The Importance of Peer Feedback: What is a 360 Review?

At work, what do you think when you hear the words ‘feedback’ and ‘review’? Some of us will have flashbacks to being pulled into the boss’ office for a serious talking to. Whereas most of us will be reminded of the standard monthly and annual performance reviews managers employ to mark our progress. However, while such meetings are important, so is obtaining peer feedback. One effective way to do this is to conduct a 360 review. So, what is a 360 review? And why is peer feedback so beneficial in the workplace? We’re here to tell you!

What is a 360 review?

Like most employees, you’ll be accustomed to receiving feedback from management or your superiors. To move forward professionally, of course it’s essential to identify areas for improvement and work on them.

Your manager or supervisor will often let you know how they think you’re getting on and the changes you’ll need to implement. However, this is only the opinion of one person! It can be extremely helpful to get a thorough idea of your performance at work from different viewpoints. This is where 360 reviews come in.

They are a tool that allows teams to provide feedback on their colleagues, as well as management, meaning that performance is reviewed from all angles – hence the name! A 360 review will focus less on the role an individual performs, but more on how they are viewed overall as a professional.

What are the benefits of peer feedback?

We’ve already touched upon some of the benefits of 360 reviews, but we thought we’d hand over to our Talent and Development Manager, Sophie Finlay, to elaborate:

“Having learnt of the benefits of a 360 team analysis earlier in 2016, we felt that it was the right time to introduce it to our team as the end of the year approached. Going through our own 360 process at the end of 2016 gave everyone an opportunity to reflect, review and consider ourselves at work before starting 2017 with a renewed sense of self and focus.”

When your manager gives you feedback, it can feel like you’re being ‘told off’ – which no one likes! Gathering anonymous feedback from co-workers and seeing a visual scale of how you’re getting on at work can help you to see areas of improvement. It can also be a confidence boost to see how great your colleagues think you are!

How is it done?

So, now you know what a 360 review is and why should you do it, it’s only logical to address how it’s done. It’s not as daunting as it sounds! Each individual within a business or a particular team (depending on the size of the company in question) is given a feedback form. This form can be in whatever format the person administering the reviews chooses; a paper test, an online form or a digital document, for instance.

The test will include a selection of questions based on workplace skills such as communication, leadership and teamwork. Responses are given via some sort of scale or ranking, meaning you that those completing the reviews will need to allocate a rating or score for each particular question. For this reason, 360 reviews are quite straightforward and quick to complete. You may be given space to explain your reasoning at the end of each question or section.

360 reviews shouldn’t include too many questions, or aim to assess more specialist skills or abilities that could be assessed in a more appropriate manner. In addition, to allow for total honesty, such assessments are normally done anonymously.

The results are then collated and each individual receives an overall review based on how they were scored by their colleagues. The details will then be discussed with each person on a one-to-one basis.

What do I have to do?

Is your company conducting 360 reviews soon? Or are you a manager who is implementing these assessments for the first time? You may be unsure of what to do and expect, or you may feel a little apprehensive. Let us ease your concerns and guide you through it.

What is required of you depends on your perspective, so we’ve broken it down for you.

Contributor

If you’ve been asked to complete a 360 review for your colleagues and manager/s, here’s what you need to do:

  • Be honest – you’re providing anonymous feedback, so don’t worry about the repercussions.
  • Be fair – it’s not a competition, don’t be too stingy or overly-generous with your scores.
  • Stay calm – there’s no right or wrong answer.
  • Answer the questions without bias – you may really like or loathe someone, don’t let your opinion sway your answers.

Recipient

If you are waiting on the results of your 360 review, there’s nothing to be concerned about. Remember the following points:

  • This is for your benefit – the aim of the 360 is to help you to develop, improve and achieve your professional goals.
  • It’s in your hands – what you choose to do with the results is entirely up to you. Any required changes that are suggested by the results of a 360 will not be enforced.
  • Be receptive – assume any criticism to be constructive and try to learn from your results.
  • Don’t take the results personally – especially if they’re not what you were expecting.

Manager

As a manager, you’ll need to support your team in completing the tests (even if you are not the person in charge of administering them) and you will also be given feedback yourself! Bear in mind these things:

  • Allow enough time and give notice – make sure that you give your team sufficient time to complete the feedback at work. This will prevent them rushing through the forms, allowing for more accurate results.
  • Make sure the team understand – again, you may not be in charge of the 360 reviews being rolled out. However, it is still worthwhile to make sure that your team understand what they are doing and why.
  • Brace yourself – you are giving your team the opportunity to provide anonymous feedback about you. Such an opportunity won’t come up often, so they might get a little carried away.
  • Try to be open minded about the feedback you receive – there’s always room for improvement!

There you have it, 360 reviews in a nutshell! Now you’ve read up on this increasingly popular method of seeking peer feedback, you’ll be able to tackle them head on. The key point to remember is: feedback will help you become a better version of you at work. So, welcome it!

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