Using 360° Feedback in your Library

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

May 18, 2021

Do you need a new way to evaluate library employees? Are you looking for a new way to evaluate the effectiveness of your department’s training? If you answered yes to either of these questions, 360° feedback may be your solution. 

A 360° evaluation is when feedback is gathered from the employee, the employee’s subordinates, the employee’s colleagues, and the employee’s supervisor. This holistic review helps give actionable feedback to the employee. In your libraries this could look many different ways, but the typical way 360° feedback is used is for a performance appraisal. Specifically, I have seen it used for the yearly performance review. I am actually a big fan of this and like how it opens a conversation for everyone involved. However, there are processes that need to be put in place to ensure the anonymity of reviewers is maintained, that the reviews are focused on identified skills and goals, and that themes in the reviews are examined instead of individual comments. 

Another way to use a 360° evaluation is around specific projects in order to help employees grow and meet their own professional goals. This does not tie the 360° feedback to the yearly performance review, but instead focuses on specific areas of growth the employee has identified for themselves. 

A third way to use 360° feedback is to use it as a training evaluation. Previously, I worked on a project where someone wanted to create a new evaluation to determine how individuals were applying content they learned in a course. The organization was placing increased focus on learning transfer, and wished to determine if individuals who took their courses engaged in behavioral change. After discussing the possibilities, we decided to move forward with implementing a 360° review based on the organization’s goals.

We created an evaluation that would be completed by the employee, the employee’s supervisor, and the employee’s subordinates to determine if there was behavioral change after the completion of the training. Once the feedback was gathered, we were able to sort through it and identify areas where we needed to make changes to the training based on common areas of employee weakness. 

As I mentioned, implementing 360° feedback needs to be done with intention. It should not be implemented without serious thought given to the process. If a 360° evaluation interests you, I encourage you to speak with your organization’s Human Resources Department to ensure it is implemented well. 

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri, and a frequent speaker on topics related to libraries and librarianship. Her professional interests include information literacy, educational technology, library and information science education, teacher identity, and academic development. Please read Lauren’s other posts about skills for special librarians. And take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets.

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