Benefits and Features of 360-Degree Feedback Software Tools

Performance reviews have come a long way since they were first widely introduced in the 1950s. However, they were still largely ineffective and inefficient even throughout the 1980’s. A change occurred in the 1990s and the performance review process began to be dramatically reformed, with a move away from the rigid, outdated and impractical annual appraisals towards Agile Performance Reviews. As tech companies emerged on the forefront of entrepreneurship and development, so too did the software tools they proposed to facilitate and modernise the performance reviews process.

This piece is going to outline the values and benefits of implementing 360-degree tools and show you how these software solutions can help to grow your business, uncover areas for development as well as boost employee satisfaction. Jump on, enjoy the ride!

Values and benefits of 360-degree feedback software

·      Precision

As the name indicates; the main point of 360-degree feedback is that it provides reviews from managers, co-workers and direct reports. In that sense, it provides feedback from all sides; thereby giving a more complete picture of your competencies. Fleur Wennink from Booking.com said “as a HR Coach, I see that for high performing teams, one of the big things is that they continuously communicate with each other and that they continuously give each other feedback as well”.

·      Better understanding of performance

As the feedback received in 360-degree feedback programs comes from all different levels and not just managers the feedback becomes more meaningful, as employees can see how their work is perceived across different groups. This is important, as very often, a manager is not the best person to judge performance. They may have a lot of people reporting to them and therefore may not have the ability to stay on top of each individual’s progress. This is where feedback from co-workers is invaluable in the performance review process.

·      Promoting honesty and openness

One of the most important benefits of 360-degree feedback software is that it opens up communication channels between employees in ways the traditional reviews process simply does not! According to Impraise co-founder Steffen Maier, “feedback should always be a starting point of a conversation… and having an anonymous conversation first is a great way to learn how to formulate feedback well and become more comfortable with face-to-face feedback. Implementing 360-degree feedback shows that everybody’s opinion is valued. Often a formal 360 is the first time people are asked to give positive or constructive feedback.”.

·      Reinforces company culture

Company values and culture can be strengthened through the use of employee engagement surveys, a particular function your 360-degree feedback software needs to have. This reinforces company values and also sends the message that employee satisfaction is essential to the business.

·      Versatile

360-degree  feedback software tools are highly versatile. Companies utilise them in various ways including in the on-boarding process for new employees, for performance appraisals, to promote a more honest and cohesive work environment, but also for uncovering areas where future development might be necessary.

·      Autonomy

Using 360-degree feedback software gives additional autonomy to the individual worker, as it gives them control over their own personal development and ultimately the path of their career. “You know best when you want to receive feedback, and you know best when you need it” said Impraise co-founder Steffen Maier. Therefore, with 360-degree feedback software you can also request feedback from colleagues; so, you get the feedback you need, when you require it.

·      Efficiency and ease of use

One considerable bonus of using 360-degree feedback software is the streamlining it provides to HR processes. Regular check ins and conversations which are encouraged by the 360-degree nature of the process make annual or biannual performance reviews a much less daunting task for managers as the information is clearly and readily available via automatically generated reports as provided by your software solution.

As some 360-degree feedback solutions also provide a mobile app, this makes providing feedback and staying in contact with colleagues that much easier. Very often people use the app versions of their 360-degree feedback software tool while travelling to and from work by train or bus. This is ideal as it provides the busy employee the time they need to reflect on the day; the feedback that they might require; or indeed the feedback they would like to give to their fellow employees.

The ease of use of such software tools make them invaluable to companies, as they are easy to implement and testimonials show that employees are very receptive towards these new feedback procedures.

All of the features your 360-degree feedback software must have

·      Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are the main desirable function of 360-degree feedback software programs. Good 360-software solutions combine both qualitative and quantitative feedback for more insightful reviews. They should be fully customizable, thus allowing companies to focus on important skills and even add open ended questions to gain maximum insight. As part of the review process reports are automatically generated, and identify hidden strengths and potential blind spots.

·      Goals and objectives

A wise man once said “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”. This is certainly true of both the personal and professional lives of your employees. Research has repeatedly shown the merits of setting goals and objectives. An effective 360-software  solution should assist employees in the formation, tracking, and completion of their desired goals.

·      360 Degree Feedback

Managers and HR professionals should be able to organize 360-degree feedback for individuals (or any group of people) easily and quickly. The workload should be minimised for everyone as feedback becomes consistent and relevant. All levels of seniority need to be catered to with 360-degree feedback. Such programs help to develop key leadership behaviours, which will assist your managers in effectively managing their teams. Additionally, customizing these types of software means you have complete control over the skills and behaviours your managers need to incorporate and develop.

Just as it is important to assist managers in identifying unknown strengths and potential blind spots, so too is it for their subordinates. Many software solutions come with a mobile version to enable easy contact between colleagues within an app. This facilitates ‘peer coaching’ which enables employees to give meaningful feedback that provokes conversations, to be continued either in or out of the app. These peer-coaching sessions enable individuals to focus on key behaviours, uncover blind spots, or things they need to work on in order to make them more effective workers.

·      Real-time Feedback

While 360-feedback, should be feedback from all sides, it should also be all the time. Providing real-time feedback is crucial to the successful implementation of 360-degree feedback software. If employees are reluctant to give regular feedback or interact with the software, it can render the software redundant. By receiving real-time feedback on their performance in real-time, employees learn what they are doing well but also in what areas they are lacking proficiency and need to work on. In this sense it has considerable cross-over with the goals and objectives and peer-coaching functions. Aside from this, the instantaneous nature of the feedback shortens the feedback cycle and helps your employees learn faster. Sending constructive feedback or positive recognition at any time helps to build team spirit and encourages more open face-to-face conversations.

·      Anonymity if required

If sharing feedback with managers or colleagues is new to your employees, they may struggle to become comfortable with it at first. Your 360-degree feedback software should have an anonymous feature built-in that can be used initially to develop trust in the process knowing that, rather than being penalized for sharing feedback, their comments will be accepted and taken on board by managers and peers alike. A private environment will encourage your employees to have honest conversations. Honesty and trust is key to more actionable feedback. This will gradually assist everybody to become comfortable with face-to-face feedback.

·      Insightful Analytics

Of course, one of the main points of getting 360-feedback is so that ‘actionable feedback’ is generated. It is then imperative that this feedback is then acted upon. Your 360-software should collate this information into a personalised individual report which each employee receives. Feedback from colleagues or managers can be easily compared against a person’s self-assessment. This will enable your team the ability to understand their own strengths and learning opportunities.

·      Easy Implementation

Your 360-software should be highly flexible and customizable, whether it is 360-degree reviews or transitioning your company into a culture of continuous feedback. All questions, skills and competencies, as well as, frequency of feedback need be fully customisable to your organization's needs. Your 360-software needs to be easy to implement and, also will not disrupt your company’s flow.