360 Degree Feedback

360 degree feedback

What is 360-degree feedback?

360-degree feedback sometimes simply just called 360 feedback, is a chance for members of your team and others to reflect on an individual’s performance, it gathers feedback on an employee from a number of sources. The combined feedback can then be used as a development plan for the team member.

For this to work effectively you will need those involved to be completely open and this can make people feel vulnerable, however, allowing others to see that you are opening up and showing your vulnerability demonstrates that you want to improve yourself, something not to be feared but embraced.

360 feedback gives managers and participants clearer information about skills and performance, as well as working relationships, compared with more traditional appraisal arrangements based on just a line managers’ assessments.

It’s important that all employees receive regular, honest feedback on their performance, as they need to understand how their role contributes to the overall organisational goals and objectives and how they are performing against agreed criteria.

Who can give an employee 360-degree feedback?

The reviewers should represent different types of work relationships with the individual: they could be peers, direct line managers, more senior colleagues, or customers –so rather than just feedback from your manager you are widening the feedback to people who deal with you on a variety of levels and for different reasons. Giving a detailed picture of how you are in all aspects of your job, hence the term ’360 degree’ feedback!

It’s also best practice to choose a reviewer who has worked with the team member for six months or more. They will have a more consistent experience of the employee’s behaviour, by working with them, and seeing them in various scenarios at work.

Something to consider before starting 360-degree feedback

Before undertaking 360-degree feedback think about your company culture-there really does need to be a culture of trust and a sense of community within your organisation. Your team need to know that there can be openness and that they feel safe. 360-degree feedback may not be a place to start dependent on your culture right now, but it can be a place to aim for in the future.

Think about the types of questions that you want to ask, for example:

  • What do they do well?
  • What do you think they could improve upon?
  • How do they help the team?
  • What do you wish they did more/less of?

Feedback must be:

  • Seen as an investment in an employee through feedback from peers, direct reports, managers, leaders, and fellow teammates
  • An authentic review (not a political tool) for developing your employees and not evaluating them
  • Distributed via an anonymous online feedback form

Feedback must NOT be:

  • A tool that determines an employees’ pay, performance, or promotion.

The pros and cons of 360-degree feedback

When done effectively, the benefits of a 360 include:

  • Increased employee self-awareness
  • A balanced view of the organisation as well as the broader growth and development strategy and expectations
  • Identifying strengths and areas of development in employee skillsets  
  • Building a culture of feedback that allows for open communication
  • Ensuring successful succession planning

When done poorly, some of the downsides of 360-degree feedback include:

  • Fear of retribution or anxiety over poor working relationships in the future
  • People feeling overburdened by the workload involved
  • Lack of follow-up leading to disengagement around the effectiveness of the process

Think of the feedback as a gift that someone has given you and accept it with gratitude, your colleagues want to help you and see you grow.

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