360-DEGREE FEEDBACK: Definition and Ultimate Guide


360 Development, also known as 360-degree feedback, is a method for managers to gain a more complete picture of a person’s strengths and faults. Rather than a two-way interaction in which the manager reviews the employee, this broadens the viewpoint and reduces manager prejudice.

What is 360-degree Feedback?

360-degree feedback (also known as multi-source or multi-rater feedback assessment) is a method for individuals to understand their particular strengths and weaknesses by utilizing constructive feedback from those who work with them the most. It’s a development tool for individual leaders and employees; the collective feedback process’s combined insights are then used to inform an individual’s growth plan.

In this section, we will explain what 360-degree feedback is, when it should be used, and the actions you must follow to build a successful program that will help grow your team into more effective leaders.

Who May Provide 360-degree Feedback To an Employee?

360 Development is feedback from several raters. This means that it should be provided by colleagues who work directly with the individual getting the feedback. Supervisors, colleagues, direct reports, clients, and vendors are all examples.
It is also great practice to select a reviewer who has worked with the subject for at least six months. Working with them and watching them experience various scenarios at work will provide them with a more consistent view of the employee’s conduct.

Assessments differ depending on an employee’s position within the firm. Some 360-degree feedback surveys are designed for HiPOs (high-potential workers) or C-level leadership and executives, while others are designed for the grassroots level (e.g., field employees), managers or frontline leaders, or mid-level management (e.g., directors or VPs).

Why Should Only 360-degree Feedback Be Used For Development?

Many of our clients inquire about the best use case for 360-degree feedback. We think that 360-degree feedback should never be used to evaluate employee performance. We believe that feedback is a gift that helps your employees grow their talents and identify areas for improvement, as well as motivation to continue doing things that they may not have realized had a beneficial impact. It is not a performance management tool, but rather a development tool.
Feedback must include:

  • Feedback from peers, direct reports, managers, leaders, and customers is viewed as an investment in an employee.
  • An authentic review (rather than a political tool) for growing rather than evaluating your staff
  • Delivered anonymously via an online feedback form

Feedback must NOT include:

  • used for performance evaluation
  • a mechanism for determining employee compensation, performance, or advancement.

Performance Reviews vs. 360-Degree Feedback

There is still a place in the workplace for performance reviews. Whereas 360-degree feedback is a development tool, performance appraisals are a reward instrument, and they can coexist fairly peacefully. Here are the important points:

What Is a 360-Degree Feedback Assessment?

A typical 360-degree survey includes 50-75 behavior statements (questions) grouped across 10-12 competency groups. The questions are answered by an employee’s manager, direct reports, and peers based on their experience working with the person. To safeguard the confidentiality of the participants and provide anonymous feedback among the raters, the scores are averaged by the group. Only the self and manager scores are displayed separately. The data clearly indicates high and low scores, as well as disparities in perceptions of actionable behaviors between groups.

360-Degree Feedback Examples

Feedback for this review procedure can be as extensive or as brief as the person providing it wishes. A manager, for example, might provide a detailed description of goals established with the employee, progress toward those goals, and how the individual dealt with unanticipated hurdles along the way. A peer review could be as simple as a comment explaining what it’s like to work with them. A coworker, for example, could comment, “This worker is friendly and always completes their portion of the project by the deadline.”

Best Practices for Implementing a 360-Degree Feedback System

To generate an effective output, a 360-degree feedback system must be carefully planned and implemented. Here are ten best practices to remember, beginning with six basic factors and progressing to four technical principles:

#1. Engage all essential stakeholders

Obtaining buy-in from key stakeholders assures senior decision-makers support as well as engagement in the 360 process and action plans.

#2. Define success

Determine how you will measure and convey the success of the 360 programs to all key stakeholders. Success criteria could include the percentage of surveys completed within 14 days, a completed improvement plan for each employee based on 360 feedback, and, finally, behavioral change or improvement.

#3. Create urgency and reward

Because a 360 survey is not perceived as something that requires urgent attention, it is frequently put off. Setting and communicating a precise deadline for submission is an effective method to tackle this. This works effectively when completing the survey is required. Rewarding people for completing the survey, on the other hand, could be quite beneficial. This might be any tiny present that encourages others to engage.

#4. Plan for follow-ups

A 360-degree evaluation should not be viewed as a one-time affair. Individual employee motivation and official follow-up activities on 360 feedback aid in triggering and supporting the behavioral change required for success. “While 360 feedback can be useful on its own, it requires clear thinking when it comes to creating post-feedback actions, such as, How are you going to improve X?” Where can you grow Y?” says Shaun Wilde, CEO, and HR Director of Think Learning.

#5. Consider development vs. evaluation

If the purpose of the 360-degree feedback is personal development, rates should have the ability to choose their raters. In this scenario, creating a feedback culture within the organization will be critical. If performance evaluation is the goal, rates should be chosen based on how well they collaborate with the rater. The 360 should be included into the performance management system in this situation.

It is critical to clarify the objective and application of the feedback to all parties involved, as well as to provide clear rules on how the feedback will be gathered, processed, and used.

#6. Integrate goals and competencies

The 360’s ultimate purpose is to increase business performance. As a result, it is crucial to focus the evaluation on the competencies required for the individual’s employment. Superior performance in the function will arise from being highly proficient in a critical competency. As a result, organizational outcomes improve. Knowing and focusing on the competencies required to flourish in one’s work is crucial for successful 360 feedback. You can leverage your organization’s competency framework for this.

#7. Relevant content of 360-degree surveys

The questions and competencies included and evaluated in the 360-degree survey should be consistent with the organization’s values and skills. “Although it is possible to find good approximations with standardized tools,” the authors write, “the best fit comes from a custom survey.”

#8. Credible data

The survey data may be used by numerous users. These individuals include feedback recipients, feedback providers, managers, coaches, and human resources. Data should have both real and perceived credibility, which means it should be accurate and valid and be seen as such. Best practices include

  • having enough raters
  • having raters who are sufficiently familiar with the subject
  • having raters chosen by the subject (with manager approval)
  • a professional instrument that measures behaviors
  • an instrument that does not deceive the rater through randomization or reversed wording,
  • a standardized and clear rating scale, and
  • having rater training.

#8. Accountability

This entails holding the subject accountable for the feedback. Make follow-up appointments with the manager or a coach. Sharing feedback and personal goals with others, as well as linking bonuses to desired behavioral change, can help overcome an individual’s resistance to change. The direct manager might be crucial in this accountability process.

#9. Census Participation

In order for 360-degree feedback to work, everyone must participate. The disadvantage of a 360 is that it is time-consuming. Every employee demands feedback from various people, thus everyone in the firm provides feedback to multiple people. As a result, management must set clear expectations, hold itself accountable for the successful completion of feedback, and contribute to the creation of a climate of consistency and fairness for all stakeholders.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of 360-Degree Feedback


360-degree feedback offers several advantages and supporters.
According to Jack Zenger, a highly regarded global expert on organizational behavior, he has come to recognize “…the value of 360 feedback as a central part of leadership development programs. It’s a practical way to get a large group of leaders in an organization to be comfortable with receiving feedback from direct reports, peers, bosses, and other groups.
Zenger continues, “More than 85% of all Fortune 500 companies use the 360-degree feedback process as a cornerstone of their overall leadership development process. If you are not a current user, we encourage you to take a fresh look.”

Organizations that are satisfied with the 360-degree feedback component of their performance management systems recognize these beneficial process characteristics that manifest in a well-managed, well-integrated 360-degree feedback process.

#1. Improved feedback from a wider range of sources

This strategy delivers well-rounded feedback from peers, reporting staff, coworkers, and managers, which can be a significant improvement over feedback from a single individual. 360 feedback can also save managers time because it requires less effort to provide feedback as more individuals participate in the process. Employee perception is vital, and the process assists people in understanding how other employees perceive their work.

#2. Team development

Using feedback, team members can learn to operate more effectively together. (Teams have a better understanding of how team members are functioning than their managers.) Multi-rater feedback makes team members more accountable to one another since they share the awareness that they will provide feedback on each member’s performance. Communication and team development might benefit from a well-planned strategy.

#3. Personal and organizational performance development

360-degree feedback is one of the most effective strategies for determining your organization’s personal and organizational development needs. You might learn what prevents employees from working well together and how your company’s rules, processes, and methods affect employee success. The emphasis in many firms that use 360-degree feedback has shifted to finding strengths. That makes sense in terms of improving employee performance.

Organizations are no longer responsible for building the careers of their employees—if they ever were—for a variety of reasons. While the employee bears the majority of the duty, employers are accountable for creating an environment in which employees are encouraged and supported in their growth and development needs. Multi-rater feedback can offer an individual valuable information about what he or she has to do to advance in their job.

Furthermore, many employees believe that 360-degree feedback is more accurate, representative of their performance, and validating than feedback from a supervisor who rarely sees them at work. This improves the information’s utility for both professional and personal development.

#4. Reduced danger of prejudice

When feedback comes from a variety of people in different job functions, the probability of discrimination based on color, age, gender, and so on is reduced. The “horns and halo” effect, which occurs when a supervisor judges an employee’s performance based on his or her most recent interactions with the employee, is also reduced.

#5. Improved customer service:

Everyone receives vital feedback regarding the quality of their product or service, especially when feedback methods involve an internal or external customer. This feedback should assist the individual to improve the quality, dependability, promptness, and breadth of the items and services they provide to their customers.

#6. Assessment of training needs

360-degree feedback gives comprehensive information on the training needs of an organization, allowing for the planning of classes, online learning, cross-functional duties, and cross-training.

A 360-degree feedback system has some advantages. However, 360-degree feedback has a negative—even an ugly—aspect.


Detractors might submit a negative point for every positive point mentioned about 360-degree feedback systems. The disadvantage is significant because it provides a road map for what to avoid when implementing a 360-degree feedback approach.
The following are some potential issues with 360-degree feedback systems, as well as suggested solutions for each.

#1. Outstanding process expectations

360-degree feedback is not the same as a performance management system. It is just a component of the feedback and development provided by a performance management system within a business. Furthermore, system supporters may induce users to expect too much from the feedback system in their efforts to get organizational support for its deployment. Make certain that 360-degree feedback is integrated into a comprehensive performance management system and not utilized in isolation.

#2. Design flaws

Often, a 360-degree feedback process is recommended by the HR department or is shepherded in by a senior leader who learned about it at a seminar or in a book. The deployment of 360-degree feedback should follow good change management rules, just as any other planned change in a business. A cross-section of the individuals who will have to live with and use the process in your business should investigate and build it.

#3. Failure to connect the process

For a 360 feedback process to be effective, it must be linked to your organization’s overarching strategic goals. Give them feedback on their performance of the expected competencies and job obligations if you have specified competencies or full job descriptions. If the system is an add-on rather than a supporter of your organization’s essential vision and requirements, it will fail. It must serve as a barometer of your organization’s overall and long-term success.

#4. Inadequate information

Because 360-degree feedback systems are now largely anonymous, persons who receive feedback have no recourse if they want to better comprehend it. They have no one to turn to for clarification on ambiguous comments or additional information on specific ratings and their foundation. As a result, developing 360 process coaches is critical. Supervisors, HR personnel, interested managers, and others are trained to assist people in understanding their feedback and to support people in developing action plans based on the feedback.

#5. Focus on negatives and weaknesses

According to at least one book, “First Break All the Rules: What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently,” outstanding managers should concentrate on employee strengths rather than weaknesses. “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.”2 These are wise thoughts to remember when considering a 360-degree feedback process. For the best results, concentrate on your strengths.

#6. Rater inexperience and ineffectiveness

In addition to the insufficient training that businesses provide for both persons receiving and delivering feedback, there are other ways for raters to go wrong. They may exaggerate ratings in order to make an employee appear good. They may inflate ratings in order to make a person look terrible. Also, they may form an informal alliance in order to artificially boost everyone’s performance. To avoid these dangers, checks, and balances must be in place, as well as training for those who provide the ratings.

#7. Overload on paperwork and data entry

In traditional 360 assessments, multi-rater feedback increased the number of individuals involved in the process and the time invested as a result. Most multi-rater feedback systems, thankfully, now have online entry and reporting platforms. This has nearly completely eradicated the previous disadvantage.

When implemented with care and training, 360-degree feedback is a valuable complement to your performance management system, allowing staff to better serve customers and advance their careers.


A 360-degree feedback system has a lot to offer with leadership commitment and proper planning. It can assist firms in developing effective employee development plans by accurately portraying their performance and identifying difficulties that require additional attention.
With a comprehensive design, clear explanation, and conscientious implementation, you can also prevent pitfalls that frequently hinder a good 360-degree feedback program.


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