Rating your employees takes careful consideration of objective facts and performance of job duties. Observing and documenting your employees helps you remember the full scope of performance over the entire rating period. However, you cannot watch all of your employees all of the time. That's when peer input on performance reviews is valuable.
Performance reviews that include the observations of peers, also referred to as 360-degree feedback, allow co-worker input on another employee's evaluation. Comments from other staff members, fellow supervisors and customers are all used to give a complete picture of the level of performance of your employee. It is one of the most commonly used appraisal systems because the information that it contains is comprehensive and the employee is given concrete examples for the rating received on the report.
When an employee hears the feedback given by a variety of unbiased co-workers and supervisors, it's difficult to refute areas that you point out for improvement. For example, if your employee must perform a service to customers outside the organization or to other employees, then one who is not performing the job adequately will receive negative feedback by both types of clientele. This will help you to write a performance plan for improvement and, once the employee is performing satisfactorily, it can lead to increased profits due to better customer service. Communicating your expectations effectively is an advantage to peer reviews because it makes employees more receptive to your input, as they don't feel defensive about your impression of their work habits. The rating is a combination of feedback, instead of your opinion alone.
Ensuring that there is no bias in the peer reviews is imperative to the success of this approach. Whether the co-worker provides unsupported positive or negative feedback due to a friendship, or lack thereof, will not help to accurately rate the employee. Choose peers who are above-average performers and continually produce a professional work output. Also, if the reviewers are not trained in how to report performance, such as using objective measures and documented examples, the 360-feedback system will not work. In addition, if opinions are reported without an abundance of facts, then the morale of the employee being reviewed may suffer and expectations of performance will not be clear. Therefore, the employee's development won't advance.
Performance reviews are based on plans outlining required duties that the employee was given when hired. This plan should be given to those who are chosen for feedback regarding the employee's performance to match the current duties with the company's expectations. If a job has changed during the rating period, then reviewers should be given an updated plan. Also, insist that all information be kept confidential and not discussed with anyone, including the employee being reviewed. Allow those who are not comfortable with rating a peer an opportunity to decline an invitation to participate. Overall, make it a positive experience by emphasizing employee development and company growth as an objective of the appraisal system.
- e-HResources.com; The Advantages and Disadvantages of a "360" Feedback Process; Linda Gravett, Ph.D., SPHR
- Censeo: The Value of 360 Degree Feedback
- SIGMA Assessment Systems, Inc.: Best Practices in 360 Degree Feedback
- San Diego State University College of Education; 360-degree Feedback: Weighing the Pros and Cons; Terri Linman; 2004