Annual, top-down performance reviews no longer cut it. What managers and employees really want is full, 360-degree feedback, where everyone’s opinion can be heard.
Top-down performance reviews have rarely earned any manager or employee any valuable insight. Unfortunately, they can often be as far removed from fostering employee/manager relationships as can be, but far worse than this is their fundamental flaw: that the feedback bosses give via them can often be inaccurate and based only on the very limited interactions he/she might have had with employees during the course of that year.
Often removed from what their direct reports really contribute amongst their teams, it’s much more likely managers have an inaccurate view about what a person really is like to work with; what their level of professionalism is, or whether they engender collaboration; or reach their objectives. To their credit, many bosses now agree. A recent poll1 found 87% of both parties agreed one-on-one reviews alone were ineffective and not fit for purpose. But knowing this and breaking default habits are two very different things.
Not lack of feedback; just the right ‘type’ of feedback
It’s not that employees don’t like feedback – in fact 75% of employees say it’s invaluable2 (with millennials, in particular, appreciating it as often as possible). The issue they have is that many feel it doesn’t come from the right place – ie the people they actually work with on a day-to-day basis. What staff really want isn’t the view of one, but the view of many achieved by implementing full 360-degree feedback.
A fuller picture creates wider organisational benefits
Feedback from peers is preferred because it literally presents employees in the round. Some 45% of employee respondents to a recent PwC survey3 said they wanted feedback from clients and peers principally because of this.
But there are more good reasons organisations should start to support 360-degree reviews. For not only do they bring a much-needed boost to those for whom the feedback is directly about (those who experience 360-degree feedback report having better morale and confidence – thus boosting their engagement and productivity), but its impact is far wider. By involving others, seeking their views and listening to colleagues, managers bring about inclusivity to a business. They help foster a greater sense of connection, where everyone’s opinion matters. When there is an expectation that feedback should be inclusive, it boosts company culture, breaks-down silos, and builds a consensus that everyone can learn from each other. In other words, openness and transparency matters. So successfully have some firms been in using 360-degree feedback, that it’s now colleagues that co-set the pay of their peers – even that of the CEOs – as well as a host of other benefits, like the amount of holiday they are allowed to take.
Fairness for all
Where 360-degree reviews really excel though, is by also bringing much-needed consistency to the sometimes inconsistent and disorganised approach that one-to-ones can have.
Most managers will admit they simply don’t have time to properly plan reviews for staff. Often they’re conducted with a quick few minutes grabbed, and (perhaps because of uneasiness tackling difficult issues), problems can be skirted around, or not mentioned at all. At worse they often fail to bring fairness to all, and favour just those who managers have better personal relationships with.
Put process into your performance management
Because 360-degree reviews are a more process-driven event, requiring a tech-solution based solution, none of these pitfalls survive. Feedback now requires rules: alerts, so others can be asked to contribute their feedback, feedback criteria that is repeatable each time, and systems to collate and analyse the results. In essence it brings back the whole point of doing reviews in the first place – to record, analysis and discuss performance, set against goals, targets, and in a fact-based, adult way.
It sounds so simple when you think about it. One person’s view is merely an opinion; the opinion of many, if uninfluenced, starts to create facts.
The good news is staff aren’t afraid of hearing from others, because it gives crucial light and shade, and the basis for how they can improve going forward. It’s surely time for more managers to embrace seeing the full picture in front of them.