viaPeople Insight - Performance Management & Succession Planning Blog

Improve Performance Appraisals With Upward Feedback

Posted by Karen Caruso, Ph.D. on Feb 25, 2014 7:42:00 AM

Traditional performance appraisals that simply rely on manager ratings tend to focus on outcomes or individual achievements. This type of performance appraisal offers limited perspective on the wide range of performance factors that are important for leaders. The integration of upward feedback into the performance appraisal process not only helps to build a complete picture of individual leadership performance, but also offers 4 other key benefits.

upward appraisal

Accurately Assess Leadership with Upward Feedback

Leadership performance cannot be accurately assessed without input and feedback from direct reports. Direct reports provide a valuable and unique viewpoint on leadership effectiveness, different than the view offered by peers. Direct reports are the only feedback source that can accurately offer feedback on a manager’s ability to provide clear direction, motivate performance, coach for performance improvement and recognize accomplishments. Managers can reference this valuable feedback in completing a leader's performance appraisal, providing a comprehensive review of performance.

Improve Leadership Performance with Upward Feedback

Research has consistently shown that the receipt of upward appraisal results in positive behavioral change. Performance appraisals that include upward feedback are more likely to be accepted and seen as fair by leaders as compared to traditional performance appraisals, and in turn, are more likely to lead to specific development action.

Leaders typically do not receive feedback from their direct reports. This is especially true as one moves into higher levels. I have spoken with countless executives who confirm that they receive less and less feedback from others as they move up to more senior levels. Organizations can help to close this feedback gap by integrating a formal upward feedback process into employee performance appraisals. Through the use of upward appraisal, individual leaders have the increased ability to set targeted development goals and take specific actions to enhance their leadership performance.

Surface Great Leaders or Bad Bosses with Upward Feedback

When upward appraisal is used throughout the organization, HR and business unit leaders can gain new insight into the leadership skills across the business. Individual upward feedback data can make it easier for senior leaders to identify leaders with exceptional coaching and development skills. This insight can be used in making decisions on temporary assignments, job rotations and for matching individuals with mentors. Similarly, this same data can pinpoint potential leadership issues. Traditional performance appraisal tends to focus on results achieved and allows poor leaders to hide behind outcomes.

Aggregate or group level upward feedback results supply vital information on the strengths and development needs of departments, functions, or job levels.  By conducting an analysis of the aggregate upward appraisal data, organizations will have a complete picture of their strengths and development needs, leadership gaps, and specific training needs. 

Build a Feedback Culture with Upward Feedback

Upward feedback sends the message that employee feedback and the development of leaders is important and valuable. The process offers employees an opportunity to help leaders improve performance, as well as recognize a leader's skills and strengths. The importance of employee engagement and retention requires that organizations involve employees in the assessment and development of leaders. Over time, this sharing of performance feedback becomes an accepted norm. More specifically, upward feedback can provide an excellent forum for participants and their managers to talk openly about performance.

Interested in implementing Upward Feedback in your company? viaPeople's 5-Point Guide to Assessing Your Company's Readiness for 360 Degree Feedback can help you think through the details and create a plan for successful implementation.

360 degree feedback

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Topics: Performance Management, Performance Evaluation, Upward Feedback