What is 360 Degree Feedback?

Leo Rolf

Posted 29/06/2017
by Leo Rolf

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What is 360 Degree Feedback?

360 Degree Feedback is a method of performance appraisal allowing employees to receive feedback from a variety of people who work not only in their own team, but also in the working environment around them.

This could include: 

  • Managers and other superiors
  • Direct reports and other subordinates
  • Colleagues and peers
  • Customers and suppliers, if applicable

The aim of using a form of 360 appraisal is that your staff can get a wider perspective of their performance rather than just the typical top-down feedback methods in traditional appraisals. Employees can receive feedback on their strengths and weaknesses from a variety of angles which they can use in their personal development plan.

“360 feedback is a performance appraisal process gathering feedback from sources around the employee including managers, peers and direct reports, as well as customers and suppliers.”

What does a 360 Appraisal Survey measure?

A 360 appraisal can give valuable insight into a range of measures that employees can benchmark against their self-perception. These include: 

  • Behaviours and competencies
  • Perception of others
  • Character, ability to be a team player and leadership effectiveness

Why is 360 Feedback an effective approach?

The aim of this more rounded approach is to give an employee a broader understanding of what they do well plus opportunities for improvement. This ultimately helps make performance management a more effective, more objective and fairer process.

360 reviews provide superior information about an individual’s skills, performance and working relationships with others compared to the more usual appraisal formats that are normally based on a line manager’s assessment.

Manager feedback certainly has a use in understanding areas of improvement in order to progress further in a role and perhaps push for promotion, but to truly develop, having multi source feedback appraisal from others is essential.

In large organisations, managers may not fully understand the contribution of each of the people they manage, so obtaining multiple sources of information can form a more accurate picture of performance.

  • Receiving feedback from subordinates can help to motivate that individual to address areas of weakness in terms of mentoring, training and providing support to lower-level employees.
  • Knowing how well they are doing with regards to customers and suppliers can help with their customer service skills.
  • Getting a broader overview of how other colleagues and peers perceive how an individual is performing can also help in terms of sharing ideas that work well for others.

"Great leaders and managers embrace continuous feedback and development."

Gathering 360 Feedback online

Traditionally, 360 degrees feedback was collected using paper-based questionnaires, but in recent years online feedback tools have gained prominence as they reduce time and effort, as reports can be compiled quickly with feedback gathered instantly. A well-written appraisal template also provides consistency in appraisal questions.

In addition, confidentiality and anonymity have greatly improved since the introduction of online systems, as responses can be password-protected meaning fewer people are able to read any comments made resulting in the confidence of those completing the questionnaires to answer more truthfully.

360 Degree Appraisal outcomes

To summarise, the outcome of employing a 360 feedback appraisal method is for staff to understand their strengths and weaknesses and to challenge a recipient’s self perception of their skills and performance leading to them finding the motivation to change in areas of improvement.

Results from the feedback can help identify differences between the way the individual sees themselves against how they are perceived by others, as well as the difference in the perception of different groups of respondents.

For further information

If you’re an HR or Recruitment professional looking to improve your company’s appraisal and development processes, contact us on +44 (0)203 693 2201 or email us.

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