How to Provide Coworker Feedback for a 360 Review

You can provide responsible and effective feedback to coworkers

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Have you been asked to provide 360-degree feedback for another employee? When a manager provides feedback in a 360 review, your coworkers can benefit from your frank feedback. The goal of feedback for a 360 review is to help the employee improve his or her performance and become a better contributor at work.

In an ideal world, employees feel comfortable and confident enough to give each other honest feedback face-to-face. But, several problems exist with this face-to-face this approach.

Problems With Face-to-Face Feedback

The average employee is not comfortable giving feedback directly to a colleague especially less than positive feedback. The feedback is often not comprehensive and is instead focused on whatever the coworker is doing that is bugging his colleague now.

Additionally, the feedback is focused on identifying problems and areas that are not working effectively—ideally, feedback takes a more nuanced approach and focuses on ideas for improvement—not just on the negative.

So, most organizations that use 360 feedback rely heavily on 360 feedback that is turned in to a manager who then integrates and shares the feedback with the employee. Alternatively, organizations are also pursuing electronic methods wherein the chosen 360 feedback raters are allowed to respond electronically to maintain anonymity for their responses.

Electronic methods, even when the rater is identified and the coworker is able to approach them to understand the feedback, are not ideal. Many employees are uncomfortable seeking additional feedback and many raters are uncomfortable providing the feedback essential for the rated employee's work improvement.

Why Coworkers' Feedback Makes 360 Feedback More Effective

An organization can only continue to grow and prosper if its employees do. Since employees are rarely overseen constantly by the manager, you want the manager’s feedback to the employee to reflect the opinions and examples of people who work with the coworker daily.

The manager needs the opportunity to assess whether his or her feedback is congruent with that of the coworkers with whom the employee interacts daily. It also supplements the manager’s thoughts and examples (which is healthy) in a 360 review. Your organization is more effective when a variety of voices affect feedback to employees.

Tips for Providing Better 360-Degree Feedback

To provide effective feedback, however, you need to follow these tips. If you take the time to provide feedback, you want the feedback to be useful for the 360 reviews from the manager.

The Balance, 2019 

Make Your Feedback Straightforward and Honest

You hinder your colleague’s development if you hedge your words, leave out deserved criticism, or send up a smoke screen that fogs the real interaction that you have with the employee.

Say, "I am bothered a great deal when Mary completes her assignments late. My entire team is then forced to wait until we can complete our portion of the project. This causes us to rush and not turn out our best work. Or, we miss our deadline, too."

Don’t Write a Book

The manager can only deal with a certain amount of information whether it is praise or criticism. Make your key points as succinctly as you can. If you have criticisms, pick one to three to share. You don’t need to go on and on with details that don’t elucidate your key points. State the facts, as you see them. A manager will find dealing with five pages of input impossible.

Do Make Your Key Points

You serve the 360 review process best if you highlight your key interactions with your coworker. Emphasize the positive aspects of working with him or her and any negatives that could use development.

Three of each is a number that the manager can deal with effectively combined with the feedback of other employees. This will also force you to focus on the most important aspects of your coworker’s performance—both positive and negative.

Provide Examples That Illustrate Your Most Important Points

Your feedback will most help your colleague if you can provide an example that helps their manager understand your point. Saying that John is a poor meeting leader is not as helpful as saying that when John leads meetings, people talk over each other, the meetings go over their scheduled time, start late, and rarely have an agenda, is helpful.

If you say that Sarah doesn’t listen very well to the opinions of other employees, you are not providing the manager with enough information. Describe how Sarah’s unwillingness to listen to other employees effects work.

State, "Sarah calls a group of us together and asks for our opinion and almost never alters her decision or direction based on the feedback other employees provide. Consequently, few employees care to offer her their opinion anymore."

State that when you update Sandi about a project that you are both active on, she forgets what you told her. During your next interaction, she asks all of the same questions over again.

Specific feedback for Larry might focus on the fact that every time you make a critical comment or try to have input to your shared project, he exhibits visible anger and argues about the input. It is not conducive to your continuing to give honest feedback.

Don’t Expect to See the Employee Act on Your Feedback

The manager is looking for patterns of behavior, both positive and negative. If you are the only coworker who offers a particular criticism or praise, the manager may choose to focus on the behaviors that more employees identified.

Plus, managers recognize that employees can only focus on a few things at a time to effectively change their behavior. Hitting the employee with ten different areas that need improvement will result in a demoralized employee who feels as if he or she is doing nothing right.

You want an employee to perceive feedback as a genuine opportunity to grow personal and professional skills, not as a dump about everything he or she is doing wrong.

Don’t Worry That What You Say Will Cause Bad Things to Happen to Your Coworker

The employee’s manager is looking for patterns that he or she can share with the employee. Your feedback is only one piece that goes into the awarding of raises, promotions, and goodwill. The feedback from additional coworkers, the manager’s opinions, the employee’s self-evaluation, and their work contributions and accomplishments all affect the performance appraisal.

Use the Experience as a Chance to Think About Your Own Contributions and Behaviors

As you think about your coworker’s performance and interaction, use it as an opportunity to examine similar actions and habits that you may have that people love or hate. You’re sure to find some commonalities with your coworker. It’s a great opportunity to look at yourself and think about what you could do to improve.

If you offer effective, thoughtful feedback with examples so that the manager can share the feedback with your coworker. or your coworker can read the feedback and digest the essence of its applicability, you present an opportunity for the employee to grow.

It also ensures that each employee’s performance and contribution have broad organizational input. It is so much more effective than relying exclusively on one manager’s opinion.