Skip to Content

Why 360 Reviews Should Be Retired


I was recently talking to a high-level executive in a large company. He was telling me that he was in the middle of his first 360 review, and as those words came out of his mouth, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes! He was puzzled by my reaction.  

Now I am sure that these 360 reviews might do some good, but frankly I have never talked to someone in which they holistically helped the employee or the company. Have you?  

Here are some of the common results I’ve seen come from the 360 review process:  

  • Distance and coldness between co-workers and the reviewee. 
  • The eventual parting of ways of the reviewee and company within 6 months. 
  • The feeling of loneliness seeping into the reviewee’s work life.  
  • The reviewee spending time working on things where they will never actual excel.

And the negative list goes on…

What Is A 360 Review?

Let me back up a little and explain what a 360 review actually is. It’s a review process where a group of co-workers and managers provide feedback about a fellow staff member’s performance through assessments, surveys and personal interviews.  

It’s different from a typical performance review, which is held one-on-one between an employee and their direct supervisor. This type of review takes into account a variety of feedback from peers, reporting staff, customers, and anyone who interacts with an employee.

360 Review Do More Harm Than Good

If you aren’t familiar with this type of performance review, it might sound like a useful tool on the surface. However, does anyone who goes through a 360 review actually become a better employee or manager?

In all of my years of experience, I can’t recall one positive example. Employees and executives get personal improvement plans and goal charts, but does that translate into enjoying their jobs more and becoming more efficient?

Unfortunately, it’s more common that employees receive damage emotionally in the process and often end up leaving their jobs because of it.

360 Reviews Support Lazy Leadership

It is often easier for companies to pay an outside firm thousands of dollars an hour to do the “dirty work” of evaluating and managing an employee. Conversations about performance aren’t addressed in an appropriate manner throughout the year with the employee and are instead sprung on them during this stressful process.

The process allows management to distance themselves from their employees and avoid accountability and honest discourse. Instead of good soft skills and leadership development, which is an artform, ridge new processes develop. All these types of reviews lead to is a negative work environment and employees who dread the annual review process.

Hyperfocusing On Feedback From Others

While feedback from an employee’s co-workers, peers, and supervisors can be valuable, the 360 review process hyper-focuses on other people’s opinions.Talking with the employee about developing their social and soft skills and encouraging their personal development is rarely considered.

A Negative Tone

Every 360 review process I’ve seen takes a negative tone. The review focuses on what an employee is doing wrong, their weaknesses and often things they weren’t even hired to do or were aware they were expected to accomplish. 

Instead of focusing on an individual employee’s strengths and potential to grow, 360 reviews are full of emotionally damaging feedback and clichéd platitudes from management.

Invest In Your Employees, Not A Review Process

Instead of outsourcing a 360 review process, consider how you can help your employee gain and develop new skills. Instead of paying someone $2,000 an hour to tear down your employee’s confidence in their profession, imagine helping be part of that person’s positive professional journey.

Start having honest conversations with your employees concerning where they excel and where they could use help improving. Conversations around the company culture, HR processes, and promotions need to be at the top of the agenda of every leadership team’s Q1 meetings.  

A great way to invest in your employees is by hiring a coach from Veritas to help grow your upper management team and employees together.

Ready to Reach Your Potential?

Let's Get Started!