1. Decide what to focus on
Each review cycle should serve a specific purpose to prevent employees from feeling that the feedback process is not simply a matter of dotting i’s and crossing t’s. Moreover, HR managers and team leads should ensure that each reviewer knows what criteria their performance review will cover.
For instance, the first review you conduct during a new team member’s trial period may focus on assessing how well the employee is ramping up to their new role and discussing what they need to integrate and develop.
A senior manager’s mid-year review would likely look very different, exploring how well they guide their team through large-scale projects and meet other essential management-level competencies.
2. Choose the recurrence
According to our 2023 Workforce Trends Report, roughly four in five employees agree that performance reviews are helpful, and they want them to happen more than once or twice a year.
That’s why we recommend running quarterly reviews to regularly monitor employee work performance and track their progress toward specific objectives. This gives managers and direct reports more opportunities to identify blockers to progress and re-adjust development plans and goals when needed.
3. Determine who will participate
360° review reviews traditionally involve a:
- Self-assessment – The subject of the review provides feedback on their own perceived performance.
- Manager assessment – The reviewee’s direct supervisor can provide a clear view of their performance based on regular 1:1 check-ins and ongoing monitoring.
- Peers and direct reports – People who work with the employee should assess their teamwork skills and leadership abilities since they are often the closest to their work.
- Customers and clients: Customers and clients can provide an external view of the work the reviewee delivers.
You’ll need to carefully consider whose feedback will make the most impact and be most relevant for the employee being reviewed.
Ask yourself these questions to get more clarity about who should take part:
- Which stakeholders and teammates do employees at this level tend to interact with most? Consider coworkers and individuals like customers or suppliers who can speak to this employee’s day-to-day performance and consistency.
- Who can best address the development and growth opportunities needed at this level? Identify which colleagues and leaders have the same or similar experience as your review subject.
- What key projects or initiatives did the reviewee recently take part in? Make sure to loop in any additional stakeholders who have had the opportunity to work closely with the employee, even on one-off assignments.
4. Set a timeline for providing feedback
Make sure you give review respondents ample time to provide detailed feedback. While it usually depends on the number of participants involved, we suggest offering one to two weeks for completion so the reviewee’s colleagues and peers have enough time to reflect on their observations and gather relevant examples for every review.
🥱 Take the manual work out of 360° performance reviews
Delivering regular performance reviews shouldn’t take up all of your time on the admin side. Automate the process with Leapsome to stay on top of evaluations and get more accurate progress tracking.
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5. Draft your review questions
As you put your questionnaire together, make sure that every team member has the relevant data they need to answer the questions meaningfully. For example, if asking the question, “What is the most important development goal they should work on?” make sure respondents have access to your organization’s competency framework so that they’re assessing employees fairly based on established competencies that are used for every employee in the same or a similar role.
Here are a few example questions for 360° reviews
- What is this employee doing well that they should continue doing?
- What is the most important development goal they should work on?
- What support do they need to move forward on individual development goals?
- What support could they use to further develop in their role?
- How are they showcasing the company’s value of listening to and respecting each other?
- What are the three biggest challenges they are currently facing?
You should also include a few of these role-specific questions and define which ones are relevant to each perspective:
- For peers – Can you provide examples of situations where the individual demonstrated strong communication skills? Are there areas where communication could be improved?
- For managers – Can you share times when the individual made decisions that positively impacted team or organizational outcomes?
- For direct reports – How well does your manager communicate expectations, provide feedback, and keep you informed about team priorities?
- For project stakeholders – Can you provide examples of specific tasks or deliverables the employee completed that positively impacted the project's success?
Note that 15-20 questions is the ideal length for questionnaires to get the most meaningful feedback but avoid taking up too much of your participants’ time.
⭐ Make your feedback more constructive and actionable
Use our free download as a 360° review template and empower everyone at your workplace to give more positive, insightful input that moves your organization forward.
👉 Download the free template
6. Invite participants & communicate guidelines
Create a centralized feedback form for all reviewers so you don’t risk any assessments falling through the cracks. Remind participants that all answers are confidential, and be sure to communicate the following guidelines to keep all feedback helpful and respectful:
- Be frank but empathetic, focusing on strengths to keep feedback constructive.
- Ensure that constructive feedback is actionable, providing one or two specific steps the employee can take to improve.
- Don’t overwhelm them with too much information. Focus on key points and illustrate your evaluation with concrete examples.
- No feedback should be a surprise for the reviewee. In a culture of transparency and continuous growth, managers and supervisors should be making use of 1:1 meetings and informal check-ins to keep team members up to date on their progress, performance, and development from month to month.
7. Interpret results
This is arguably the most intimidating part for managers, but it doesn’t have to be. Platforms like Leapsome can easily summarize review data for you — and even build out the next steps based on feedback.
When you’re analyzing the results, make sure you keep these practices in mind:
- Focus on patterns and themes rather than individual comments — Identify strengths and areas for improvement across multiple reviews to paint a more holistic picture of the feedback.
- Consider the source — Remember that leaders, project stakeholders, and direct reports may have very different perspectives and frames of reference than the reviewee when delivering their criticism.
- Identify specific areas for development — These should be easy to translate into action plans so that managers and direct reports can come up with development goals during the review meeting.
8. Set up a review meeting
Manager and reviewee schedule a meeting to discuss the feedback. The focus on development should be top of mind — and that should also include reinforcing strengtThe manager and reviewee now schedule a meeting to discuss the feedback. The focus on development should be top of mind — and that should also include reinforcing strengths the reviewee already has. Unlike traditional performance reviews, 360 reviews are about growing together and focusing on the future, not pointing fingers.
Follow this meeting agenda template if it’s your first time going through review results with a direct report:
- Review feedback together — Explain the data and highlight recurring themes and patterns.
- Collaboratively identify strengths and areas for development — Prioritize focus areas based on importance, potential impact, and alignment with current company and team goals.
- Create a development plan — Determine strategies and action steps for achieving growth objectives and set SMART goals for improvement.
- Determine next steps — Agree on what to discuss in a follow-up meeting and how the employee will self-monitor progress.
💡 Interested in learning more about feedback and reviews? We’ve got you covered: Check out our free template with best-practice questions for performance reviews — including specific questions for 360 and leadership reviews — and 25 smart questions to ask in performance reviews.
And how about offering your employees even more support when it’s time for their 360° performance review? See our guide and infographic on how to write a self-assessment for your next performance review. 😉
Follow-up best practices for 360° performance appraisals
Make 360° feedback for managers an easy process
Many organizational leaders expect managers to be the champions of their feedback culture, yet they don’t set them up for success. Recent Gallup data shows that only 48% of managers agree they have the skills and training they need to excel in their work.
Many managers need more clarity around performance appraisals and professional development, which companies can provide by:
- Setting up clear guidelines and instructions for 360° evaluations — Outline the purpose behind this process and train them on how to provide actionable feedback. Make instructions centralized so they’re easily shareable amongst team members.
- Choosing an easy-to-use feedback platform — A customizable yet user-friendly platform like Leapsome enables you to create reusable review templates and automate all future 360° review feedback cycles.
- Offer training and mentorship — Give new managers opportunities to shadow team leads and department heads who have a great track record of leading performance reviews.
Monitor progress with goals and development plans
One of the best ways to empower team members to track their progress is to have direct reports schedule weekly or biweekly check-ins and 1:1 meetings with their team lead. While it’s great to keep these meeting agendas flexible, we suggest you:
- Review action steps outlined in development plans – Identify any barriers or challenges, and brainstorm solutions for moving forward.
- Adjust goals as needed – It’s important to be flexible and willing to tweak team members' objectives when priorities shift or circumstances change.
- Celebrate milestones – Managers should recognize completed goals and great work by using Leapsome’s Instant Feedback module to share public praise. Our platform also integrates with Slack and Microsoft Teams, so it’s easily visible to the rest of your company.
Run impactful 360° performance reviews & nurture your feedback culture with Leapsome
If your employees are feeling disillusioned with the traditional review process, implementing 360° performance evaluations is a great way to bring them more balance, fairness, and diverse input.
However, if you want to truly transform your feedback culture, you need a platform like Leapsome. With our Reviews module, you’ll have access to best practice templates that make it easy to set up and automate your 360° review cycle. You can also track employee performance across specific skills and competencies with our built-in development matrix.
What’s more, Leapsome Reviews is now supported by AI features, which means it’s so much faster to summarize key performance data and generate the right development goals.
An employee performance review tool like Leapsome is essential for running powerful 360° reviews and gathering actionable insights. Watch this video to see how easy it is to get started.