360-degree feedback reviews provide employees with
professional, anonymous feedback from the people that work
closely with them. Whereas traditional performance reviews typically only include feedback from
managers, 360-degree feedback provides a more well-rounded view of employee
behaviors by soliciting the ratings and comments of additional sources. Usually, this includes an employee's
manager, peers, direct reports. However, increasingly,
vendors, clients and other business partners are asked to
provide feedback. Today, no professional development program
is considered complete without a 360-degree feedback review.
The Structure of a 360-Degree Review
The first step in conducting a 360-degree feedback review
is the definition of the competencies and questions that
will be used to evaluate employee behaviors. With the EchoSpan
tool, project administrators can leverage the built-in
competency library to construct reviews quickly and easily.
Or, for customers that already have defined their own
competency models, our tool allows quick import and editing
capability for any outside review content.
Typically, the feedback review consists of 40-60 rated
items broken into 5-10 competency areas and is completed by
around a dozen coworkers. Though some questions may be
directed at certain respondents groups exclusively (i.e.
managers), most of the time all respondents answer the same
set of questions. Respondents are also encouraged to provide
written, qualitative feedback along with their ratings.
Their responses are kept anonymous and usually are only
shared with the person receiving the feedback. Anonymity is
usually not extended to the managerial rater since it is
considered his or her job to provide an employee feedback,
and, there usually only one of them for each feedback
recipient. A self-evaluation is also commonly included in
the feedback process with the self-evaluator answering the
same questions about his or her performance as the other
Selection of Raters
Once review content has been defined, the next step in the process is to
identify the Raters that will be providing feedback to reviewees. Usually,
reviewees (or Targets) select their own Raters. With EchoSpan, Targets can
select their own Raters via an online portal. Those Raters can then be
automatically approved for feedback, or, depending on the administrator's
preference, can require Raters be reviewed and approved by a supervisor prior to
If the Rater lists for Targets is already known, or self-selection of Raters
by Targets is not desired, Raters can be added to the
tool by the administrator, either using a bulk-upload from Excel, entered one at
a time, or directly inserted via a HRIS connection.
After Rater lists have been defined for each feedback recipient, the process
of providing ratings and commentary begins.
Once respondents have completed their ratings and written feedback, the
EchoSpan feedback system automatically generates a full-color,
PDF report containing aggregated results. Special features in the reports
can prevent a single respondent's ratings from being exposed, thereby protecting
anonymity of raters.
Reports are then usually delivered to Targets as part of a
developmental or debriefing conversation.
The feedback received through this process helps managers and employees
better understand areas of strength and weakness. Though traditionally used as a
professional development tool, 360-degree feedback reviews are increasingly
being used to augment or replace the traditional performance appraisal process.
However, careful steps should be taken when using a 360-degree review in place
of a performance appraisal to ensure that ratings remain fair, are not inflated
and that employees trust the system to retain their anonymity.
With the EchoSpan tool, the entire 360-degree feedback
process is conducted online using a secure and simple Web
application. Review projects can be created, deployed and
reports generated with a few clicks. To learn more about the
specific features of the EchoSpan system, please