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Employee Motivation

Motivated, engaged employees are crucial to any successful organization.

Research has found that initiatives based on organizational social support and employee development are factors that make an employee feel important in their workplace (Maurer, Mitchell, & Barbeite, 2002). By empowering employees to develop on both a personal and a professional level, they are led to feel accountable and therefore, intrinsically motivated to do their best work. 360-degree feedback is particularly beneficial in this regard because it emphasizes how the input of each individual employee contributes to the overall success of an organization.

Ellen Van Velsor, a senior fellow in research at the Center for Creative Leadership,  outlines four characteristics for an employee to be motivated by 360-degree feedback (1998):

  • It is essential that the employee is aware of what 360-degree feedback is and how the process works. This is often explained thoroughly in a detailed handout or directly by the professional administering the tests. At Vision Metrics in 2014, only 65% of customers choose to communicate the goals of 360-degree feedback before implementation. This creates a huge missed opportunity since awareness of the system encourages honesty, participation, and accountability.                                                                                                         A study called Perceived System Knowledge found that when employees thoroughly understand the purpose of the performance evaluation, their personal responses more frequently correspond to their supervisors’ ratings. When an employee does not completely understand the purpose of 360-degree feedback they tend to rate themselves more favorably, essentially defeating the purpose of a self-evaluation (Levy 2010).
  • The employee must trust that this process is both anonymous and confidential (Van Velsor, 1998). Of course, if an employee wishes, they can decide to share additional details with their supervisor. A communicative, credulous organization offers the best atmosphere as it also ensures the quality of the ratings will remain protected (Antononi, 1994). This can be explained by producing a culture that supports employees feeling comfortable sharing feedback, even if it is negative.
  • It is also essential that employees understand that the feedback is used for self-help and developmental purposes only. Any feedback that the rater provides is merely used to better the organization by empowering their employees. It must be stressed that the feedback provided is not related to pay, disciplinary actions, or related factors (Van Velsor, 1998).
  • Assuming that objectives 1,2, and 3 are met, the most important goal is getting participants to commit to a behavioral change strategy (Van Velsor, 1998). Understanding the goal of developmental change stresses that the feedback an employee shares benefits the company as a whole. Hence, motivating their honesty and support (Van Velsor, 1998). If the employee lacks motivation to change in the first place, they will not be inspired to benefit from the initiative at all.


Therefore, developing an organization with motivated employees is crucial as 360-degree feedback relies on an honest, critical evaluation. This can be encouraged through a variety of factors such as a culture of open communication, a supportive management structure, and defined goals that encourage development.



Levy, Paul E. Industrial/organizational Psychology: Understanding the Workplace. 3rd ed. New York: Worth, 2010. 113-29. Print.

Maurer, T. J., Weiss, E. M., & Barbeite, F. G. (2003). A model of involvement in work-related learning and development activity: The effects of individual, situational, motivational, and age variables. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(4), 707-724.

McCauley, C. D., Moxley, R. S., Van Velsor, E., (1998). The Handbook for Leadership Development, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 439.


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