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360-degree feedback still effective tool in your talent assessment rotation

Posted March 1, 2017

By Michael Henckel, associate editor, J. J. Keller & Associates

A 360-degree feedback program can be a powerful tool, providing employees with assessments on how their coworkers perceive their effectiveness. Not only can the feedback point out areas for professional development by helping employees understand their strengths and weaknesses, it also helps employees understand how they are viewed by their colleagues. Having a program in place can be beneficial for your organization even as the 360-degree process is evolving.

An evolving history

The 360-degree process came into vogue between 1950 and 1960. The intent was to obtain feedback on employees from multiple sources instead of relying on the typical one-sided management assessment. As the name implies, feedback comes from participants surrounding the individual being reviewed: supervisors, peers, and direct reports. The theory is that varied sources provide more reliable information versus the limited view of a single source.

Early on, 360-degree feedback was meant to aid in manager development. Within the last 10 years, however, the model has evolved so that 360-degree feedback is being used as an evaluation tool for all employees (even those who do not have direct reports), making the process more of a peer review. That peer review helps supervisors conduct performance reviews or make decisions on job promotions.

Positive results still part of the package

Whether you are using a 360-degree feedback model to develop managers or trying to evaluate an employee’s effectiveness through peer review, the process can have many positive results, including:

Increased self-awareness – Completing a self-assessment as part of the process requires employees to reflect upon their own performance. Such reflection can make employees aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, which may make them more receptive to assessments they receive from others.

Career development – Employees should lead their own career development, and many are more accepting of feedback from multiple sources rather than from only their supervisor. Feedback from a variety of sources can help highlight areas where an employee excels, which could create an area of focus for career advancement.

Effective teamwork – When team members are encouraged to openly communicate regarding their perceptions of other team members, everyone becomes more accountable to the success of the team. The critiques, however, should remain constructive in nature. To avoid peer reviews from becoming anonymous criticisms or coworker hostility, coach your employees on providing constructive feedback. Used effectively, constructive feedback allows for greater teamwork by improving how employees communicate with each other.

Achieving corporate goals – In addition to meeting individual and team goals, when cross-departmental interactions occur, requesting feedback from members of those departments can also highlight how employee performance aligns with larger company goals and initiatives.

About the author:

Michael Henckel

Michael Henckel is an associate editor at J. J. Keller & Associates, a nationally recognized compliance resource company that offers products and services to address the range of responsibilities held by human resources and corporate professionals. Henckel specializes in topics such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, employee classification, and compensation. He is the author of J. J. Keller’s FSLA Essentials guidance manual. For more information, visit