In the past few years, many companies have started to adopt measures to ensure that employees are treated more in a more equitable, transparent manner, adapting to the vocal demands of a new generation of workers.
The rise of technology has certainly played a significant role in putting pressure on employers to ensure that all are treated fairly and with respect. As such, many workplace leaders are now actively seeking ways to improve their communication with employees, and part of this includes figuring out new ways to approach giving – and receiving – feedback.
The 360 review is one way of helping leaders to bridge the gap with their employees and their peers. After all, employees are not the only ones who stand to benefit from constructive criticism. By introducing 360 degree feedback into the workplace, both leaders and employees stand to gain, as they can use review insights to develop better understanding of themselves in relation to their colleagues, customers and their working environment.
Is a 360 review really necessary?
If some leaders find themselves hesitant about asking for a 360 review, it’s important in such cases that they ask themselves why.
Some people may simply genuinely feel that there is no point to the exercise – they know all they need to know about themselves, and don’t need a roomful of other people to validate their thoughts. Others may be fearful of receiving negative reviews, choosing to avoid putting themselves in a situation where they might have to face criticism head-on. However, given that leaders are human and can certainly make mistakes too, they should prioritize learning about what these mistakes are and learn from them – for the greater benefit of their immediate team, and for the company as a whole.
Without opening themselves up to honest feedback, whether it comes from a subordinate or a peer, even the most well-intentioned leader can easily risk continuing down an ill-fated path, deaf and blind to the fact they may be alienating those around them.
Safe, anonymous communication
On the other hand, thoughtful leaders are those who embrace the idea of receiving feedback from their colleagues, subordinates and superiors alike, as the 360 review process can provide a safe, anonymous channel of communication allowing leaders to gain a deeper understanding of just how effective they are. They show enthusiasm for the process, because the sooner it a review is received, the sooner a leader can start course-correcting and tackling issues in an effective manner.
Just like any other employee, good leaders leverage their 360 degree in order to improve how they conduct business and manage their interpersonal skills. They also use review results as a way to plan for the future, setting goals that help them to better align themselves with colleagues and with company values.
If all this seems a little flaky, many leaders of businesses both large and small have discovered the value of rethinking the traditional approach to conducting reviews. This includes major tech companies like IBM, firms like Deloitte and PwC, retailers like Gap, and even General Electric.
Of course, changes only come about when reviewees actually act upon feedback. It isn’t good enough to just ask for feedback from employees. The key here truly is to actually act upon the feedback. Otherwise, asking for a review without planning to make changes is actually significantly worse than not asking for a review at all.
Ignoring feedback is a really fast way to make employees feel disregarded, and it can be damaging to energy and morale. Getting defensive or angry with colleagues over negative reviews, even if they’re anonymous, can also be quite the damper.
The case for 360 review
Without employee feedback, for instance, a leader might not have any real idea of how they are perceived in regard to their ability to manage employee time. For all they know, they might actually be making poor use of his or her employees’ skills. Yet studies have shown that leaders who actually understand and leverage their employees’ strengths tend to have a more engaged workforce that reports feeling genuinely appreciated.
By taking 360 reviews seriously and acting upon feedback, leaders can quickly identify and turn problems on their head. They can pivot their behaviour and improve their skill set based on 360 insights in order to do things like turn a poorly managed, undervalued team into just the opposite.
Leaders, just like employees, can clearly benefit from 360 degree feedback reviews. By doing away with the classic tools like suggestion boxes, it’s more than possible for even the busiest leader to make use of 360 degree reviews in order to make small (or large) changes to his or her behaviour, skills and attitude.
By taking feedback seriously, leaders can ensure that they are hearing – and acting upon – the voices of their employees and peers.