Performance Management

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How to run effective 360 reviews (with free 360 review template)

How to run effective 360 reviews (with free 360 review template)

360 reviews are increasingly popular in the workplace, and with good reason. Done right, they improve performance management processes and can positively impact company culture. But research into the feedback process and best practice takes time, and that’s not something anyone working in People and Operations has to spare.

As part of developing Charlie’s automated 360 review feature, we extensively researched existing 360 degree feedback examples, methods and tools, especially in the context of small businesses wanting to improve their performance management processes. We’ve collated that into this blog so you have everything you need to implement 360 reviews, simply and effectively.

Use it as a step-by-step guide to successfully introduce 360 reviews into your own HR processes, and to ensure buy-in from your boss and the wider team.

If you already know why you want to carry out 360 reviews, you can skip straight to the 360 Review Template. Our free 360 degree feedback template contains example 360 review questions that you can use as they are, or tweak to better reflect your company’s goals and values.

Click here to download our 360 review template

If you want to learn more about the 360 review process first, read on and download the free 360 performance review template later on.

What is a 360 degree review template?

Also known as peer feedback, 360 reviews differ from traditional performance reviews because employees receive feedback from the people they work alongside, not just from their line managers.

With 360 reviews, feedback can come from colleagues in the same team or other departments, and from direct reports to their managers.

What is a 360 degree review?

A 360-degree review is part of an overall performance review process and give employees the opportunity to get feedback from their peers, and not just from their managers.

The main difference with traditional performance reviews is that they’ll include an extra step on top of the general conversation led by managers with their direct reports.

In practice, that means:

  • Team members receive feedback from their line managers (as normal) but also from their peers.
  • Managers take all this feedback into account when making decisions around promotions and pay rise.

Why do a 360 review?

Done right, 360 reviews improve performance management processes and promote employee’s personal development.

Line managers can’t possibly see their reports’ performance in entirety, so even the most thorough of traditional reviews will be skewed because of this. Seeking feedback from different perspectives through 360 feedback provides a more rounded overview of your employees’ performance, and highlights potentially otherwise unrecognised or unseen areas for development.

Widening the performance review process like this means that individuals get a more complete picture of their contribution to a company, and where they excel and where they can improve. And their line managers gain greater insight into their skills. 360-degree reviews can therefore be used as an employee development tool to offer more opportunities for your team, which in turn aids retention and employee engagement, and benefits the business as a whole.

The 360 review process is fairer, which can boost performance and morale, and promote diversity, equality and inclusion — all of which is beneficial for recruitment and retention.

360-degree reviews are fairer because employees don’t just receive performance feedback from a single source: their line manager. Opening it up so that team members also receive feedback from their peers reduces the potential for bias, and helps to ensure that everyone is treated equally.

Encouraging consistent and constructive communication in this way also leads to more collaboration and trust within your team, which typically results in better performance. So with 360 reviews, you’re creating the best kind of feedback loop.

Choosing to incorporate 360 reviews into your performance review process will establish a culture of feedback through open and regular dialogue, where all employees feel empowered to contribute. And if you get 360 reviews right, then it’s likely that you’ll simultaneously establish a high performance culture at your workplace as well.

So what’s the right way to do 360 reviews?

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How to build a 360 review template

You want to create a simple 360 review template that your team can use every time they want to collect feedback from their peers.

I’d recommend coming up with a bank of performance review questions that are a mix of open-ended questions and closed questions in order to generate both quantitative and qualitative data from your peer feedback. When collating the question bank, think direct, actionable, useful and targeted — you want to prompt for information that’s beneficial to the individual being reviewed, and to your business as a whole.

Obviously, you can add to the bank over time, but it’s advantageous to start off with a good variety of questions across several performance-related topics. This will ensure that your company’s 360 reviews run consistently from the get-go, which is essential for continuous performance management.

To make your life easier, we’ve pre-populated our 360 Review Template with a bank of questions designed to generate the right sort of answers from your own 360 reviews. This is the same 360 review template that our team at Charlie uses, and similar to the templates we offer in our performance review software.

Click here to download our 360 review template

How to write the best 360 feedback questions

There are two main things you should reflect on when it comes to writing your 360 feedback questions:

  • Who you're addressing – choose the right language and the right scope depending on who you're talking to and make sure they can provide an insightful answer
  • Remove bias as much as possible – do your best to ask neutral questions that won't influence the person you're asking
  • Focus as much as possible – avoid generic questions such as "What do you think I'm best at?" as the answers can be very long. Focus on one specific area of competence and make it business-focused.

To help you, I've also listed below the different ways that can be done:

  • By using open (qualitative) questions in your 360 review template, you’ll generate more detailed responses that aren’t limited to a yes or a no, or a number rating.
  • Closed (quantitative) questions on the other hand are great for assessing individual skills and tracking trends over time.
  • For quantitative feedback questions that befit a number rating, consider using the Likert Scale or a similar rating scale, so that respondents understand what the numbers equate to (1 through 7, for example, where 1 equals ‘Never’ and 7 equals ‘Always’).
  • You may also wish to encourage qualitative responses alongside the quantitative on some of these questions, by adding an optional, free form box that asks for an “example to explain your score”.
Illustration of a Likert scale. Click to download the template

For effective 360 reviews, it’s important not to overwhelm the team member by giving feedback, so set a standard number of questions in your 360 review template and stick to the same questionnaire company-wide.

The person seeking feedback then selects the set number of questions from the feedback survey template, say four, from the question bank for each 360 review, ensuring that there's a mix of qualitative and quantitative.

Though 360 reviews are self-led, they do not need to be carried out in isolation. Employees can work with their line managers to decide on which questions from the template are best for giving them a well-rounded perspective of their professional development needs for each 360 review. And different colleagues may require a different set of feedback questions, depending on working relationship, role or seniority.

Use our 360 review template as a starting point, but do remember you’ll need to adapt it to the needs of your team and business.

360 feedback questions examples – simply copy and paste

If you want to have the questions on hand, you can choose to download our template right here – this can come in handy if you want to send it directly to your staff and just copies our own process at CHarlie.

However, if you're just looking for inspirations, here are the kind of questions you can ask your colleagues about yourself.

For employees

Character and attitude

  • Am I able to receive feedback well and act on it?
  • Do I have a positive attitude towards work?
  • Do I reflect the company values?
  • Do I work well under pressure?

Interpersonal skills and relationships

  • Do I help create a collaborative culture?
  • Do my peers feel comfortable giving me feedback?
  • Do people often come to me for advice?
  • Do I show compassion, empathy and respect to my peers?
  • Am I able to keep my stress levels at a manageable level?
  • Can I keep my emotions in check when needed?

Day-to-day problem-solving

  • Can I spot problems before they arise?
  • Am I able to recognise mistakes and fix them?
  • Am I able to take problems head-on and find solutions to difficult problems?
  • Can I pull in the right team when I need help with issues that go outside of my competencies?
  • Do I have the confidence to take on projects I'm not familiar with?

Leadership Skills & Business Impact

  • Do I meet deadlines and work as efficiently as possible?
  • In which area of my role could I make more of an impact?
  • Am I able to take the lead on projects?
  • Do I give effective feedback to my peers?
  • Am I solution-orientated whenever an issue arises?

For managers

Character and attitude

  • Do I give people a sense of motivation?
  • Am I easy to speak to and share personal or professional issues with?
  • How could I improve my listening skills?

Interpersonal skills and relationships

  • Do I facilitate the team's ability to give each other feedback?
  • Am I able to turn projects around and unblock people in the team when they need it?

Leadership skills

  • Am I an approachable manager?
  • Do I give timely and helpful feedback?
  • Looking back, is there anything I could have done better as your manager within the past month?
  • Am I responsive to your needs and questions?
  • Do I set clear goals and do you have a strategy that makes sense?
  • Am I able to make changes along the road when we need it?

Can 360 reviews be automated?

By now you’re probably thinking that 360 reviews sound like a great idea, but also a lot of work — especially for those in People and Operations. And you’re right, if you choose to manage your 360 reviews manually then there are significant downsides:

  • They require a lot of back and forth, typically via email. And there’s always the chance those emails will be missed or overlooked;
  • Successfully submitted feedback can easily get lost in shared folders and drives;
  • There’s a big risk of sensitive information being shared indiscreetly or with the wrong people, creating unnecessary friction in the team.

The great news is that manual management of 360 reviews is not your only option. You don’t need to use clunky 360-degree feedback forms anymore: the entire 360 review process, including all cross-team communication, can be automated by performance review software like Charlie HR.

With Charlie, all you need to do is select the people you want feedback from and send the request. It takes just a few clicks.

From that point, those involved in the 360 reviews have a set period of time to submit their feedback, and the software will automatically nudge them as the end date approaches. There’s no need to chase anyone as the software does it all for you!

Screenshot of the Reviews templates in CharlieHR
Choose your own templates and run the perfect 360 review with CharlieHR. Sign up today for a 7-day free trial.

Automating the 360 review process with software like Charlie also has other big benefits:

  • It removes any need to supervise the process, because the process runs itself;
  • All peer feedback and related data is stored in the one place, rather than being scattered throughout emails, documents or notes — plus, the system automatically saves all historical data, and you can access it whenever you need;
  • It’s practically impossible for anyone to forget or ignore a feedback request, because the system sends automatic reminders as the deadline approaches.
  • People can share anonymous feedback, making it easier for people to be honest when they answer the 360 review questions

You can start as you mean to go on, and use 360 feedback tools from the get-go by taking advantage of Charlie’s free trial. Testing out the review process and the software at the same time is likely to remove all possible downsides and set you up for future success.

Maybe you also want to have a look at what's on the market with our guide on the best performance management software in the UK.

360 reviews, done right the first time

With our 360 review template, you can improve your company’s performance management processes and nurture a culture of open, constructive feedback.

And with software like Charlie, you can automate the entire 360 review process so that it’s simple and integrated — saving you time, and ensuring regular and consistent peer feedback across your whole team.

Done right, 360 reviews enhance performance and equality, aid retention, and promote better workplace conversations. Why not get started today?

And if you need to explore more options when it comes to performance management, maybe have a look at our resources:

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