How to Launch Effective 180 Feedback Cycles and Run Them On Auto-Pilot
Traditional feedback flows from a manager to a direct report, and that's the end of the conversation. But what if we introduced you to another feedback approach that flips the script on this archaic process?
Enter 180 feedback which puts both the reviewer and the reviewee in the driving seat.
In this innovative feedback process, performance reviews become dynamic dialogues focused on growth and development.
The reviewee becomes an active participant, sharing their self-evaluation alongside the manager's assessment. Together, they embark on a journey of shared insights, collaboration, and personal improvement.
Learn about the transformative power of 180 degree feedback and how to unlock its potential. Revolutionize how your organization can nurture talent to foster a culture of continuous learning.
↕️ What is 180 feedback?
180 feedback is a process used by organizations to gather feedback and accurately understand an individual's performance. 180 cycles involve two parties:
- The reviewee who will carry out an employee self-evaluation
- The reviewer, who is most often the reviewee's manager
Both parties participate in the evaluation process, then compare their feedback and use it to set performance goals, and develop an actionable professional development plan.
🆚 How do you differentiate between 360 and 180 degree feedback?
360 degree cycles collect insights from a wider variety of sources than the two parties involved in 180 degree cycles. 360 cycles include:
- Peers: Colleagues from the reviewee's team or an adjacent department provide feedback.
- Supervisors: Managers give traditional downward feedback to employees under their supervision.
- Direct reports: Individual contributors share upward feedback about their leaders.
- Customers and business partners: External customers and stakeholders share their experience of interacting with the reviewee.
- Self-evaluation: Reviewees take part in their feedback cycle by appraising their performance.
How is 360 feedback more effective than 180 feedback?
360 feedback takes more sources into account than 180 feedback. These insights enable organizations to interpret how their employees are viewed by everyone they interact with. It also allows them to identify potential risks or challenges requiring immediate attention.
Plus, 360 feedback creates a culture that promotes open communication and encourages collaboration and trust amongst team members.
Explore the main differences between 180 degree feedback and 360 degree feedback in this handy table.
🔁 How to run 180 feedback in your organization: The complete process
Follow these steps to set up a 180 feedback program that works for your organization.
1. Set feedback objectives
Begin by defining the purpose and goals of the 180-degree feedback process—what do you want to get out of it? For example, your goals may include:
- increasing employee engagement;
- boosting team productivity;
- closing organizational skills gaps;
- developing the next generation of leaders;
- improving teamwork and preventing siloes.
➡️ Check out our comprehensive guide on setting performance and developmental goals.
2. Choose suitable feedback tools
Example: Zavvy offers an entirely customizable platform that allows you to run 90, 180, 270, and 360 degree feedback cycles in line with your specific goals.
3. Create 180 degree feedback questions
Develop well-crafted, specific, behavior-based questions that align with your feedback objectives.
💡 Tip #1: Include a mix of open-ended and scaled questions to capture both qualitative and quantitative feedback.
- I am happy with my job performance overall in the last six months (This is a rating question where the reviewee will pick a score they believe matches their efforts)
- Name three unique strengths/skills that you developed in your current position during the last six months (This is an open-ended question that encourages the reviewee to reflect and add detail)
💡 Tip #2: Tailor questions to assess communication skills, collaboration, leadership, specific job-related competencies, and progress on performance goals.
- To what extent would you say that you meet your role expectations? (This question prompts the reviewee to check their role card and rate their competency.)
❓ Pick and choose from our extensive list of 100+ 360 feedback questions that encourage employee development.
4. Conduct the feedback sessions
At the start of the feedback session, communicate the purpose and process of the 180-degree feedback to all participants, including those giving and receiving feedback.
Encourage both the reviewer and reviewee to be comfortable and provide honest and open feedback.
Schedule appraisal interviews and allocate sufficient time for participants to engage in meaningful employee performance conversations.
5. Follow up on the feedback
Encourage reviewees to reflect on and analyze the feedback they receive.
Managers can support reviewees in identifying common themes, patterns, potential blind spots, and areas for improvement.
During a follow-up to the appraisal meeting, reviewees and their raters can work through any differences of opinion, constantly referring back to the rating guidelines and competency framework to keep the conversation fair and constructive.
This conversation results in developing action plans to drive growth and improvement.
Schedule check-in milestones between formal reviews to discuss progress.
📝 180 Feedback templates: Automated feedback cycle + free downloadable template
It's easy to launch your 180 feedback cycle with Zavvy.
We've designed a step-by-step evaluation system to get you up and running quickly.
What you need to do:
- Name your cycle.
- Customize the settings: this allows you to customize visibility depending on what you'd like your reviewer to see.
- Select reviewees: select the names of those who will participate in your feedback cycle.
- Define the timeline: the key dates for contributing (e.g. set deadlines for writing feedback, for sharing it etc.)
- Decide on automation settings: Decide how regularly to run your cycle; for example, you might set monthly 180 feedback reviews.
- Kick-off: the final step is to launch your cycle.
If you would rather use a free downloadable template, we also have you covered.
📝 Download our 180 Feedback template today.
💡 6 Best practices for running effective 180 feedback cycles
Emphasize the importance of feedback
Gaining employee buy-in is the foundation of a successful feedback program. Your employees must trust the process and understand the results that regular performance conversations deliver. Span Chen, Growth Director at Notta, told us,
"The main challenge we faced was getting employees to be comfortable and honest enough in responding, but we overcame this by educating them on the importance of having a feedback-based culture.
Additionally, we provided each team member a chance to discuss their feedback in a private one-on-one setting with their manager. In this setting, they felt more comfortable discussing any issues they had with a colleague's work performance without directly addressing the issue head-on in a group setting."
Focus on behaviors rather than personality traits
Ensure your feedback questions relate to job tasks and responsibilities rather than personality traits.
- Don't ask: "Are you a strong communicator?"
- Do ask: "Can you give an example of when you communicated effectively in a team meeting?"
This framing encourages reviewees and their managers to zoom in on specific situations and better identify growth areas.
➡️ Learn more about how to write a performance review and what you should include in our detailed guide.
Manage emotional responses
Receiving any type of feedback can feel vulnerable. It opens up opportunities for personal growth but also means admitting mistakes and addressing weaknesses. And this can surface some strong emotions. We spoke to Josh Amishav, Founder and CEO of Breachsense, who shared his experience with this,
"Implementing 180-degree feedback in our organization posed several challenges, particularly in managing emotional reactions when receiving constructive criticism.
To address this, we prioritized creating a supportive environment throughout the process. Encouraging open communication, emphasizing the purpose of feedback as a tool for development, and offering support for individuals to process and learn from the feedback were essential in managing and addressing emotional reactions.
By creating a safe space for feedback, we ensure that employees feel valued and understood, enabling them to embrace feedback positively and utilize it for personal and professional growth."
Give balanced feedback
Be sure to include both positive and constructive feedback in your review process. Each type of feedback is important in its own way.
Here's an example of how to balance both valuable feedback types:
John, I wanted to acknowledge your exceptional work on the XYZ project. Your leadership skills were evident as you effectively managed the team and delivered outstanding results. However, you tend to hesitate during team meetings before sharing your ideas. I encourage you to be more proactive in expressing your thoughts, even if they are still in the development stage. Your insights are valuable, and by sharing them earlier, we can explore new possibilities and improve our decision-making process.
Deliver feedback training
Education is integral to the success of any feedback program. To help employees and their reviewers feel comfortable and confident in their roles during feedback sessions, provide training on:
- how to give specific, objective feedback;
- the importance of providing balanced feedback;
- techniques for actively listening to each other;
- strategies for responding to feedback without getting defensive;
- how to convert feedback into actionable development goals.
"One of the main challenges we faced was ensuring that 180-degree feedback was constructive and actionable. To overcome this, we provided training to our team members on how to give and receive feedback effectively. This included emphasizing the importance of focusing on specific behaviors and actions rather than personal traits or characteristics."
🚨 Do you want to implement feedback training in your company but don't know where to start? Check out our comprehensive guide to feedback training. You'll find actionable tips, a recommended course outline, and suggested engaging activities for your training.
Commit to follow-up actions
Feedback is only meaningful if you commit to proactively addressing it. Encourage your employees to reflect on their feedback and create action plans for specific areas of improvement.
Follow-up actions might include:
- Attending regular one-on-one meetings between formal reviews to check in on the progress.
- Organizing team training or workshops to help employees develop necessary skills.
- Updating skills.
- Providing coaching and mentorship.
- Employees suggest internal opportunities they'd like to explore.
🕵️♀️ What are the potential challenges of 180 feedback, and how can you overcome them?
180 feedback isn't flawless—some common roadblocks crop up, but you can get around them with our tips.
Raters (reviewers) may have preconceived notions, personal biases, or favoritism that influence their feedback. To overcome feedback bias:
- Provide training on unconscious bias, what it looks like, and how it can infiltrate the feedback process.
- Encourage raters to focus on specific behaviors and outcomes rather than personal opinions.
Some employees may become defensive or resistant when receiving critical feedback, which can hinder the effectiveness of the feedback cycle. To address this challenge:
- Foster a culture of psychological safety where employees feel comfortable receiving feedback.
- Emphasize the developmental nature of feedback and highlight its benefits for growth and improvement.
- Encourage open and honest communication, allowing reviewees to ask questions and seek clarification without fear of negative repercussions.
Lack of clarity and actionable feedback
Vague or unclear feedback can be unhelpful when employees are striving for improvement.
To overcome this:
- Ask raters to provide concrete examples and observations to support their feedback.
- Promote a two-way feedback dialogue, allowing reviewees to seek additional input from their raters.
Different rater perspectives
The reviewee and the reviewer may have varying perspectives and interpretations, leading to a tense stand-off. To mitigate this:
- Establish clear evaluation criteria and performance expectations to guide raters.
- Encourage calibration sessions where raters discuss their assessments and align their perspectives.
- Consider switching to a 360 degree feedback cycle using multiple raters to provide a more comprehensive and balanced view of the reviewee's performance.
It's important to remember that no feedback process is perfect. Addressing these challenges requires ongoing effort, effective communication, and a commitment to creating a supportive feedback culture within the organization.
🏆 What are the benefits of 180 feedback?
180 feedback doesn't offer the same level of insights you'll receive in a 360-degree feedback cycle.
Nevertheless, it does provide some tangible benefits for the reviewee, their team, and the overall business.
Employees crave regular feedback to drive their performance and keep them on track with their career goals.
Our employee feedback statistics guide highlights:
- Employees are 4.6 times more likely to perform better if they feel their voice is heard.
- 84% of employees with high engagement levels think their efforts were recognized the last time they performed well.
- 69% of employees claim they would work harder if their efforts were actively recognized through feedback.
The beauty of 180 feedback is that the reviewee doesn't just receive managerial input; they can also provide personal insights to influence their professional journey. This is incredibly empowering and leads to high engagement.
The act of answering performance questions as part of a self-evaluation gives the reviewee a chance to reflect and self-identify areas for improvement. This can also maximize their potential in the role or organization as they become more aware of what they need to do to progress. In Harvard Business Review, Tasha Eurich describes two aspects of self-awareness:
- Internal: the ability to understand yourself
- External: the ability to understand how others perceive you
180 degree reviews enable the reviewee to develop both aspects of self-awareness by considering the feedback from peers and superiors.
More effective communication
Gathering feedback through 180 reviews can improve overall communication by encouraging open discussions and dialogue about performance. The main takeaway is that everyone should always be willing to share their thoughts, ideas, and opinions in a psychologically safe space.
In his book, "Hit Refresh," CEO Satya Nadella shared a story about the importance of communication when he joined Microsoft:
"The team I inherited was more like a group of individuals. The poet John Donne wrote, "No man is an island," but he'd feel otherwise had he joined our meetings. Each leader in the group was, in essence, the CEO of a self-sustaining business. Each lived and operated in a silo, and most had been doing so for a very long time. My portfolio had no center of gravity, and to make matters worse, many thought they should have gotten my job.
To break out of this impasse, I met with everyone on the STB leadership team individually, taking their pulse, asking questions, and listening. I began to notice a new openness to innovation and a search for creative ways to reach our customers."
180 degree feedback projects ensure that direct reports are on the same page as their manager in working towards individual and overall company goals and objectives. Goal-setting is a powerful way to drive motivation, performance, and engagement. It keeps everyone focused on the most important tasks and their desired outcomes.
BiWorldwide's New Rules of Engagement survey found that employees who set goals are:
- 6.5x more likely to say their job allows them to master needed skills.
- 7.7x more likely to confirm their employer offers development opportunities.
Better insights into employee performance
180 degree cycles incorporate self-evaluations that are missing from traditional downward feedback loops. These add extra context that can:
- Uncover hidden insights that are not immediately visible in the day-to-day operations.
- Provide a more accurate picture of an employee's true performance.
- Enable organizations to improve employee performance and maximize their talent investment.
Enhanced employee engagement
Engagement and feedback are inextricably linked. Countless studies tell us that employee engagement soars when companies invest in feedback cycles.
For example, Bonusly data confirms that:
- 94.7% of highly engaged employees believe their employer takes their feedback seriously.
- 84% of employees with high engagement levels feel their efforts were recognized the last time they performed well.
- 88.5% of highly engaged employees expect to remain with their current employer for two or more years.
➡️ Create 180 feedback cycles with Zavvy in just a few clicks
Zavvy offers intuitive 360 feedback software that fits your organization like a glove.
Whether you want to collect upward, downward, or multi-source feedback to support your employees and encourage their growth and development, building and launching a tailored feedback cycle for your people has never been easier.
Our software is perfect for:
- performance reviews;
- development talks and check-ins;
- (remote) engagement surveys;
- recurring 1:1 check-ins;
- leadership development surveys;
- and much, much more.
📅 Ready to learn how to create your first feedback cycle in minutes? Take Zavvy for a test drive by booking a free demo today.