A Preview of What’s Ahead in 2018

Our development team has been busy creating some great new features as part of version 7.66 of our 360-degree feedback tool. One addition to the tool is a new way to look at an employee’s performance over time.


We’ve added new report components that can be used in situations where clients want to compare two previous review instances and need greater detail in the results. The report shows bar graphs for the current review and a “PREV” column for the previous review. A “CHG” column shows the change between review instances along with a red downward arrow for reduced performance and a black up arrow for improved performance.

These components are available now as Beta components in all accounts (Current vs. Previous: Competencies (Beta) and Current vs. Previous: Individual Items (Beta). We encourage you to check out the new components and let us know your thoughts. Version 7.66 of our tool will be released in early 2018.



EchoSpan To Sponsor 2017 SIOP Leading Edge Consortium


EchoSpan is proud to return as the Presenting Partner for the 2017 SIOP Leading Edge Consortium. The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology’s (SIOP) 13th annual Leading Edge Consortium, “Innovations in Executive Coaching: Deepening Your Expertise in a Dynamic World,” will cover new approaches in executive coaching. Topics include coaching models and the use of technology, cross-cultural challenges, neuropsychology, and internal coaching and team coaching. The consortium will take place at the Hilton Minneapolis on October 20-21, 2017.

The multi-faceted conference will be full of top thinkers and practitioners, informative panels, and networking opportunities. For more about the consortium please visit the event website at http://www.siop.org/lec/2017/. We look forward to seeing you all there!

It’s a Good Time for 360 Reviews

As Q4 is fast approaching, many organizations are ramping up to release their 360 reviews.  The purpose of a 360-degree feedback review is to clarify areas in which an employee is excelling, as well as areas in which improvement is needed for the employee.  The multi-rater feedback results will help employees determine a development path for the coming year to ensure they are continuing to excel and grow specific skill sets.  As you evaluate 360 vendors, here are some important criteria to consider.

Ease of Implementation and Use

Setting up and managing reviews should not be time consuming for Administrators. Use a 360 feedback tool where you can easily customize competencies, items, rating scales, and workflows so the process properly fits your organization. To save yourself even more time, look for a tool that allows you to automate events in your workflow. Most of all, the tool should be intuitive for end-users so that no training is involved and response rates are higher.

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Customized Reports

The culmination of any 360-degree feedback process is the final report, making reports a critical part of the process. Reports should be attractive, flexible, easy-to-understand and accessible when you need them. Be sure that your 360 tool allows you to add your company logo to reports, personalize elements such as introductory text, page titles and fonts, and distribute and secure reports with the click of a button.

Development Planning

Development planning, while a necessary component in skill development and behavioral change, is often forgotten or only partially implemented. In order to close the loop on your 360 feedback process, it is essential that employees can create and manage development plans that are aligned with their recent 360 review. A robust development planning tool should, at a minimum: 1) Allow employees and/or managers to identify and track goals and objectives 2) Be accessible via PC, tablet, or mobile device and 3) Provide Administrators with real-time information on where their employees are focusing their development plans and which plans are leading to developmental improvement.

Take a look at what EchoSpan has to offer here:

Brief Overview Video: https://www.echospan.com/360-degree-feedback-video.asp

30-Day Free Trial: https://www.echospan.com/360-degree-feedback-trial.asp

Measuring Team Performance

Team of business people sitting together in discussion

Virtual teams, cross-functional teams, department teams, and leadership teams are all common place in modern organizations. More and more, driving team performance is as important as developing the contributions of individuals. Understanding a team’s areas of competence and developmental need is a critical component in creating high-performance work groups. This is why our 360-degree feedback system includes reporting features that combine the results of individual feedback reviews into aggregate group or team reports.

EchoSpan group reports allow you to create a PDF report containing the results of all or select individuals in your projects. Administrators can select which individuals to include in their group report and then all of the individual scores are aggregated into group scores. Administrators can also generate group reports across multiple 360 feedback projects as long as the projects contain comparable content. This is useful when individuals may be part of multiple projects and/or teams.

Best of all, group reports are customizable in the EchoSpan tool, providing you with complete control over the layout and appearance of your reports. Administrators are able to change the names of report sections, styles of charts and graphs, and create reports in over 140 different languages all within the administrative tool.

Administrators can generate group reports in any project and even filter their list of individuals by fields such as region, department, or title. Much like individual reviews, team reviews should be performed at least once a year or at certain checkpoints throughout the year like conclusion of a team project or ending of a quarter.

A few of the most common benefits of group reports are:

  • Clearly identify team strengths and areas that need development
  • Increased communication amongst the group about the group’s effectiveness
  • Ensure the team understands and is focused on common goals
  • Compare one team’s performance to others

Evaluating and analyzing team performance is no less important than individual reviews in today’s workplace. By utilizing group reports Administrators can easily identify a team’s strengths and areas where a team needs developmental resources to improve. No matter what types of teams are in your workplace, a group report can be effective in helping to increase the performance of your teams.

Create and Manage Custom Developmental Resources for 360-Degree Feedback Participants

Professional development does not begin and end with a 360-degree feedback review. At  the end of every 360-degree feedback review, a participant should have actionable takeaways or recommendations that help them improve in their career. By using a  Development Planning tool or providing participants with customized reading materials, you can give participants the tools they need to make changes.


Perhaps your company has resources available for those struggling in certain areas or maybe you are a consultant who has developed your own development framework. The Developmental Resource Editor in the EchoSpan tool lets you input your own resources to create your own dynamic reading recommendations and/or development planning action guides for 360 feedback reports.  The reading recommendations that you add are presented to review participants as part of their final report and are shown dynamically based on review scores.

To begin using the Developmental Resource Editor, Administrators simply add articles, book descriptions, video links or any developmental resource they choose to the EchoSpan tool, associate each resource with competencies in their reviews, and we do the rest. The system will automatically recommend resources to your participants that match against their most critical areas of developmental need and there is no limit on the number of resources you can enter. Currently, the areas of developmental need are identified as the three lowest-scoring competencies.

The Development Plan and development resources also feed back into the next round of 360 reviews that participants complete. If participants are utilizing the development resources to strengthen their weaker areas, they will be able to track improvements by comparing data in a change over time report component. These components will highlight the differences in scores between a participant’s current scores and their scores the last time a review was completed.

Developmental resources can act as a guide for participants to help them understand how to use the feedback they’ve received and improve in their low scoring areas. By adding developmental resources to your participant’s 360 feedback reports, you can add value to your reports and help close the loop on the 360 process.

Basic Steps to Implement a Continuous Feedback Program

The concept of “continuous performance feedback” is becoming increasingly popular in HR. The idea is that continually providing feedback to employees on their work behaviors is a better way to keep them engaged and focused on goals instead of a regularly scheduled review. Some argue that these smaller periods of time between check points can be more effective for employee’s development. However, since continuous feedback is still an emerging trend concrete guidelines have not yet been established. Many wonder how to get started, what tools they need to use, and what the overall process looks like. Here, we outline some basic steps in implementing a continuous feedback program and how the EchoSpan tool supports these activities.

How do I get started?

If you already have a feedback process or annual performance review in place, getting started is easy. There are no strict rules around the definition of “continuous.” You can begin by simply adding one or two more check points into your process. For instance, if employees currently receive an annual review you can review them bi-yearly, quarterly, or after each project or client engagement. Eventually, your employees and managers will find what works best for them and you can adapt your new continuous process based upon that feedback. You may find that a weekly review and meeting is best for them or you might find that quarterly reviews are more realistic with employee’s and manager’s schedules. The most important thing is to start the process and then you can make adjustments from there. If you are using an agile, customizable tool like EchoSpan making changes on your own should be nearly effortless. Adjustments may include altering the length of reviews or tailoring the behavioral items to the specific project or task that the employee is working on at that point in time.

Isn’t this too many reviews?

Your employee’s and manager’s time is valuable and most will not have time to do a formal review continually. A more practical approach may be to do a formal review yearly or quarterly and then use a development planning tool that employees and managers can use together throughout the year to measure progress on goals and progress on developmental areas. The development plan will also help to create a structure around the scheduled meetings and further increase the need for consistent checkpoints. The EchoSpan tool has a built in development planner and of the clients that use it, 98.5% of them renew their subscription yearly which shows they are more committed and successful with their review process.

Do I need a special tool for this?

Since continuous feedback is a new trend in the HR industry, there are many young tools that have joined the market. However, you do not need a specialized tool to create a culture of continuous feedback in your organization. Continuous feedback is more about the feedback process that you put in place and how invested your employees and managers are in that process. Some employees dread their annual review, but many employees also do not see value in feedback that simply says, “Nice job!” on a daily basis. With the EchoSpan 360-feedback tool, you can easily clone one of your current reviews and run that review more often and create a hybrid of continuous feedback and traditional feedback. A popular, cost-effective choice among users is to use unlimited licenses and review employees as many times as they want throughout the year. At any point, managers are able to get an overview of how their employees are doing on their manager dashboards.


What about reports?

Traditional 360-feedback provides employees with scores that help identify professional strengths and development opportunities. With continuous feedback, the objective is more about constant development, but reports still have their place. Many of our clients review their employees on the same competencies multiple times throughout the year and then utilize a report component that shows scoring trends over time. By doing so, managers can see if employees are progressing or regressing in certain areas and if the feedback they have received between review periods has been effective.

The bottom line on adjusting your review process is that small changes can have big impacts. If you want to follow the trend of continuous feedback, don’t start by ditching your entire current process, but rather, make small changes to it. Once you decide on a new process test it out with a group of managers who are already heavily invested in the feedback process so they can evaluate the new process for you and help other managers adopt the new process with their employees. Listen to your employees and managers and make observations about what works in your organization and build your review process around that- your colleagues will thank you for it.

Add Detail to Ratings

Ratings in a multi-rater review typically fall within a standard range, but occasionally you find a Rater who has provided extremely high or low ratings. When managers or employees review the final report they often ask themselves, “Why?” and wonder the reason for such high or low scores. It is only natural that we all want answers.


To help find these answers, you can setup your 360-degree feedback projects to require comments based upon a maximum or minimum rating. Then, if a respondent rates an item in any competency above or below this rating, and a comment box exists in the competency, he/she will be required to provide comments before proceeding. Raters are then required to explain their reasoning for their unusually high or low rating, which can also help managers or employees understand a specific situation or reason for the rating. These additional comments can then help provide more clarity for those receiving feedback and gives them more direction while creating their development plans.

You can require comments based upon a maximum or minimum rating in your projects under the Setup menu option>> Advanced Settings>> Raters & Responses.