problem that can be found with performance appraisals is that its downward feedback nature sometimes feel pointless. Being obliged to give a performance appraisal, managers that have little idea of what was actually happening while the work is being done fall into the trap of providing unnatural advice and belated compliments. While some argue that performance appraisals should be eliminated completely, the existence of a performance review can still be helpful if done slightly differently…

What is a 360-Degree Feedback

A 360-degree feedback gathers feedback and evaluation for an employee from their subordinates, colleagues, supervisors and themselves. If given the opportunity, 360-degree feedback can also include feedback from external sources such as customers or suppliers. The method is named as such because it entails feedback from a variety of points of view. This contrasts to the usual downward and upward feedback, in which one way performance appraisals are given.

As we already know, feedback is important for growth. However, what makes 360-degree feedback extra valuable is that it is one of the most practical ways to create a feedback-rich environment and provide a comprehensive review for each individual. Let’s take a look at the break down of each component of a 360-degree feedback and its benefits.


When the Advisory Council at the Stanford Business School asked its members what they believed is a necessary attribute for business leaders to become more effective, the answer that everyone came to an agreement with was the need for greater self-awareness by leaders. Sometimes employees are too consumed with trying to complete the task at hand that they cannot find time to stop and uncover what issues may be hindering their productivity or growth. On the other hand, by first taking the time to conduct a self-evaluation, employees are likely to be able to participate more constructively in feedback meetings with their supervisors and teams. Self-evaluation is a great opportunity for one to identify weaknesses and set goals for efficiency and career development.

Team Feedback

As opposed to managers, team members are those that work side-by-side with an employee. By receiving well thought-out feedback from team members, it helps not only with increasing the efficiency of team projects, but also create a sense of unity and cohesion among the team. This process is also a great opportunity for teams to discuss and potentially reevaluate who would be the best fit for specific tasks in a team project. Having an idea of coworker perception also helps employee understand how others view their work. A chance for innovation and continuous learning, team feedback is just as crucial as feedback from a leader.

Client’s Input

Though it may be more difficult to attain, some review from your clients on an employee can also provide helpful information for the feedback process. The more sources consulted, the more likely the possibility of biases and discrimination can be reduced. Not only will you make your clients feel that their opinion is important and appreciated, you can also most directly spot what issues there may be with the way your employee or team is conducting certain tasks right now. This will help your employees promptly improve their service to customers.

Manager’s Role

On top of providing feedback to the employee, it is also essential for managers to take the lead in facilitating and creating a structure for the process. As a result of its comprehensive nature, a 360-degree feedback requires large amount of data collection and summarization. Furthermore, many of those participating in the feedback process may be inexperienced raters. This leads to the possibility or receiving feedback that may be too excessive or not applicable.

One potential concern with 360-degree feedback is that the information may be too scattered to be useful. It is thus up to the HR manager to schedule meetings and expectations and deadlines for the entire feedback process. The 360-degree feedback process should be incorporated as a long term development measurement rather than a one-time experiment for it to be truly effective in increasing your organization’s efficiency.

Develop for the Future

The ultimate purpose of a 360-degree feedback is to help each employee understand their strengths and weaknesses. Through this process, valuable insight can be found for all individuals involved. This can help not only with personal professional development, but also a strengthening of teamwork and accountability. Some studies have even shown that turnover rates drop by almost 15% when employees receive regular feedback. Next time performance appraisal rolls around for your organization, try out the 360-degree feedback method instead!