Soliciting input from other senior staff and co-workers is an excellent way for a manager to collect feedback that forms a 360-degree view that is helpful for employee development reviews. Organizations that use such a 360 review process, however, can leave managers awash in a sea of data.
An open-ended question asking for the co-worker's view of an employee’s performance—both good and bad—will elicit an outpouring of unorganized data and opinions. There are better ways to ask.
A Structured Format Is Recommended for 360 Reviews
Without a structured question format for 360 reviews, free-form answers may provide a lot of data but won't help the employee grow and prosper. The manager will find it challenging to distill into useful, actionable performance feedback.
The response to the request for 360 feedback can be especially overwhelming in an organization with a culture of trust. In environments of goodwill, employees want to let their managers know when a co-worker has served them well. They'd also like to see improvements in areas where co-workers have a negative impact on their performance.
Managers receive so many pages of feedback in an unstructured 360 review format that it can feel the time invested in organizing it outweighs the benefits of the process. This is not good.
360 reviews are crucial to an employee’s ability to understand and act on feedback that will help them contribute more effectively.
While the manager's feedback is important, it is an incomplete picture because the manager doesn't work with the employee every day. The manager may see the employee rarely and only receive progress reports at scheduled one-on-one meetings.
You can develop one set of questions to use in each 360 review request you send out. This is a step in the right direction.
Just as individual new employee onboarding processes are developed to encompass the new employee's job, it is recommended that you choose from a sample group of questions so you can focus on specific aspects of an employee's performance. Each year, you can introduce a different area to develop and pick suitable questions for the individual employee's needs.
Indeed.com tracked its employment ads for the attributes employers most frequently sought in potential employees and these formed the basis for the sample questions.
360 Review Questions
Here are a sample format and questions to use when requesting feedback in a 360-degree review.
Instructions: Please answer the following questions about the job performance of (employee name). Emphasize your individual experience working directly with this person and their team. We’d like to learn about what the individual does well in five specific areas: leadership, interpersonal skills, problem-solving, motivation, and efficiency.
We’d also like you to suggest areas for improvement where possible. Provide examples whenever you can as these best illuminate the employee's actions in context.
Your answers will be combined with the rest of the feedback we receive and we will provide the information to the employee. Because of individual incidents that may be identifiable by the employee, we don’t guarantee the confidentiality of your feedback. We need to use examples so the employee can obtain a realistic and actionable picture of their performance.
- Does this employee exhibit leadership qualities in the roles they play in the company?
- If so, can you provide examples of how they positively contribute through their leadership?
- If not, how can the employee improve their leadership?
- When this employee works with co-workers, what interpersonal skills do they demonstrate?
- Have you experienced any problems with them interpersonally?
- How would you recommend the employee improve their interpersonal and relationship-building skills?
- Does the employee effectively solve problems?
- If so, what are the skills they demonstrated in solving problems and arriving at solutions and improvements?
- If less than proficient in problem-solving, in what areas of problem-solving would you recommend the employee focus to be able to improve their skills?
- Does the employee appear to be motivated by their work-related tasks, job, and relationships?
- How does the employee demonstrate their motivation and commitment to success in the company?
- Have you experienced any difficulties with the level of the employee’s motivation?
- Are the employee’s work methods and approach to accomplishing the job effective, efficient, and continuously improving?
- Are there areas of improvement you would recommend for this employee that would help accomplish the work more effectively? Or, are there areas the employee could improve to help you accomplish your work more effectively?
These five examples of the types of questions that will improve the effectiveness of your 360 reviews are designed to help the employees responding understand specifically what you want to know. The questions help organize the feedback in a way that makes it easier for you to share the information with the employee.
The Bottom Line
Providing feedback to the employee is more effective when you frame questions that guide what you receive. Use these sample questions to prepare your own 360 reviews or write your own based on the examples.