Presenting 360 Survey Results Back to Your Employees

Apr 28, 2014


Your company’s 360 performance review’s success hinges on how you present survey results back to employees.

The American Psychological Association reported evaluations are wasted if employees are simply handed their results. There is much more work to be done to get the most out of 360 performance reviews.

The 360 degree method gives a broader, more accurate picture of the employee’s performance. In traditional performance reviews, feedback comes from only one source: a supervisor. 360 surveys, on the other hand, use multiple sources. Supervisors, subordinates, peers and customers can all be among the feedback givers.

The purpose of performance evaluations is to improve organizational performance by improving employee performance. If you are going to invest in a performance evaluation system, it only makes sense to do it right. Here are some suggestions for presenting 360 survey results, the right way.

Minimize Emotion

Whenever you deliver feedback to an employee on their performance, emotions are apt to run high. Sometimes there may even be tears or anger. It’s human nature: feedback makes people defensive. For that reason, feedback givers have to be cautious and sensitive. If the feedback is delivered in the wrong way, the consequences will go beyond discomfort. The subject of the review will not be receptive to the feedback and will not improve. The purpose of the performance evaluation will be defeated.

There is no magical method that will eliminate the emotion. There are definitely ways to reduce it, however. 360 feedback is not just coming from a single source and only from the top down. This method eliminates one reason for employee defensiveness. But receiving feedback from multiple sources is also challenging. The feedback recipient may feel overwhelmed by all of the information coming at them.

A few things you can do to reduce the sting of criticism:

  • Be constructive
  • Focus on strengths
  • Focus on action/the future
  • Create a feedback culture at the workplace

Creating a feedback culture is something you do all year round. It is something you have established prior to the particular 360 performance evaluation. It means that employee will not be surprised by the survey results because they have been receiving feedback all along.

Focusing on action and the future helps employees remember the goal of the feedback. In other words, the goal is not to make them feel bad, but to help them improve. Creating a development plan based on the survey results is necessary. Employees cannot improve without it. But it can also reduce emotion during the presentation of the survey results. The employee will not feel like a passive recipient of criticism. Instead, they will feel like a participant in their development.

Given the emotional nature of performance appraisals, managers should be trained in how to give feedback. Some companies even hire an outside expert to help employees interpret the results and coach them. Especially if it’s the first time your organization has used the 360 degree method and no one internally is familiar with it.

However you choose to do it, remember that emotions are part of any performance evaluation process. Employees will need support in order to make the process successful.

Keep it Actionable

One of the ways to keep criticism constructive is to keep it actionable. Focusing on action, or what can be done, keeps employees from feeling passive when they are receiving feedback. Reducing employees’ feelings of passivity has many positive results. Employees who feel that something can be done about the feedback will feel:

  • In control of their performance
  • Ownership of their performance
  • Engaged in the evaluation process
  • Motivated to improve

Actionable feedback keeps the focus on employees’ behaviours, not on who they are as people. Behaviours can be changed with coaching and training. If employees feel that they are being criticized as people, they will take the feedback more personally. They may also feel that there is nothing they can do to change. Making employees feel hopeless and helpless is obviously not what you want.

Employees must feel in control of their performance and hopeful about their ability to improve. Keep the emphasis on behaviours, not the person. Focus on creating an action plan for improvement.

Make It a Conversation

Another way to reduce employees’ sense of passivity and increase their engagement in the process is to make the feedback session into a conversation. In other words, use the performance evaluation as an opportunity to discuss, not just deliver, the results. Involve employees in their own development by soliciting suggestions from them as to how they can improve.

There’s another advantage to a conversational performance review. It helps with participation and motivation. It also helps with something even more basic and just as essential: communication. If you have a discussion about the employee’s 360 survey results, you can clarify the meaning of the data.

Going Forward

When presenting 360 survey results back to employees, the focus shouldn’t be on the past. This is when the behaviours that need to be coached occurred. The focus should be on the future, or the goal towards which you and the employee want to move together. This is where the action plan or development plan comes in.

When creating development plans:

  • Make the goals specific and actionable
  • Let employees know about training, coaching and mentoring resources available to them
  • Set dates

Setting dates keeps employees moving forward. It gives them a time frame within which specific goals should be accomplished. They also assure employees that you will be following up.

Presenting the results of a 360 performance evaluation does not have to be a negative experience for employees. Performance evaluations are a tool to be used for employee development.

Contact us today to set up a free demo of our software to you and we can answer any question you need.