Learning & Development

What is 360-Degree Feedback?

employees engaging

Updated 2/6/2023

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 is a term familiar to most human resources departments, but some may know it by a different name. For example:

  • Multi-Rater Feedback
  • Multi-Source Feedback
  • Multi-Source Assessment

Who can give 360 degree feedback?

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)

What are the benefits of 360-Degree Feedback?

1. Reduces bias and discrimination

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.

2. Rounded and more accurate feedback

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.

3. Higher employee engagement

Studies have linked 360 feedback appraisal systems to higher performance and reduced turnover intention, suggesting that employees are more engaged when they receive feedback from their peers and those they manage.

4. Helps fill the gaps for remote teams

If an employee works in a hybrid or remote environment, or does not work closely alongside their line manager, it can be difficult to provide effective and honest feedback. By encouraging constructive observations from those who work closely with the employee, the feedback becomes useful, actionable and true to their performance.

What are the disadvantages of 360 feedback?

While there are plenty of benefits, there are also a number of disadvantages that are important to consider before implementing a 360 feedback review system:

  • 360 feedback needs to be a part of a wider performance management system, as it only provides data on subjective behaviours, rather than job performance or KPIs. 
  • Feedback is given from individuals who may not have been trained in ‘rating’ or giving feedback, which can lead to unhelpful results.
  • As the process is anonymous, employees cannot ask for more detail on specific points. 
  • As data is needed from a range of sources, data collection can take a large amount of time. 
  • 360 feedback may not be suitable for everyone, such as smaller companies and employees who work in very small teams.

360-Degree feedback process and best practice

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 practices.

The following nine tips, supported by the CEO and President of a leadership development consultancy, 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 feedback 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 the 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.

Implementing effective 360-degree appraisals with software

For 360 feedback to be successful, you’ll need to invest in easy-to-use performance review software which makes it quick and easy to capture and follow up on 360-degree feedback.  Businesses that nurture high-performing teams reap the benefits of productivity and effectiveness, and this is almost always supported by software that streamlines employee development.

Talk to one of our experts to find out how our HR software provides timesaving automation to streamline your performance review processes Or, if you’d like to learn more, find out how HR software helps to improve employee productivity in our blog.

Rich Newsome
By Rich Newsome Digital Content Writer

Rich is a content writer at Access PeopleHR and has a wealth of experience within the tech space, including HR software. Passionate about providing website visitors with informative and easy-to-understand content, Rich is committed to helping SMBs find the best solutions for their needs. With a flair for writing, Rich's content engages and educates readers, guiding them towards informed decisions.