Why should everyone's immediate supervisor be the end-all, be-all of every person's feedback and growth in the workplace? Implementing 360-degree reviews—where bosses, peers and subordinates can all chime in constructively on a person's work and potential for growth—could be just the ticket for your veterinary practice. Here are some best practices (and things to avoid) in implementing a more well-rounded approach to feedback.
Best practices in 360-degree reviews
• Surveys are anonymous and collected by a third party outside the company. But the third party can be the internet. SurveyMonkey and Google Forms are easy (and free). Here's advice on the right settings in SurveyMonkey to set up an anonymous survey.
• Results are collected and reviewed, pulling common themes out of the findings to discuss with the employee. One-off comments don't likely represent the employee’s regular performance and usually should be eliminated from the discussion.
• The employee’s growth plan is focused on two or three items that are clearly defined with tangible action items to best achieve these goals. For example: "Attend five hours of conflict management continuing education within the next six months."
• The meeting is a motivational, supportive brainstorming session, even for those with “poor” 360-degree feedback. If an employee feels unjustly "attacked" by coworkers during the process, they'll shut down and dismiss the feedback.
• Results are tailored to each individual and their role in the practice. While a manager should have strong emotional intelligence and conflict management skills, it may be more important for a technician to show an attention to detail and organizational skills.
There's the good, now for the bad ...
What to avoid in 360-degree reviews
• Don't tie an individual’s salary appraisal or annual review to the 360-degree feedback discussion. Employees will be less receptive to the feedback and an action plan if they feel that agreeing on areas for growth will negatively affect an end-of-year appraisal.
• Don't withhold information about how feedback is obtained. Be transparent about how the data is collected, who has access to pull the data and who is allowed to review the information. Only the individual’s supervisor (or supervisors) should have access.
• Review everybody, not just "employees." Employees are more likely to take feedback and work towards improvement if you've created a culture where all staff, including supervisors and owners, are reviewed. This also gives employees a voice to air development items for their superiors versus feeling like they're the only ones under the microscope.
• Don't make people spend more than 20 minutes on the survey per person reviewed. Remember, everyone has to fill out one of these for everyone else.
• Managers, simplify things and get to the point. The final report you present to the reviewee should be concise. It should include a brief summary of the data with strengths and development areas outlined, followed up with supporting comments from the survey bulleted out for the employee to review.
You're ready for 360-degree feedback! Now how do you rev up the team ... ?
How to prep staff for 360-degree reviews
• Explain how you'll get the data, what it means that it's confidential, and how the data will be used.
• Make the process of getting feedback a breeze. That likely means an online survey. Also, let people complete the reviews while on the clock. These surveys benefit the practice—you're asking them for a favor in providing honest feedback—so consider it part of their regular duties.
• Explain how to provide effective feedback. Ask survey takers to focus on others' performance as a whole, not one bad interaction a week ago. Ask that criticisms include supporting data; otherwise, recipients of the feedback may dismiss it.
• Tell everyone how to complete the survey and give a deadline for submission along with an open forum online, at meetings or in private with you for questions or concerns regarding the review process.