Four Trends in 360 Feedback for Spring 2022

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In the course of providing employee feedback tools for several thousand companies worldwide, we can't help but notice trends in the way our software is being used. This spring is no exception, as companies dust off their developmental feedback programs for 2022. Four of the most common areas for process improvement we're seeing are discussed here.

During the pandemic, business process improvements took a back seat to doing what was necessary to get through the day. Now that the pandemic has eased and business practices are returning to normal, we're seeing renewed interest in improving workflows, security and content related to employee feedback programs.

Streamlined Reports

The purpose of a 360 feedback or employee performance review report is to gather, consolidate and then communicate key points about an employee's behavior. Too often though, companies take a "more data is better" approach to reports that frequently overwhelms the reader. We frequently see feedback reports in excess of fifty pages that could easily be streamlined to ten or fifteen. Feedback reports, particularly static ones such as PDFs should be as short as possible. And in fact, they are being shortened. The average length of feedback report templates in our tool has reduced from approximately thirty pages from 2019-2020 to around fifteen to eighteen today. Clients are removing duplicative sections and replacing them with report components containing more condensed, concise analysis of results.

When deciding what information to include in your reports, try to put yourself in the shoes of those receiving the reports. The process of receiving feedback about one's performance understandably induces some anxiety. When we're anxious, learning is more difficult, particularly when the subject is our own strengths and weaknesses. So, keep reports to only the information that is needed to communicate important, actionable results. Start with broad data, usually at the competency-level and work toward more granular behavior-specific data toward the back of the report. Include analytical sections such as "highest and lowest" rated items or 'current versus past' to make it easy for a reader to understand where they need development most.

Additionally, take a step back and try to evaluate the appearance of your reports. Many companies settle for feedback reports that look like they were output from a mid-90s version of Excel. Reports should be attractive and easy to understand at a glance. If they're cumbersome, poorly laid out or unprofessional in appearance, employee faith in the review process may be diminished and the path to behavioral improvements impeded.

Finally, how are you securing your reports? While most companies take care to ensure that their employee feedback systems themselves are protected (data encrypted at rest and in transit and that employee access is carefully restricted) the output reports from their systems are not protected. PDFs can be encrypted and secured with passwords. Some feedback systems protect reports within them by requiring current sessions to download them.

Surveys in Multiple Languages

As the importance of centralized systems for talent management and developmental feedback increases, so does the need to deliver solutions in multiple languages across the globe. Currently, around 20 percent of our survey projects are being run in more than one language, and that number is growing. It's not uncommon for a participant in a 360 feedback program to receive ratings and commentary from coworkers whose native language is different from his or her own. What's more, we're seeing specific language needs evolve. No longer are automated translations acceptable in many situations. Companies want complete control over the content being presented to their users, which means control over language translations directly. This holds especially true for languages where regional dialects make "generic" language translations unusable. Even if your current requirements are English-only, be sure a vendor can support multiple languages for your future needs. As your program grows internationally, you can avoid a costly and time consuming vendor change by making sure up-front that your vendor supports the languages in which you do business-and can do so with your own translated review content.

The EchoSpan 360 feedback tool delivers reviews and reports in more than one hundred languages and an unlimited number of dialects. Your review content, rating scale, and review instructions are all translatable with a few clicks. Reviews can be delivered in multiple languages simultaneously, making it easy to administer projects to an international audience. Your users simply select their preferred language from a drop-down menu when they login and the tool, along with your custom review content, is translated instantly. Reports can also be customized with translated content to fit your user's language needs.

Optimized Review Forms

Have you noticed that completion rates for your employee reviews are lower than expected? One possible cause is that your review forms are simply too long. Take time to make sure that every question you ask employees to complete is unique and necessary. If you're unsure of what items are important in a review, ask the managers that are providing feedback. One good way to do this is to 'survey the survey.' Send a draft version of each review form out to people managers and ask them their opinion on the relevance of each item. More likely than not, you'll quickly understand which items are not relevant, confusing, too long or redundant. Shortening review forms also means that you're providing clearer feedback to those being reviewed when the time comes to delivery reports.

Further, make sure that your review forms match your goals. Off-the-shelf reviews are a convenient way to get started with a feedback program, but what happens when you want to customize the questions or competencies in a review to better suit your needs? If you are just getting started with 360-degree feedback, you may not foresee the need to customize your review content in the future. But, as you program develops or expands further into your organization, the need to adapt review competencies and items will inevitably come up. Many tools do not permit the use of custom review content (competencies, items and rating scales) without additional cost.

The EchoSpan tool allows clients to use their own review content, supplement their program with our professionally-written library of competencies and behaviors, or do a mixture of both. If you choose to move your existing review content into the EchoSpan tool, all it takes is a simple copy/paste to get your content setup. Furthermore, administrators can create a custom library in the tool so accessing your existing competencies and items for future reviews is effortless. All of these capabilities are standard in all editions of our tool.

Revisiting Privacy and Data Protection Promises

Consultants and coaches that deliver 360 feedback as part of their service offering to customers should pay close attention to the privacy and personal data handling policies of their feedback software vendors. For example, if even a single user of an employee feedback system is a resident of the European Union, even if they are not in the EU at the time they log into a feedback took, they must be provided protections and rights under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Unless a feedback software provider explicitly complies with GDPR, adherence cannot be assumed and penalties for non-compliance are stiff. Since the inception of GDPR many states and countries have adopted their own version of a personal data privacy law.

As a reminder, EchoSpan has always made user privacy and data security a top priority. We are a fully-compliant adherent to GDPR in the EU and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Our SOC-2 compliant data center features dedicated hardware and all data stored in them is encrypted at rest using industry-leading data security management tools. More about our commitment to the security and availability of customer data can be found here. We have never and never will sell or transfer our customers' data to anyone for any reason.

Last updated: Monday, June 6, 2022
Four Trends in 360 Feedback for Spring 2022
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