Learning & Development

What is 360-Degree Feedback?

employees engaging

In relation to performance management, 360-degree feedback is a process that involves gathering feedback on employee performance from multiple sources, rather than just the employee’s line manager. These multiple sources generally include a range of other people within the business, such as colleagues and co-workers, or even people from different departments.


360-degree feedback will generally include three, or sometimes four, different angles for assessing an employee’s performance:


1. Line Manager Evaluation

2. Peer Evaluation

3. Self Evaluation

4. Direct Report Evaluation (if the employee manages other people)


360-degree feedback is a term familiar to most human resources departments, but some may know it as a different name. For example:


– Multi-Rater Feedback

– Multi-Source Feedback

– Multi-Source Assessment


Why is 360-Degree Feedback Useful?


The reason many companies opt to use 360-degree feedback for performance management purposes, is that it gives a clearer and more rounded picture of the employee’s performance. When using traditional “downward feedback” (where employees are assessed only by their line managers), many companies feel that the assessment can be biased, and does not take into account things that the direct managers might not see on a day to day basis.


It is fairly widely agreed that 360-degree feedback provides a more accurate picture of employee performance, meaning it is probably a good tool to use for performance review purposes. However, there is some debate as to whether or not 360-degree feedback actually promotes positive behavioural change.


The abstract of a 2011 study conducted by David W. Bracken and Dale S. Rose states the following:


“360-degree feedback has great promise as a method for creating both behaviour change and organisation change, yet research demonstrating results to this effect has been mixed.”


How to Perform an Effective 360-Degree Review


If you’ve decided that you want to use 360-degree reviews within your organisation, then you’ll want to make sure you’re following industry best practice.


The following nine tips, which you can find on Harvard Business Review, should help you make sure you’re doing 360-degree reviews right:


· Measure the right skills. Use empirical research to determine which competencies actually matter to your company’s performance – don’t just run headfirst into your 360-degree performance review using metrics that a senior executive thinks are a good idea.

· Explain what is happening. Make sure all participants understand what it is you are doing, and why you are doing it.

· Keep participants’ confidentiality. It is important you make a point of keeping all feedbacks confidential. If you don’t, then not only are you breaching privacy, but you’re making certain nobody will ever submit an honest review again!

· Make the survey short. Ideally, the feedback form should take no more than 20 minutes to complete.

· Look for strengths not weaknesses. Sure, you want to know of any major weaknesses that need addressing, but don’t focus the entire exercise on finding flaws – look for strengths you can maximise to improve the performance of your workforce.

· Tailor results to specific job roles. You shouldn’t be looking for the exact same scores for every single employee. For example, if you’re reviewing a customer service executive, you want them to score well on people skills. But is it really then end of the world if your I.T. specialist doesn’t score top marks on “friendliness”?

· Make the report simple. It is important that the people you assess can understand the results of the review. Keep your writing brief, create a clear action plan, and use graphical formats to present data.

· Create a comparison chart. People like to see how they measure up to others. Designing a final report that shows how people compare to those in the top X% can help elevate aspirations.

· Add a small employee survey about the management. This helps you to show your managers how their behaviour is affecting the people they are managing.

Do you use 360-degree feedback within your organisation? If so, what kind of results have you found? And do you have any best-practice tips you can share?