Using 360 feedback in SMEs: 10 things you must do

Large corporates have long had the resources and expertise to measure and manage employee performance – and even then, those processes have not always delivered results. Just look at all the big companies who are currently, and very publicly, re-evaluating the way they monitor and measure employee performance (Deloittes and Goldman Sachs, among others).

And research has confirmed what most CEOs and HR professionals already know: the once-a-year ratings process doesn’t help with motivation or engagement.  If anything, it’s a real turn-off, for employees and their managers.

One large bank announced in May 2016 that the core element of their performance appraisal process will now be 360 Degree Feedback, that is, regular feedback to each employee from their peers and reports, as well as their managers. It’s a simple concept, but one that many SME (Small and Medium enterprises) don’t use because it can be difficult to know where to start.

 If you’re looking at using 360 feedback as a key performance and motivational tool in your SME, here are the 10 key elements for success:

  1. Keep your questionnaires and feedback forms short – this will help with the quality and quantity of the feedback.
  2. Ask simple questions – keeping the feedback questions simple, relevant and specific means better and more useful feedback data.
  3. Include line managers from the start: these guys need to be involved in a positive way. They need to see feedback as something that’s going to help them manage their teams, so tell them about your feedback plans, how you’re going to use it, and how you’re going to support them in using it.
  4. Make line managers accountable: it’s important that line managers are incentivised to have regular discussions and to ensure their teams get feedback. Evaluating managers on how effectively and often they give and use feedback is a good idea.
  5. Make feedback compulsory: people will ask for and use feedback if there is a clear benefit or requirement to do so.  Therefore you do have to make it part of the regular performance discussions with the line manager, which themselves have to happen and be documented.
  6. Rewarding employees for giving good feedback and asking for feedback, as well as demonstrating that they have taken the feedback on board, can be highly effective and motivational. Regular feedback workshops and achievement ‘badges’ should include involvement in feedback.
  7. Get the boss to ask for feedback, thank people for their feedback, and go public on how the feedback has helped her to improve – people won’t buy in if they don’t see the boss doing it.
  8. Don’t run everyone’s 360 feedback at the same time.  Use a 360 tool that’s flexible enough for everyone to use throughout the year. This will avoid people, particularly more senior people, being overwhelmed with requests for feedback at the same time.
  9. Have regular team catch ups and encourage people to share their feedback. As a team performance and development tool, feedback can be very powerful in ensuring everyone is working towards the same goals.
  10. Make feedback positive: most importantly, communicate feedback to your company and your people  as a positive thing. It’s not a tool for putting your colleagues down, or for getting relationship issues off your chest.   Therefore part of getting 360 feedback working effectively in your company will involve building a culture of constructive feedback – that’s not say that points for improvement are ignored, far from it. But the structure of the feedback should emphasise the key trends from colleague feedback, that is, observations and feedback that are consistently emerging from the feedback, not just one person’s views, or outlying opinions.

Graffiti Feedback from Track is an online tool that makes is easy to use 360 degree feedback in your company. Visit Graffiti Feedback to watch our video, and to try out Graffiti today. Or contact us for more advice and information on +44( 0) 20 7193 8609.