What Is 360 Degree Feedback?

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360-degree feedback – otherwise known as multi-rater feedback – is a process by which a person receives confidential and anonymous feedback about how they work typically from their manager, co-workers and direct reports (although can extend to people outside of the organisation).

The process includes both the 360-degree review questionnaire and the subsequent feedback report and, in most cases, face-to-face or telephone feedback by an external coach.

svg+xml;charset=utf What is 360 degree feedback

Definition

360 degree feedback is a feedback process where employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them. This typically includes the employee’s manager, peers, and direct reports. It may also involve feedback from external sources, such as customers and suppliers.

The term ‘360 degree’ refers to the full circle of people who interact with the employee, offering a comprehensive view of their performance. It contrasts with ‘top-down’ traditional performance reviews, which usually offer only a single perspective from the employee’s manager.

Benefits

There are several significant benefits to utilising 360 degree feedback within your organisation:

  • Enhanced Self-Awareness:
    Employees gain a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses as perceived by others. This can lead to personal and professional development.
  • Balanced Perspective:
    A more rounded view of skills and behaviours as colleagues at all levels contribute to the feedback.
  • Encourages Constructive Feedback:
    Encourages a culture where feedback is regularly shared, and because it includes positive affirmations, not just areas for improvement, it can be motivating.
  • Team Development: It can improve communication between team members, and foster a sense of accountability and teamwork.
  • Individual and Organisational Growth: It aligns individual performance with the organisation’s goals and competencies, which can aid in strategic planning and performance improvement.

How it works – in a nutshell

Implementing a 360 degree feedback system involves several key steps. Initially, it requires identification of the behaviours and skills that are most important for the success of the employees and the organisation. Feedback forms are then distributed to a group of respondents who rate the employee on these competences and generally provide comments to support their ratings.

Once all the feedback is collected, it’s compiled into a report which shows how the perceptions of different groups (like managers versus peers) compare with each other, and with the self-perception of the employee. It’s important that this data is then reviewed in a constructive manner, often with the help of a coach or mentor, to create a personalised development plan.

Implementing Tips

To ensure the effectiveness and success of a 360 degree feedback process, consider the following tips:

  • Clearly Communicate the Process: Make sure everyone understands how the feedback will be used and the benefits of the process.
  • Ensure Anonymity: Respondents must feel safe to provide honest feedback without fear of reprisal.
  • Train Participants: Provide training or information sessions to guide participants on how to give constructive feedback.
  • Focus on Development: Use feedback for development purposes, not as a tool for appraisal or disciplinary action.
  • Action Oriented: Use the feedback to create actionable goals and follow up with participants to track progress.
  • Regular Review: Make 360 feedback a regular event, not a one-off – this will help to embed the process into your organisational culture.
  • Integrate with Other Processes: Ensure that 360 degree feedback is integrated into a wider system of personal development and performance management.
  • Professional Facilitation: Especially when first implementing, seek the assistance of HR professionals or external facilitators to ensure the process is unbiased and fair.

360 degree feedback offers a valuable method for developing employees through a variety of different lenses. When done well, it not only enhances individual growth but also fosters an open culture where feedback is used constructively to empower individuals and drive organisational success.

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