Employee Assessments

SurveyGizmo and 360 Reviews: An Essential Pairing

Linda Nicholoson
5 min read

Getting performance feedback at work activates the same region of the brain as hunger and pain. That’s according to neuroscientist David Rock. People have a deep-seated desire to know where they stand in the world, but anticipating and receiving that input can produce angst.

How can employers provide meaningful, constructive feedback without the heartburn? Join us for a 60-minute webinar to explore this vital topic. Our guest speaker, Dr. Leanne Buehler of Newmeasures, will examine the pros and cons of 360 reviews and how to get the most from your feedback collection efforts.

SurveyGizmo and 360 Reviews: An Essential Pairing

What’s the best way to get feedback in the workplace? Dr. Buehler covers the basics. Topics include how to:

  • Craft questions to yield the most useful information.
  • Deliver performance feedback in a compassionate way that leads to behavior change.
  • Deal with tough emotions that can come up when delivering or receiving feedback.
  • Support leaders through the process of administering a 360 review.

In addition, Dr. Buehler will walk through a number of best practices and tips for designing and implementing a 360 process that powerfully supports your specific business goals and employee development objectives.

In her work at Newmeasures, Dr. Buehler has used SurveyGizmo extensively to capture feedback on thousands of employees and managers. As well, she serves as an advisor to ensure SurveyGizmo has best-in-class 360 survey content and normative data.

Enjoy the brief Q&A below, where Dr. Buehler shares her insights regarding common issues and pitfalls when administering 360 reviews.

SG: Approximately what percent of organizations already utilize 360s?

Buehler: Research from Burke Incorporated suggests nearly 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies and 40 percent of midsize companies use some form of 360 survey process.

SG: Are there any patterns in who does or does not conduct 360s?

Buehler: Today, organizations of all sizes, even small start-up companies, are implementing them. A 360 review process enables business leaders to identify strengths and weaknesses at the individual, team, and departmental levels. This knowledge leads to a better ability to channel talent where it’s needed most and shore up critical skill gaps.

SG: What challenges do organizations face when implementing 360s?

Buehler: HR professionals need to be particularly wary of rater fatigue. Let’s say a manager has 20 direct reports. Asking that manager to complete 20 feedback questionnaires in a short timeframe does not make business sense. You need that person focused on your mission-critical work, not buried in a mountain of feedback requests.

A related issue is survey and report length. Do you really need 100 questions to get a complete picture? And a 25-page feedback report? Probably not. Longer instruments can lead to lower return rates. They take longer to complete, distracting reviewers from their own work. They can also lead to analysis paralysis, where leaders get caught up in examining every single rating, rather than looking for trends and themes, then moving on to how to take action.

When planning a 360, organizations need to ask, “What can we do to minimize the time spent collecting feedback and maximize our staff’s ability to focus on vital work, while still getting sufficient information to aid in employee development and strengthen our business results?”

SG: What are the biggest mistakes organizations tend to make with 360s?

Buehler:  Using 360s for decision making (promotions, raises, etc.) can have a detrimental effect on relationships and result in distorted feedback. Your workforce may clam up. When raters know a questionnaire will be used positively for professional development, they are more likely to give honest and helpful input. 

Additionally, getting feedback can be an emotional process. I’m amazed at the number of companies that deliver feedback in hurried conversations where there is not time or space to process the input. Ideally, a feedback deliverer has the ability to coach the recipient on how to move forward after receiving a difficult message.

SG: What are the top reasons for implementing a 360 process?

Buehler: A 360 process provides a current snapshot of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. It can help you identify high-potential employees; assign project work to better leverage employees’ strengths; ensure leaders are valuing both people and business results; and support a culture of continuous learning. It allows you to target your training dollars with precision.

A 360 can uncover performance issues, bullying, cross-cultural miscommunications, discrimination, and other morale-damaging issues that have been flying under the radar. You can spot where employees are unclear about or working at cross-purposes with your organization’s business objectives.

If employee engagement is a hot topic in your workplace, you can identify root causes of low engagement and the best ways to boost engagement in your specific environment.

At an individual level, 360s help you check whether your self-perception is accurate. For example, you may think you do a great job of communicating business objectives to your employees. But feedback may reveal that your employees are unclear about your expectations.

Done right, a 360 can pay for itself many times over by reducing attrition, improving productivity, yielding ideas for enhanced business processes, and much more.

“In our culture, we tend to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths. We can beat our head against the wall trying to develop things that don’t come naturally, or we can focus on leveraging the things we are best at. When we do this, we are more energized, fulfilled, and engaged in our work.”

–Leanne Buehler, Ph.D., V.P. of Consulting Services at Newmeasure

WEBINAR: Get the Most out of 360 Surveys (including best practices and pitfalls to avoid)

Interested in learning more? Listen in to our 360 Review Webinar. Hear the latest thinking and research on administering 360s, including tips for question design and handling tough emotions that can result from difficult feedback. If you can’t make the live presentation, a recording will be available shortly afterward on the same link.

Schedule: (10/26/16 1PM MST)


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