Build a Better Performance Review

performance reviewsIntegrating feedback from multiple raters (i.e., peers, direct reports, customers) in the performance appraisal process is becoming an increasingly popular practice. Direct reports (e.g., upward feedback) and peers provide provide valuable and unique viewpoints and perspectives on performance that may not otherwise be observed by managers. Feedback from multiple raters offers managers the opportunity to build a complete picture of performance.

Unlike developmental 360 reviews where anonymous feedback is presented directly to the employee, multi-rater feedback in the performance review is often presented in an attributed fashion to the employee’s manager. Managers are presented with ratings and commentary from peers, direct reports and other colleagues, and are then expected to integrate all of the feedback in a manager summary which becomes integral to the employee’s final performance review. Building the manager summary is a critically important part of the performance appraisal process.

Feedback Overload?

While managers realize the value of having this wealth of performance data to provide more comprehensive and well-rounded feedback to their employees, the amount and diversity of feedback may not make their job easier. Without some guidance, managers may have trouble utilizing this feedback as intended. In some cases they may even be tempted to copy/paste the original author’s text into their own review -- essentially presenting the information as “he/she said….”. While it may seem logical to include specific behavioral examples of performance in a performance review, this approach can be problematic if the feedback exposes the anonymity of the person who has provided it. On the flipside, other managers may want to run interference for their direct reports by downplaying, minimizing, or leaving out the negative or controversial feedback altogether.

3 Steps to Effectively Integrate Multi-Rater Feedback into Performance Reviews

Providing direction and helpful tips to managers as they gear up for performance reviews can go a long way in ensuring that employees, managers and the organization reap the benefits of multi-rater feedback. We recommend that managers take the following three steps in analyzing and integrating peer, upward and customer feedback into the final performance review.

1.  Summarize feedback themes.

  • Consistent themes from the various feedback sources should be summarized for the employee. Find the threads that go together and integrate them with your own performance feedback.
  • Provide balanced feedback where possible. Highlight both strengths and development areas provided by those who provided feedback and compare them with your own.
  • Speak to differences in perception and how various multi-raters have different opportunities to observe your employee. Each reviewer shares his/her unique and valuable viewpoint based on the context of the interaction and different dynamics.

2. Understand feedback details.

  • Situational and behavioral examples should lend support to your ratings and offer detailed evidence that can be summarized in your written comments.
  • Make use of commentary that discusses the impact of performance and  behavior. What are the consequences of the behavior on others?
  • If feedback from multi-raters is at all unclear, it is your job to seek clarification. Check in with the source to ask questions and gain clarification prior to summarizing the data for the employee.

3. Own the feedback.

  • Avoid “he/she said” language as it diminishes the importance of the feedback. Employees must understand this as your viewpoint being supported by feedback from others.
  • User you own voice; avoid the temptation to copy/paste!
  • Don’t be afraid to communicate feedback that is negative – frame the information in a constructive and helpful manner for your employee.
  • Take ownership of the feedback; reflect on all of the multi-rater feedback and integrate this information with your own.
  • Don’t downplay or minimize certain feedback; be careful to present the information in it’s totality.
  • Disagree? If you are having trouble reconciling this feedback with your own experience with your employee, focus on how these varying perceptions are reality.

Collecting performance feedback from peers, direct reports, and even customers provides managers with information they would otherwise not have in the performance appraisal process. Managers who are well-informed by other reviewers can provide invaluable information on behaviors that the manager may never otherwise observe.

Is your company ready to integrate 360 feedback into performance review?

360 degree feedback

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