Difficulties Continue with 360 Manager Reviews at SEC


4/23/13:  The SEC has unilaterally implemented a 360 degree review program for managers. This program differs in key respects from the program that the Union originally negotiated with the SEC in 2009. Because the Union believes that the current management-created 360 program does not have sufficient safeguards to ensure confidentiality, we recommend that employees not participate in this voluntary program.

In 2009, the Union and the SEC entered into an agreement regarding 360 reviews of managers. Under the agreement, all non-management employees were supposed to be afforded an opportunity to evaluate the performance of any managers to whom they report in the organizational hierarchy of the agency. The reviews were supposed to be reported up the management chain, thus providing a method of communicating to managers’ supervisors about the managers’ performance.

These reviews were supposed to commence in 2010. They were intended to make it possible for all bargaining unit employees to provide feedback to agency leadership which would affect positive changes in SEC employees’ job satisfaction and engagement, as well as improve employee retention. The parties also agreed that the SEC would ensure the confidentiality of employees’ reviews of their managers under the 360 program, and that the agency would not tolerate retaliation by managers in connection with the process.

Unfortunately, the SEC did not implement this program as agreed. Instead, it created a 360 degree review program that differs in critical respects from what was agreed with the Union. First, not all non-managers may submit comments under management’s 360 program. Instead, managers are allowed to select a small number of reviewers to review them. These employees are then invited by the manager to participate in the review process. Second, the reports are not provided to the managers’ supervisors. Instead, they are given to the managers themselves, and nobody else, to assist them in their “development.”

The 360 review program currently being run by the SEC is, in the opinion of the Union, not safe for SEC employees to participate in. The SEC asserts that “confidentiality is assured” if an employee participates in the program. However, due to the limited number of employees who receive a request to review each manager, and due to the fact that the manager him or herself is allowed to select these employees, it is not difficult for managers to determine who is providing criticism. In fact, the Union has received reports from a number of employees who have had their managers indicate to them that they know what their comments were.

Furthermore, these 360 reviews do not go “up the chain” to the managers’ supervisors. For that reason, if an employee does provide critical comments about a particular manager’s performance, nobody but the manager will hear them. Thus, employees are being asked to take a risk, with very little reward for doing so.

According to OHR officials on the SEC's Labor Management Forum, participation in this program is entirely voluntary. Under the circumstances, the Union recommends that employees not participate. The Union has a pending national arbitration in which it is seeking to impose the requirements that it originally negotiated. In the period before that hearing, Union officials are attempting to work out a solution with management on the SEC's Labor Management Forum, which would allow all employees to submit comments, provide additional confidentiality safeguards, and provide for the reports to be given to managers' superiors. Until we are able to get our agreement implemented, we do not feel that the current program is of much use to SEC employees, and may in fact expose them to retaliation.