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February 28, 2015 | Talent Management Software | Posted by Dave Rietsema

Improving Performance Management Using Software Technology and 360 Degree Reviews

In the past, annual or biannual performance reviews were the main tool used to provide feedback and manage employee performance in many industries. This approach was very limited in the way that performance was influenced, leaving managers, employees, and human resource professionals longing for a better way. With technology being infused into every aspect of human capital management more and more with each passing day, better ways to manage performance are quickly being adopted.

What is a 360 Degree Review?

One term being bandied about readily in relation to the use of technology in performance management is “360 degree review.” While this may sound futuristic and slightly intimidating, it is actually a relatively simple concept. Instead of employee performance being evaluated by a single superior or a few superiors, employee performance is evaluated based on feedback from peers, customers, numerical data, and subordinates in addition to superiors when using the 360 degree review approach.

Benefits of 360 Degree Reviews

360 degree reviews definitely make it possible to receive a broader and better rounded view of an employee, even going beyond just performance and seeing the employee as an individual. The feedback that is received using online resources may allow managers to see the whole story of an employee’s productivity and performance, rather than just what is gleaned by looking at the numbers and occasionally supervising the employee. An employee may be nervous when a manager is around, but may be highly personable with customers and great at making sales, which would be evident when reviewing customer reviews and performance data.

Avoiding Mistakes in Execution

Unfortunately, there is a dark side to using technology and 360 degree reviews for performance management and its name is ambiguity. When any part of the process is unspecific or undefined, it leaves room for errors and frustration. Whether the time frame being evaluated, the skills being assessed, or the ratings scale is ambiguous, mistakes in execution usually stem from lack of clarification.

Optimizing Performance Feedback Processes

Performance feedback processes should be simple for everyone to use and specific. Instead of using ratings scales which may be subject to bias, it may be beneficial to ask peers and customers yes or no questions in regards to an employee’s performance, leaving an area for elaboration. Making customized feedback processes available online and encouraging employees, managers, and customers to use the technology can help managers to obtain a more accurate assessment of an employee’s performance.

Changing the Focus of Employee Performance Management

A major pitfall in the focus of the old-fashioned employee review, using the review as a rating tool rather than a development tool, can be easily avoided with the help of technology in performance management. The results of a “flat” review included promotions and raises or demotions and terminations, making review time very scary and highly stressful for all involved. Feedback can now be given on a continuous basis with the help of technology, so employees’ performance can not only assessed, but developed to ready the employee for bigger and better things or to ensure the highest levels of productivity in the current position.

Founder/CEO at HR Payroll Systems. Former HR pro turned entrepreneur. Focused on simplifying HR professionals’ searches for the right technology.