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Jurgen Appelo calls himself a creative networker. But sometimes he's a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, or… Dutch guy. Since 2008 Jurgen writes a popular blog at, covering the creative economy, agile management, and personal development. He is the author of the book Management 3.0, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations. And he wrote the little book How to Change the World, which describes a supermodel for change management. Jurgen is CEO of the business network Happy Melly, and co-founder of the Agile Lean Europe network and the Stoos Network. He is also a speaker who is regularly invited to talk at business seminars and conferences around the world. After studying Software Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, and earning his Master’s degree in 1994, Jurgen Appelo has busied himself starting up and leading a variety of Dutch businesses, always in the position of team leader, manager, or executive. Jurgen has experience in leading a horde of 100 software developers, development managers, project managers, business consultants, service managers, and kangaroos, some of which he hired accidentally. Nowadays he works full-time managing the Happy Melly ecosystem, developing innovative courseware, books, and other types of original content. But sometimes Jurgen puts it all aside to spend time on his ever-growing collection of science fiction and fantasy literature, which he stacks in a self-designed book case. It is 4 meters high. Jurgen lives in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) -- and in Brussels (Belgium) -- with his partner Raoul. He has two kids, and an imaginary hamster called George. Jurgen has posted 145 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

360 Degrees Dinner - Peer Evaluations At The Dinner Table

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360view Next time the HR department wants you to deliver evaluation forms of your team members, organize a 360 Degree Dinner. That's what I did with my team. And it was great.

Standard 360 degree evaluations are valuable, but somewhat cumbersome. You ask several people to give you feedback about a team member, either verbally or anonymously (via forms), and then you consolidate the results in one big evaluation. And you do this for each person in a team.

Wow, that's a lot of work...

But wait... there is a shortcut!

Invite the whole team for dinner,and tell them in advance that, before or after dinner, the team will evaluate each team member's performance, at the dinner table, face-to-face. You, as a manager or team leader, will volunteer to be the first one to be evaluated. This shows courage and respect. And it helps to loosen up the atmosphere, so that people know what to expect (and how to behave) when it's their turn to receive feedback. Plus, very important: thank every person who gives you honest, valuable, and constructive feedback. Because sometimes it's not easy to be honest. And you need to reward that.

Have one person ask everyone questions (about your performance) and let him take notes (possibly using the official HR form itself). When your evaluation is complete, continue with the next person at the table. And maybe then it's someone else's turn to take notes.

Why should you organize a 360 Degrees Dinner?

  1. It saves you time. The total amount of time you need to evaluate everyone is less than the time you need when you interview everyone separately. Our team had a 360 degree dinner last Monday. It took us 1,5 hours to evaluate four people. That's less than it usually took when I did it through personal interviews;

  2. People can discuss an issue about somebody's performance, so that it's immediately clear whether or not the majority of the team shares that particular concern. I remember bringing forward one issue about a person that wasn't recognized by any of the others. This made me realize that I had misunderstood something. Apparently, the problem was on my side;

  3. When an issue is not clear, the person who is being evaluated can ask to clarify the issue, so that he understands what the real problem is. He can press for more concrete examples of criticism that sounds a bit too abstract. Or he can respond and explain circumstances that put the issue in a whole new light. Sometimes the real problem can turn out to be a very different one;

  4. People force themselves to be fair and more understanding in a face-to-face situation. It is (too) easy to criticize someone anonymously behind her back. It is nicer and more civilized to bring something to her attention when she's present at the dinner table. Possibly fellow team members can help to carefully paint a proper picture that isn't distorted by spite or vengeance;

  5. There is a good chance that the team at the table will make sure everyone is evaluated in equal measures. Nobody is perfect, and everybody can learn more about themselves. It won't be considered fair by the team if one person gets to swallow far more feedback than another. And so the team will tend to balance the amount of criticism they provide.

Can you think of more reasons?

360dinner The 360 Degree Dinner I had this Monday with my team was one of the most fulfilling evenings I had this year. They told me things about myself that I had never realized. And I was able to better formulate some people's issues with the help of fellow team members. We were all very pleased that we could have this conversation with each other. We all shared food, pain, fun, and drinks at the same time.

Naturally, I would advise you to have a 360 Degree Dinner only when you have a team of trusting, respectful and caring team members. If team members are not capable of giving or receiving open, honest and constructive feedback then you might have another problem to solve first...

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Jurgen Appelo. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)