santa‘Tis the season for appraisals and assessments. It’s a magical time of year when all of the company’s elves are formally evaluated for their performance over the past year (or past few months – depending on the frequency of evaluations) and the jingle jangle of SMART goal setting can be heard for miles.

It is the perfect time of year for employees on the ‘Nice’ list to be rewarded for their talent and contribution to company success. It is also a time for corrective action to be taken to address any ‘Naughty’ elves who have fallen short of performance expectations. But as the elves busy to engage in a fair and consistent review process – what about the managers, the “Santas”, who are completing your assessments and reviews? What do they get to find in their stockings? And how are they graded, not just as employees, but as bosses?

It is no Holiday fable that a strong management team is the backbone of any company. “Nice” managers (the ones who are effective, productive, trustworthy, and diplomatic) should know how they’re coming off as coaches and leaders. And they should be rewarded and acknowledged for the skill sets that only their employees have a daily opportunity to see. Some of the most vital talents a manager can bring to a company aren’t always visible from the top down. Likewise, in a purely top-down review process, managerial shortcomings are often overlooked, leaving abused, confused or otherwise unsatisfied underlings with their voices unheard and these shortcomings uncorrected.

Don’t let bad Santas place a drain on year-round company productivity. This year, consider a 360 review process that lets you view employee and manager performance from multiple perspectives. A more in-depth picture is usually a clearer picture, and clear, comprehensive reviews can be especially important for higher-level positions.

If you’ve never taken a 360 approach to the review process before, where should you begin?

360 degreesFirst, set clear goals. Ideally, any effective 360 review should encourage forthrightness. This means that employees who evaluate their superiors and peers should be protected from social reprisal. An anonymous review process can help, with reports submitted directly to HR or entered into an identity protecting software program. If your system presents any obstacle to fairness, transparency or honesty, it won’t be very valuable. So begin with a clear outcome in mind and be able to recognize the kinks before you put the process into action.

Second, save time by making effective use of technology and software. Many of the glitches in 360 review plans happen as a result of wasted time as well as diplomacy impasses. When twelve people are spending an hour completing a review instead of one, that means eleven additional work hours have been diverted from regular tasks. Make the most of the time spent on 360 reviews by letting software programs like emPerform do most of the work and automatically deliver the results to the individuals or groups who need it.