360-Degree Employee Feedback

Sometimes referred to as 360 degree feedback, 360 evaluations, or multi-rater assessments, 360-degree employee feedback provides a holistic view of an employee by gathering feedback from an employee’s manager, peers, and direct reports.

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The 360-degree approach to providing feedback is quite different from the traditional, top-down performance feedback that was once commonplace. 360 assessments differ in several ways:

  • Well-rounded review Traditional performance reviews involve the employee getting feedback directly from her/his manager. While a manager’s perspective is valuable, it’s inherently limited. Additionally, employees often behave and interact differently with their peers, direct reports, and manager. 360-degree feedback involves feedback from many additional sources (often including the manager), providing a well-rounded review of an employee.
  • Focused on Development While 360-degree feedback can certainly be used for formal performance appraisal, it tends to be more effective at driving lasting behavior change when focused on development. For example, employees’ peers and subordinates are less likely to provide negative or even constructive feedback if they think it will negatively impact someone’s bonus or promotion potential. This in turn leads to poor quality feedback.
  • Provide a controlled mechanism to provide objective and constructive feedback Because 360s are run through a technology platform, they provide a way for organizations to control the often nerve-wracking process of giving and receiving feedback. Participants or HR leaders can select evaluators, feedback is quantitative as well as qualitative, and results are anchored around competencies or values that are important to the company. In addition, HR leaders and organization managers have the option to receive reports shortly before participants to ensure the right flow of information.
  • Forward-looking Because 360s are often used to provide developmental feedback to employees, they tend to be more focused on future behaviors. In other words, while raters may evaluate past behaviors, the ultimate goal is not to linger on what the employee has done in the past but rather, what she/he can do to improve moving forward.
360-Degree Feedback Dashboard

The importance of 360 feedback

According to Green Peaks and Cornell’s study of corporate executives, the best predictor of individual success is self-awareness. 360-degree feedback delivers this self-awareness to individuals across an organization by addressing important knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics. Additionally, 360 reviews provide opportunities for managers, peers and direct reports to provide critical developmental feedback that they may not otherwise share. Feedback delivered from various peers, managers, and direct reports helps everyone understand their blind spots.

Although the competencies measured in a 360 review can vary across organizations, departments and job levels, common competencies include things like leadership, teamwork, communication, decision-making and collaboration. Given the continual demands of work, it is easy to get caught up in only looking at how well employees get their jobs done, instead of taking the longer term view to make sure they are developing into the most productive employee they can become. 360-degree feedback helps managers and employees look at competencies that will help develop the individual and the organization as a whole.

Additional use cases for 360-degree feedback

360 technology is not only used to conduct traditional 360s but is also used to conduct a variety of other assessments/ feedback processes. For example, many organizations use 360 technology to conduct traditional top-down assessments, self-assessments, upward feedback assessments (180s), training feedback, etc. Regardless of the specific type of assessment, it’s critical to define the ultimate goal(s) of the assessment program and design it around those specific goals.

Employee 360 Tasks Dashboard