7 Tips to Make Your
360 Performance Review Work for You

What is a 360 performance review?

A 360 performance review is a formalized process where you receive feedback from others(known as raters) who work with you. This is different to a more traditional performance review where your direct supervisor provides the feedback.

Raters include your direct supervisor, your peers and direct reports, and also your internal and your external customers.

Although this review is used specifically for appraising performance, most 360 degree reviews are used for developmental purposes - i.e. getting feedback on your strengths and weaknesses/developmental opportunities and then using that information to develop your employee development plan. 360 performance review systems are nearly universal in Fortune 500 companies and becoming increasingly popular in other leading global and multinational companies.

As organizations evolve over time to become flatter and geographically diverse 360 performance review systems play an important role in gathering useful and valuable feedback on your performance and development from a wider source.

They also give feedback to your company's leadership on vision, culture, work practices and behaviors that support such things such as a team based working environment.

Important considerations

Experience with the 360 performance review can be good, bad or mixed depending on how it is used and your experience with it both as a rater and as the person at the receiving end.

Linking 360 feedback to performance and then compensation is complex and needs to be handled well in order for it to work effectively. If handled well, employees generally indicate more satisfaction with feedback from several sources rather than just their manager who at times may not be the best judge of their performance.

If you are going to be part of this process then it is important to understand the system properly, your roles and responsibilities and most importantly how you as an individual being rated can benefit from the process and make the most of it.

7 tips to make it work for you

1. Understand your system

This is a good place to start so that you get to know how the overall performance review system in your company works. Although it is a 360 performance review system many of the characteristics will be similar to a standard performance review system.

2. Understand the survey process

In most cases this kind of review is administered through some form of survey. Find out how the survey is designed, how it will work and who will administer it - internally or externally. Ask if you will be given any training. Good survey processes are administered professionally and all the participants trained to understand their roles and responsibilities.

3. Get trained properly

Actively participate in any training that is provided on your company's 360 performance review system so you have a clear understanding of how everything will work.

If you are a rater take your task seriously and provide accurate and constructive feedback that can be used to improve performance.

If you are being rated then have a clear understanding of what you and your supervisor will do with the information from the other raters, how the feedback will be handled and how you will use it to improve yourself. If these are unclear then ask questions.

It is your performance review so you better have a good idea of how it will work. Also, find out who you can approach if you are unhappy with any part of the process.

4. Select your raters carefully

You can do this by including a good cross section of the people you work with. Apart from your supervisor most 360 performance review systems will enable you to nominate your peers, direct reports and customers.

If you are able to nominate people outside your organization then do so - sometimes outsiders bring a different and useful perspective which could benefit you. If you work with a diverse team then ensure you reflect that in your rater selection particularly if they are culturally and geographically diverse.

Raters usually remain anonymous but in some systems their names are disclosed. Raters may not feel comfortable in disclosing their identity but if you have a mature and open working environment then you could request disclosure. This will enable you to close the loop with them after they have given you the feedback and request further clarification if necessary.

If the situation is difficult then approach it in the right spirit - i.e. don't criticize but ask for more input on what you can do to improve it! And, thank them. Giving and receiving feedback is not easy so acknowledge others for taking time to give you feedback.

You may be asked to review your raters with your supervisor so prepare in advance so you can justify your selection. Have an open mind if you are asked to change a rater - but also ask for an explanation. Your supervisor may have a good reason.

5. Prepare in advance

By collecting good and accurate information about your performance so you can write about yourself. Some 360 performance reviews will also collect your own input so spend some time thinking about how you will communicate clearly and effectively. Also, where relevant understand the skills and competencies required for success in your work. Often 360 performance reviews have reference to this so it is best to be prepared.

6. Have the discussion

Once you and your raters have given the feedback and the data has been collated it is time to have the discussion with your supervisor. Make sure you are ready for it by preparing well in advance. Know what questions to ask and how to handle difficult issues if they come up during the discussion. Use this opportunity to ask for specific feedback on your performance and your career, and howyou can become better.

7. Use the feedback effectively

Use the information from your 360 performance review to improve yourself. Ask specific questions on how each information should be handled and particularly how your gaps and plans for improvement can be linked to your employee development plan. Discuss with your supervisor the most relevant career development techniques to include in your development plan. Surveys indicate that360 performance reviews are most effective when linked to 1:1 coaching - so if this opportunity exists in your company then make the most of it.

A final word on 360 performance review

Remember - how others perceive you is a combination of how you portray yourself and also how they see you.

Perception is reality - whether you like it or not.You control how you portray yourself to a large extent - so make the most of the feedback information and maximize your effectiveness.

Final word - don't wait for others to give you feedback - both through formal (e.g. 360) or informal processes - actively solicit it yourself!

The more you solicit and get feedback regularly the more you can improve yourself.

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