360 degree feedback is a method and a tool that allows each employee the opportunity to receive performance feedback from his or her immediate superior and four to eight peers, reporting staff members, coworkers and customers. Most 360 degree feedback tools are also responded to by every individual in a self assessment. Sometimes, external consultants or vendors who work regularly with the employee are included too.

All appraisal systems build on the assumption that employees need feedback about their performance (a basic element). Feedback helps them know what to do and how well they are meeting goals. It shows that others are interested in what they are doing. Assuming that performance is satisfactory, feedback enhances and employee’s self image and feeling of competence. Generally, performance feedbkc leads to both improved perormance and improved attitudes-if handled properly by the manager.

However, giving feedback is a challenging task for managers. Feedbkc is more likely to be accepted and cause some improvement when it is properly presented. In general, it shold focus on specific job behaviors,, rely on objective data rather than subjective opinions and inferences., be well timed by being given soon after a critical event, and be checked for understanding by the receiver. Overall, it has the greatest chance for inducing a behavioral change if it is genuinely desired by the employee and is connected to job tasks, and if the receiver is allowed to choose a new behavior rom alternative recommendations offered.

 

In spite of the importance of performance feedbakc, many managers fail to provide enough of it on an ongoing basis. They may feel too busy, they may assume that employees are already aware oftheir performacne level so they may be reluctant to share bad news because of the negative reaction they expect to generate.

 

Conduction performance appraisals also has substantial impact on the appraiser. On the positive side, a formal appraisal system encourages managers to do more analytical and constructive thinking about their employees. The requirement of a face-to-face interview encourages managers to be more specific about identifying each employee;s abilities, interests and motivation. Managers often begin to perceive that each employee is truly different and must be treated that way. For example, greater participation may be more appropriate when an employee is knowledgeable, has a strong independence need, and has demostrated acceptable performance in the past.

 

Realistically, however, managers sometimes avoid giving appraisals because they do not want to disrupt an existing smooth relationship with an employee by providing negative feedback. People who have never gone through the 360 process before are usually initially worried about how the data will be used and if it will remain confidential. You need to ensure you assure them up-front that it is a confidential process and won’t come back to haunt them at performance review time.

When 360 degree feedback programs are done incorrectly, they could be a failure; however, when they’re done well, they can be an important part of driving increased growth for a team and an organization.