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    360 Degree Feedback: A Complete Guide

    October 28, 2021

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    360 degree feedback

    Ensuring that employees receive well-structured, positive feedback is vital to ensuring that they excel at their jobs. Even the opposite is true; receiving employee input helps an organisation understand where it stands and what measures need to be taken to improve.

    Companies that implement regular employee feedback have turnover rates that are 14.9% lower than for employees who receive no feedback. (Source)

    Feedback is essential to accurately assess strengths and areas that need improvement and create an overall plan that aligns with the employee's career path and the company's growth and productivity plans.


    What is 360 Degree Feedback?

    360-degree feedback, also known as multi-rater feedback, refers to a system that collects feedback from various individuals who come into professional contact with an employee and interact with them on different levels.

    This method is designed so that various people who interact with an employee can provide their feedback, and a more accurate and holistic assessment can be made.

    The person who is the focus of the feedback is also required to rate themselves, and in doing so, a clear average comparison can be drawn.

    360-degree feedback is most commonly used as a tool to understand which areas an employee, whether it is a manager or a CEO, needs to work on developing.

    Implementing 360 Degree Feedback

    Collecting Feedback

    1. Between six to ten individuals that come into contact with the professional who is being assessed are selected. It could include managers, peers and, in some cases, even customers and suppliers.
    2. They are divided into groups, depending on what level of interaction they have with the employee.
    3. The questions are usually based on things such as their ability as a leader or their ability to communicate well. A rating system is provided so that the participants can rate the individual based on each of the required competencies.
    4. It is advisable to base the questions on tangible, observable and thus quantifiable factors.
    5. The employee whom the survey is centred around will also complete a self-evaluation survey.
    6. While the HR department could spearhead such an initiative, it could be good to use someone not part of the organisation, such as a consultant.

    Processing and Using the Feedback

    1. The feedback is provided by taking the average ratings provided from the different groups. For example, the average rating from managers on a particular question could be 8.5 out of 10.
    2. Once again, using a reliable third-party service provider may be best. The feedback helps highlight the crucial areas that the employee needs to focus on developing.
    3. This information, once collected, can be used by HR departments to create an actionable development plan for that employee.
    4. The person providing the feedback must have adequate training and knowledge. They can thus structure the feedback constructively, aiming for a specific outcome.
    5. Once the development plan has been created and implemented, a system or the right personnel must guide the employee through their development.
    6. Another round of feedback conducted after a specified duration can measure the development of that employee in the highlighted areas.


    Advantages of 360 Degree Feedback

    There are a host of benefits to implementing a 360-degree feedback system:

    • Employee development

    The feedback report acts as a tool that can set objective outcomes for the employee’s development path. Giving employees insights into the differences in how they see themselves how others see them at their job can significantly improve their self-awareness.

    This is especially effective as the realisation comes from the employee. Thus, they are more prepared to address the areas that need improvement.

    The goal is to ensure that the employee is more capable of executing their function in an organisation.

    • Larger, more varied data sample

    Manager reviews and feedback for their subordinates tend to provide a rather one-sided view. When feedback is collected from various levels of the organisation and a larger sample, the chance to get a more accurate feedback report improves.

    • Understanding the need to develop

    When a single person offers feedback, the question of perspective could arise. When multiple individuals provide the same sort of feedback, the employee in question is more likely to see the things that need changing more clearly.

    • Business values

    The 360-degree feedback system allows companies to reinforce their core values and realign an employee to develop the competencies required by their role and the company.

    When compiling, the feedback providers also get gentle reminders that the mentioned areas are organisational priorities. This should make it easier to realise the areas they need to work on. After all, it is human nature to compare oneself to the other.

    • Direct implementation of customer feedback

    Getting feedback from customers works on two levels. It helps customers see the organisation as one that values customer interaction and their happiness. On the other end, it helps employees realise that what they do impacts the customer and understand how customers see them.

    Then, via a good development plan, they can make the changes required to create a better image for the customer.

    • Method assessment

    The 360-degree feedback is a tool that prioritises the way things are done rather than the outcome of that action. Improving the way things are done, sticking to best practices increases the chances of achieving a better outcome.

    • Useful for large teams

    A single manager may not be able to manage every aspect of a large team. In fact, micromanaging could do a lot more harm than good. This system relies on many people at different levels around the worker, leaving the manager to focus on other tasks.

    It is also a good way of comparing the managers' assessment and understanding of an employee to everyone else's.

    • Transparency by providing anonymity

    Since the respondents are anonymous, they are likely to provide more honest and forthcoming feedback on the subject.

    • More open communication

    The fact that an employee knows what different people think about them allows them to communicate more freely. The feedback may provide the employee with positive feedback in areas they didn't realise they excelled at.

    • Self-reflection

    Since the subject and the respondents are given similar questions, the subject can draw out how others see them. It allows them to understand how their actions, behaviour, work ethic, and personality affects those around them and, ultimately, their work.

    • L&D

    It is a great tool that HR departments can use to create valuable learning and development programs. An employee working on their development is bound to be more beneficial to a company. When they see the results of their effort, they are likely to feel more inspired to continue developing.

    This supports an organisation's agenda to retain talent.


    Disadvantages of 360 Degree Feedback

    As is with anything, there are downsides to the 360-degree feedback method too:

    • Differing views

    Since the sample data is collected from individuals of varying competencies and skills, they may differ in how they view the subject. If the data collected varies too much, then no average can help employee development.

    • Being picked on

    While this shouldn't be the case, and even when the intentions are noble, a poorly structured feedback questionnaire may leave the employee feeling demotivated and negatively perceived.

    It is essential to balance the questionnaire to ensure that the feedback provided is constructive.

    • It is for everyone

    Leaders have to be willing to put themselves on the stage. Leaders who refuse to be assessed by their peers and subordinates, or don't take the feedback seriously, set a negative example for the rest of the organisation.

    Leaders need to focus on proving the importance of feedback by being the first to work on their development.

    • Sample size

    The 360-degree feedback system works best in organisations that have more employees. Small teams that do not engage with other individuals are unlikely to benefit from this method.

    • Types of questions

    This one is easily remediable; however, it is worth mentioning. Clear, objective questions are essential. Questions that do not address specific areas and cannot elicit an accurate response aren't helpful.

    • Tenure

    The accuracy of the report largely depends on the tenure of that employee and the people providing the feedback. You can't expect to get accurate results from a newly formed team that has never worked together before.

    • Personal views

    While the question structure plays a part here, there is the possibility that the feedback provided could come from a personal level. That can end up lacking the constructive qualities required to make the 360-degree feedback system successful.


    The 360-degree method is a sound feedback system for companies with teams that have worked together for some time and want to know how effective individuals are in their roles.

    Darwinbox is a comprehensive HRMS software that allows for comprehensive employee management. It lets one gather sound, helpful feedback from various stakeholders of the company – subordinates, peers, leadership, and even customers – with 360-degree feedback. It allows for seamless real-time feedback with a user-friendly interface, perceptive analytics, customizable and configurable questionnaires, and most of all, an Anonymity feature.

    It is recommended that this tool be used in combination with other sorts of surveys and assessment tools. The most important aspect of the 360-degree feedback system is that organizations must conduct it repeatedly and consistently.

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