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June 2015 Management Toolbox


Pros and Cons of 360-Degree Feedback
Arguably the most common types of workplace performance reviews are those that involve only supervisors and their direct reports. However, there is another type of appraisal system that continues to gain in popularity: 360-degree feedback, in which individuals receive input about their performance from co-workers at all levels of the company, including supervisors, peers, subordinates and sometimes even external sources.

A number of benefits can be derived from the use of this type of feedback. Perhaps chief among them is the opportunity for employees to gain a more insightful, well-rounded view of their strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. When an individual is only being assessed by his or her direct manager, the outcome may not be as impactful or meaningful, and negative feedback can potentially lead to a rift in the supervisor-employee relationship. In a 360-degree feedback environment, in which performance data is often collected anonymously, feedback from a number of people may help employees discover blind spots and identify skills they need to acquire or better develop. Anonymity, however, is one of the downsides of 360-degree feedback; because employees don’t know who made particular statements, they can’t follow up to clarify and learn more about those statements. However, this type of feedback can be conducted via an open format that allows for discussion among workers.

The 360-degree feedback technique can also provide a major benefit to management. Individuals who work at the executive level sometimes have difficulty obtaining honest input from subordinates about their performance. Through anonymous 360-degree feedback, employees can provide insight about management’s performance and impact on the workforce and company as a whole. Additionally, by giving employees the opportunity to provide feedback, management is demonstrating that they care about employee input, which can lead to workers feeling increased job satisfaction and loyalty toward the company.

In order for 360-degree feedback to be successful, a number of people have to be involved in the process. While it requires considerable effort to implement this technique in the workplace, the beauty of having so many people collaborate to deliver feedback is that – when done correctly – it can foster better, more trusting relationships among co-workers. Whether a company uses anonymous assessments or an open-dialogue method, employees commit to telling each other the truth, an effort that can lead to a dynamic, high-performance working environment.

Like anything else, 360-degree feedback programs aren’t perfect. In addition to the problems that anonymity may create, a program can fail for a variety of other reasons, such as lack of buy-in by employees, vague assessment questions, failure to follow up after feedback has been given or feedback delivered as a personal attack instead of constructive criticism. But if a 360-degree feedback program is properly developed and implemented with the full support of employees, it can have a significantly positive effect on an organization.


5 Tips for Surviving Extreme Workweeks
Some weeks there is just no getting around working longer hours than usual. Maybe you’ve been tasked with storm restoration work or are facing a looming project deadline. Whatever the case, working 60 to 80 or more hours over the span of several days can really take its toll on you physically, mentally and emotionally. What can you do to minimize the effects of the extra work and maintain your sanity? Keep these suggestions in mind.

1. Prioritize and delegate. When you’re pressed for time, take a few minutes to put together a list of what you absolutely must get done, both on and off the job. If you don’t think you can accomplish everything, turn to co-workers, family and friends for help. And let those things that can wait do just that.

2. Sleep when you can. Proper rest is typically the first thing to go when you’re working long hours. If you can’t get six to eight hours of sleep each night – or day, depending on the shift you’re working – fit in catnaps when you can. It’s surprising how much even 20 minutes of sleep can do in terms of boosting your energy level and mental state.

3. Eat well and exercise. After sleep, exercise and healthy eating habits are generally the next two things to fall by the wayside when you’re short on personal time. The irony is that in addition to sleep, exercise and good nutrition are exactly what you need to keep up a rapid pace. If you know your work schedule is going to be insane, stock up on healthy foods that you can easily access. Apples, oranges, carrot sticks, peanut butter, bananas, granola and nuts like almonds and cashews stay good for a while and are easy to carry with you or stash in your office drawer. As for exercise, short, brisk walks get your heart pumping, lower stress levels and help clear your head.

4. Do something for yourself each day. Even if you can only spare 10 or 15 minutes, make time for something you enjoy. Walk to the coffee shop and grab your favorite drink. Call your kids. Watch a funny video on YouTube. You need a break from your hectic schedule and all the stress that comes with it.

5. Keep safety in mind. Work is important, but if you’re not safe and healthy, nothing else truly matters. If you’re too tired to drive, find someone to take you where you need to go. If you’re not in the right state of mind to make important decisions, whether due to high stress levels or sleep deprivation, wait until you’re thinking clearly. And if your employees are working long hours, too, make sure you are doing everything possible to help ensure their safety.


Management Toolbox

Kate Wade

Kate Wade is the managing editor of Utility Fleet Professional and Incident Prevention magazines. She has been employed by Utility Business Media Inc. since 2008.