Each and every employee has their strengths and weaknesses. Even the most seemingly skilled employees in your organization have areas where they can improve. A well-executed 360 program will give managers & HR a deeper understanding of a given employee's skills/strengths as well as areas for potential improvement, in order to help the employee develop.
To make the 360 program successful, there are a few guidelines employees should follow when completing a survey:
1. Don't be afraid to mention both strengths and weaknesses. As noted above, everyone has areas they can improve in. The point of 360s is to help people get better at their job!
2. Go with your gut on rating questions. Ratings are somewhat subjective and are only meant to guide management & HR in how they help develop the employee when the review is finished. Check if your administrator has given you a rubric/rating guidelines but don't spend all day deciding if someone is a 4 or a 5.
3. When filling out a self-review, don't just arbitrarily give yourself high ratings. This is not a competition and you gain nothing because you got 'more points'. Rather, self-review ratings are helpful for management & HR to know how much direction you need. If you're not doing so great at something and you know it, there's less need to go over it with you. They can focus on the aspects of your job performance that you weren't aware you needed help in.
4. Be clear and concise. When writing responses to open-ended questions, be sure to elaborate (but don't write a book either). Too many times a participant writes only "S/he does a good job". The lack of substance makes it hard for management & HR to pinpoint any strengths (or weaknesses, on the other end of the spectrum). Give specific examples of times when you saw the reviewee go above & beyond or times when you felt they could have done something differently to produce better work.
5. Keep your comments professional and related to the person's work. Don't let your personal feelings interfere.
If you follow these basic tips, everyone will win in the end, yourself included. Knowing what you bring to the table and what you can do better at only helps to strengthen your career profile. As you provide this feedback for your colleagues, you too can expect the same benefit when it's your turn to be reviewed.