360-Reviews for 360-Progress

Want an easy way to improve managers’ performance? Try a 360-review. Your HR department may be happy to run the process for you — or you can do it yourself, easily and quickly.
A 360-review simply collects input from direct reports (and indirect reports, for level-2 managers and above), peers, and superiors, and aggregates it for the person being reviewed. I like to use 360-reviews for development purposes but they are obviously very helpful for formal performance reviews as well.
If you are ready to DIY, the main challenges are (1) to reach a representative sample of reports, peers, and superiors and (2) to maintain anonymity, without which direct reports in particular may not be as forthcoming as required. With that, the process is quite simple: survey the sample, summarize the results, and communicate them to the person being reviewed. (Hold firm on not revealing the authors of the comments you share — and be careful not to inadvertently advertise authorship either!) If you’d like to perform a survey for yourself, you will need a helper to run the survey and anonymize it for you. I’ve found them to be wonderful development opportunities to both surface issues you may not be aware of and also to quantify issues that seem to be a big deal but may simply come from strident critics. Repeat the process a few months later to see if progress has been achieved.
Here’s a sample 360-survey:
1. Please assess NAME on the following areas:
  • Has a strong vision for the support organization
  • Represents support positively within the company
  • Hires and promotes strong team members
  • Provides mentorship and career development opportunities
  • Delegates effectively by setting clear goals, avoiding micromanagement, and checking that results are met
  • Makes decisions appropriately, gathering enough information and making decisions in a timely manner
  • Manages customers and customer escalations positively
  • Develops and maintains strong work processes
  • Communicates clearly and effectively, in person, by phone, and in email, choosing the appropriate medium of communication
  • Is approachable and available when team members need assistance
  • Is a good team player
2. What specific strengths would you say that NAME possesses? (Name at least 2.)
3. In what specific areas would you say that NAME should develop? (Name at least 2.)
Do you use 360-reviews? Have they been helpful?