How to Make 360 Performance Feedback Less Snarky, More Helpful

Performance Evaluation Input

For supervisory staff especially, it’s helpful to get constructive feedback from other supervisors (peers), supervisees, and perhaps external contacts with which this supervisor has regular contact. Many companies try this only to abandon the activity when the feedback is less than helpful. I’ve tried various techniques to maximize the positives of peer and supervisee feedback and minimize the mean and unproductive things folks say when given the opportunity. Here’s a brief discussion.

Why use feedback to inform performance evaluations?

Looking at a front line supervisor position, feedback might be helpful in the following scenarios:

  1. If a company has strong peer-to-peer collaboration values, this feedback is essential to know how employees are performing.
  2. Supervisors with an authoritative style may be stifling supervisee ideas – how else would you know?
  3. Some supervisors cater to supervisees and are isolated from or less kind to their peers.
  4. Perhaps most of the supervisor’s contacts are outside the company and external relationship-building is highly valued.
  5. Feedback from more than one dimension can provide the best, well-rounded context for the supervisor’s performance development.


You create these questionnaires, you explain why you’re gathering feedback and you let participants know that recurring themes will be discussed with the employee for their evaluation. Sounds straightforward. Two ways for this to go wrong – one is participants are afraid to provide feedback if they question or distrust your assurances.  This is a difficult problem to overcome.  It takes a trusting, professional atmosphere.  You can begin with a pilot program and expand as employees see that the original documents are not seen by the employee.  Creating a healthy workplace culture is the topic of several individual posts on this blog.

The other is that participants go overboard detailing everything the person ever did wrong. Or, they talk about their view of the individual on a personal level. Employees may not be experienced in providing feedback. Sometimes they mistake this as an invitation to vent. Understanding professional boundaries is something employees often need support to achieve. Starting with the assumption that most employees have some useful feedback, the key is to ask only questions for which answers are helpful.

Try this

The key is to tie the question to the employee’s effect on those around them and avoid open-ended questions. You want to focus on what the employee does and not workers’ personal opinions about them.

  • “Please note areas in which you feel this individual performs well or where his or her actions contribute to your success or the success of the organization.”
  • “Please note areas in which you think this individual could make some changes in order to better contribute to yours or the organization’s success:

(c) BCSPublishing 2012 all rights reserved, revised 2016



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