Performance Reviews

360 degree appraisals: How to ditch the annual performance review

Starting your first 360-degree review may seem overwhelming, but it’s easier than you think. If you’ve subscribed to our step-by-step monthly guide to introducing a feedback culture into your company, you’ll have already read about how to:



Now that you’ve followed these steps it’s time to introduce 360-degree feedback to the whole company. Keep these steps in mind to facilitate a smooth transition:


1. Explain why


If your previous performance review process was cumbersome and not well received by employees, it’s necessary to explain why 360-degree reviews are different. Your ultimate goal is to have as many employees actively participating as possible. Rather than simply making it mandatory, communicate how it will benefit them. This will help create a division in their minds between the old and new process.


One of the greatest benefits of 360-degree reviews is that it allows the receiver to get feedback from different perspectives. Your manager, peers and reports all work with you in different capacities. Being able to see your performance from different viewpoints provides a more complete picture. This also makes the review process less subjective, less hierarchical and more equal across the board. Having more accurate performance data allows HR, managers and employees to more easily identify strengths and skill gaps within teams.


2. Answer questions


Get your people comfortable with the change by taking questions. Even if you’ve explained why it’ll benefit them, opening the floor for questions during a Q&A session across the company, or within teams, will help dispel myths and address concerns. Some common questions employees have about 360-degree reviews are:


  • How do I give constructive feedback without hurting the other person?

  • Will there be consequences for giving feedback to my manager?

  • How should I respond to the feedback I receive?

  • Will my feedback be anonymous?

  • How will the information be used?

  • What will happen afterwards?

3. Lead by example


If giving feedback is very new to your organization, consider taking the lead by first initiating a manager review. Giving upward feedback can be intimidating. Managers should therefore explain the process to employees beforehand, address concerns and let them know their feedback is welcome.


After the review, managers should share their results. More sensitive feedback should be discussed during individual 1-on-1s, while general feedback can be communicated publicly to the team. The most important objective is that managers demonstrate that they’re open and willing to make changes based on employee feedback.  


Remember that you don’t have to take everything onboard. If you decide not to act on some of the feedback you received it’s important to explain why. For example, if an employee says they want to be given more responsibility, suggest that they take the lead on the next project. If they’re not ready for this yet, explain what skills they need to develop first and help them set goals to reach this point.


4. Start your first 360-degree review


Now you’re ready to start your first company wide review. Peers are a great source of feedback. Explain that the goal of this peer review is to help everyone better understand their strengths and areas for improvement by gathering feedback from the people they interact with most. Remind employees to answer all questions and provide as many examples as possible so that everyone can get the most out of the feedback they receive. If you would like some additional information about how to formulate great feedback, watch this two minute video.


5. Follow-up


For managers


Soon after the review it’s important to set up 1-on-1s with each individual on your team to go over the results together and answer any questions. To help your employees get the most out of the new feedback process, teach them how they can use the results to track their performance over time. Much like a fitness tracker, keeping up to date on the progress they’re making on different skills will give them benchmarks to work towards. Encourage them to come up with their own personalized development plan based on the feedback they receive.


For more info about how to give and receive 360 feedback well see here.


For HR managers


If you’re an HR manager, it’s important to follow up after your company’s first review in two ways. First, when analyzing the data you receive look out for any issues which need to be addressed. Were there any teams that gave little or overly negative feedback? Were there any managers or employees who scored particularly low in key areas such as communication and teamwork? These signs may require you to step in and follow-up with the team or individuals involved. Based on the information, devising targeted training on needed skills, such as how to give feedback or conflict management, may be necessary.


Second, create a pulse survey to see how managers and employees are feeling about the new system so far. Did managers find it hard to encourage employees to give honest feedback? Was it helpful? Did employees feel their feedback was taken on board? Based on the results you can decipher if there are any adjustments that need to be made to make the review process work for your company.

Photo by Todd Quackenbush