Difference between 360 reviews and performance reviews | HR Guide

Wondering whether to conduct a 360 feedback review or a performance review? Both bring specific benefits that can support an HR department in their employee performance management. Rather than considering whether to use one or the other, think about how you can use both options strategically. Below we will cover the key differences between the two to give you a stronger understanding of how to use them both effectively.

Feedback source in a performance review vs a 360 review

In a traditional performance appraisal, only the manager provides feedback. In contrast, within a 360 review, an employee gains feedback from a broad range of people in various positions. So, instead of gaining a deep level of insight from one person, they provide a broader range of input from many of the people an employee interacts with, from colleagues to clients.

Do not assume that feedback will always be fairer on 360 reviews. Often, a supervisor can be more objective than coworkers, as a good manager carefully keeps track of an employee’s accomplishments and progress. However, 360 reviews can give employees a broader understanding of how others perceive them by helping them identify patterns. For that reason, 360 reviews can help teams work together more smoothly.

The format used for each option

While a traditional review is not done anonymously, a 360 review typically entails partial anonymity. In our HR platform, reviewers and subjects are not able to see the responses of others, hence making the 360 reviews anonymous to them. However, Admins can see who provided which response.

Whereas a performance review involves a one-on-one meeting between a manager and employee, a 360 review gathers feedback without the employee being present. An HR manager might review the feedback with the employee afterward when sharing it.

The anonymity of a 360 review is a key benefit, as it can encourage more open feedback. It is particularly important when seeking feedback from direct reports and colleagues who may otherwise feel hesitant to be fully honest.

Purpose of a performance review and 360 review

A standard performance review often helps managers decide whether an employee should get a raise or a promotion. Many HR experts advise against using 360 feedback for that purpose, as it would promote a sense of competition among employees. Which could skew results instead of fostering a positive workplace environment.

Rather, you should use 360 feedback to provide direction for a developmental plan for the employee. Employees will feel more receptive to feedback when they know the reason for it is to encourage and support their growth.

Focus of a performance review vs a 360 review

In a performance review, a manager evaluates whether an employee has met particular goals defined at the start of the appraisal period. Both the manager and the employee know what these goals are, and will discuss in the evaluation whether they were met. In other words, a performance review focuses highly on achievements, which tend to be based on measurable data. The manager aims to look objectively at the facts to determine whether an employee has met certain goals.

In a 360 review, all participants do not necessarily understand the goals of the person they are evaluating. They are not directly stating how well certain goals or objectives were met. Rather, they are answering a broad range of questions that collectively help define an employee’s strengths and target areas for improvement.

Therefore, the scope of a 360-degree feedback review assesses skills like leadership abilities, teamwork, communication, and other soft skills that people witness daily. It provides valuable insights on how employees relate to others so they can keep growing in these ways.

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