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Issue: 66 - Jun 15, 2014
360-Degree Reviews: A Complete View of Employee Performance
By: Alicia A. Foss, CLSC, SPHR
Marsha L. Heinke, CPA, Inc

Performance reviews can be a practice manager’s best friend or worst nightmare, depending on the structure and implementation of the process. Receiving a performance review can be even more horrifying for the staff. Performance reviews are not meant to be faced with such dismay; they are meant to be a time of personal reflection and goal setting for you and your team.  It is a time to review the past year’s successes and challenges and create a plan for moving forward.

Many practices rely on the rating scale model of performance grading to provide the feedback of an employee’s direct supervisor to the employee; however, there is a better way to provide a comprehensive view of the employee’s contributions and performance within the practice, while maintaining positive morale.

360-degree reviews provide an opportunity for each employee to be appraised by every team member with whom he or she works, including subordinates. This method provides both positive and constructive feedback from all parties who work with the employee, creating a comprehensive analysis.  In addition, this method helps assess the areas in which the employee may excel or need improvement unbeknownst to the direct supervisor. For example, a supervisor may not see the additional assistance an employee has given throughout the year to new team members, but the new team members, who likely appreciated the help they received, now have the opportunity to do something nice for their mentor by providing a compliment on the 360-degree review.

Employees may also conduct a self-assessment prior to their scheduled review time in an effort to self-reflect on the past year. The insights of the employee about his or her own performance can open many doors to better understanding the self-esteem and self- criticism an employee faces from his or her own worst critic.

While 360-degree performance reviews help provide a lot of additional detail about an employee’s work-related behavior, one word of caution must be considered. The best and the worst scores must be handled very carefully because people will sometimes give very high scores to those they like and very low scores to those with whom they have difficulty interacting. The average scores and overall comments about the employee will likely give the most accurate picture of the employee.

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Construction of a 360-Degree Performance Review

360-degree performance reviews typically involve two types of questions: numeric, that can be answered using a 5-point scale, and written, comments that are often done in essay question format. Sample questions may include:

  1. Rate this employee on his or her leadership skills.
    1. Provide an example to support your rating.
    2. How can this employee improve his or her leadership skills?
  2. Rate this employee’s ability to communicate effectively.
  3. Provide an example to support your answer.
  4. What can this employee do to improve his or her communication skills?
  5. Technical skills
  6. Interpersonal skills
  7. Efficiency
  8. Ability to multi-task
  9. If yes, please provide an example.
  10. Rate this employee on the following:
  11. Have you experienced any difficulties in working with this individual?

Questions can also be more detailed and based upon the specific job responsibilities of the employee. For example, a receptionist review might include questions regarding phone skills and the ability to schedule appointments effectively.

While it may seem that this type of performance review will take up additional time, various methods for conducting the reviews are available, including online formats that take only minutes to complete. 360-degree performance reviews can provide great feedback and talking points to address during the review process and are more likely to provide a complete view of employee performance, and supporting future employee development planning for manager and employee discussion.

 

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