Grace Smith
December 28, 2023

360 degree feedback involves input from not just an employee's manager, but from co-workers, and/or other supervisors as well.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the basics and tips to conduct an effective 360-degree feedback process. By the end of this guide, you'll understand its significance and how it removes manager bias.

Here's what we'll cover:

What is 360 Degree Feedback?

To put it simply, 360-degree feedback refers to a review process in which employees obtain input from peers, supervisors, subordinates, and occasionally even outside sources. This also covers the employees' own assessments of themselves. 360-degree feedback examines an employee's abilities and behaviors that are demonstrated in their work, in addition to their performance and competence. 

360-degree feedback is most frequently used by organizations to assist their staff in managing their work-related behaviors and skills. They are able to recognize and address strengths and limitations as a result. Thus, 360-degree feedback is a constructive growth tool that helps the organization as well as the individual. 

The Benefits of 360-Degree Feedback

#1. The report of such an analysis makes a person more aware of his strengths and weaknesses, personality, beliefs, motivation, and ability to concentrate. So it is easier for them to choose the right education. 

#2. Positive feedback from multiple sources encourages the subject to develop skills that others like.

#3. Agents, employees, trainers, and managers involved in customer service activities can improve the entire service process when customers and consumers participate in the evaluation process.  

#4. The process evaluation questionnaire consists of values ​​and behaviors that the company considers necessary for itself. Therefore, the respondents to the online form are also aware of these values. 

#5. A 360-degree people process is distributed, more authentic, and unbiased than a sole reporting manager's feedback.

Why Use 360 Degree Feedback?

The goal of 360 degree feedback is to obtain a thorough picture of your supervisor's leadership abilities. Both the organization as a whole and the individual managers stand to gain from this in terms of their professional and personal growth.

You can assist managers in understanding their own and their teams' strengths and shortcomings by conducting assessments. This enables them to grow in a deliberate manner. As a result, it also raises employee engagement and satisfaction.

What to include in 360 Degree Feedback?

360 degree feedback should include several perspectives to assess the subject properly. The subject is the person who is evaluated in a 360 feedback setting.

Organizations should typically tailor their questions for assessment needs and values.

For instance, at ThriveSparrow, we utilize our unique culture code, 'RADICAL', as a foundation to develop a set of competencies. These competencies form the basis for a thorough and accurate evaluation of employees within our 360-degree feedback system.

It's important to note that the competencies selected for assessment can vary significantly across different organizations, as well as within various departments, internal teams, and even external groups involved in the feedback process.

We'll attach a sample list of questions later in this article. Click here to jump to the list.

Who can give 360 Degree Feedback?

The 360 assessment typically consists of the Subject, Evaluator, and an Approver.

Subject: This is the person who is being evaluated for a 360 performance review. After the 360 feedback is done, the subject can view feedback and reflect to improve on his strengths and identify and fix areas of improvement.

Evaluator: Evaluators mostly include peers and other co-workers who work closely with the subject on common projects, but they can also include the subject's manager or direct report.

Approver: This person or team is responsible for setting up the 360 feedback system. They select participants, and ensure confidentiality is maintained in the survey.

However, ThriveSparrow's employee surveys are anonymous by default, and keep any and all feedback confidential.

An Approver is generally a person or a team who approves and validates the feedback. They may use subjective answers from open-ended questions as a starting point for discussions and developmental planning.

When to Implement 360 Degree Feedback?

There are various opinions regarding the ideal time for a 360-degree assessment. Companies frequently carry out performance evaluations every six months, and following the assessment of salaries, a 360-degree survey is frequently included.

Others think that everyone benefits from doing 360 reviews on a regular basis. Frequent feedback sessions are especially beneficial for new hires since they actively foster progress. You can also ask questions about certain projects, clients, or internal company events by using more recommendations.

The results are interpreted with greater caution the less frequently the reactions are received. Feedback that is only gathered once a year might only represent the present, which might not accurately represent the situation as it usually is.

How to Implement a 360 Feedback System

Follow these 6 simple steps to successfully implement a 360 feedback system. Feel free to reiterate these steps according to your organizational needs, and use this method as a foundation for future re-iterations.

1. Communicate the purpose

Conveying the purpose, process, and benefits of 360 degree feedback helps every employee understand that the feedback is a tool for development and growth, rather than merely a form of criticism.

2. Determine what competencies you want to assess

It's essential to determine the specific core competencies, values, or behaviors you wish to evaluate through the 360-degree feedback process. These competencies and values should be defined by your organization and tailored to be relevant to the role of the individual being assessed.

For example, a Product Developer, and a Product Marketer are evaluated on different competencies. And the Product Manager is evaluated on a different set of competencies. But all of these roles will have some common core competencies like communication and integrity.

3. Ensure anonymity

It is important to maintain confidentiality in the survey. Anonymous feedback allows raters to give their honest and anonymous feedback. But you can also determine what data is anonymous and what isn't.

4. Decide who the participants would be

Choosing the right evaluators is a critical step. They should be individuals who have worked with the subject for a minimum of six months. Additionally, it's vital to guide these evaluators on how to provide feedback that is respectful, honest, and free from bias.

To ensure succinct, accurate, and unbiased feedback, be aware of the following types of biases:

  • Affinity Bias: This bias occurs when individuals prefer people who are similar to them in terms of background, experiences, or interests.
  • Confirmation Bias: This bias involves favoring information that confirms pre-existing beliefs or values while ignoring or dismissing information that contradicts them.
  • Halo Effect: This bias involves forming a positive impression of someone based on one characteristic, such as physical appearance, without considering other relevant factors.
  • Horn Effect: The opposite of the Halo Effect, this bias involves forming a negative impression of someone based on a single characteristic.
  • Implicit Association Bias: This bias is related to the automatic association of certain stereotypes with particular groups, influencing perceptions and decisions.
  • Recency Bias: This happens when recent events or experiences are given undue weight, overshadowing a more comprehensive evaluation.

5. Set a timeline

Establish a timeline for the feedback process. Include a deadline to provide feedback to allow you enough time to conduct discussions for each individual being evaluated.

6. Choose the right system

An effective 360 feedback tool can help you collect, gather structured and detailed information. Look for a system that can schedule 360 feedback surveys and can automate data collection and report generation.

Additional Tips for Building an Effective 360-Degree Feedback System

When the time comes for your company to introduce a 360-degree audit program, remember these pointers: 

#1 Establish definite objectives 

Establish objectives for both you and the person in charge of 360-degree assessments. Make sure these important managers understand that surveys should not be used for direct performance evaluation but rather for development and improvement. 

#2 Educate reviewers 

Everyone who works on developing or gathering survey reviews, including your assistance, should receive training. Retaining uniformity throughout all assessments is the aim. To produce outcomes that are constructive and goal-oriented, evaluators also require direction. The outcomes ought to enable staff members to foster favorable professional momentum with those in their immediate vicinity. 

#3 Concentrate on your natural abilities 

Advise evaluators to concentrate on a person's fundamental and inherent strengths when providing 360-degree feedback. Discuss in a positive way how the worker might build on these advantages and put their "best foot forward" to advance their career. 

#4 Involve managers and leaders

Your 360-degree feedback program's adoption and support by managers, supervisors, and other important stakeholders are essential to its success. Make an effort to include these managers in the process and highlight the program's advantages for staff development. 

#5 Boost confidence and buy-in for 360-degree assessment programs

Inquiring about the opinions of others regarding one's job at work may seem like a potentially harmful interaction. It is important to dispel these misconceptions and consistently remind managers, supervisors, and staff members that this is a tool for improvement intended to enhance each person's experience and professional growth. Gain support for and confidence in the 360-degree process.

This may also interest you: 360 feedback for managers: Best practices and tips.

And, 360 degree feedback examples to improve employee engagement and performance.

360 Feedback Sample Questionnaire

We've included a few sample questions based on 4 competencies to give you a clear idea on what kind of questions you can include in your 360 feedback system.

The amount of competencies and questions may vary for your organization. This questionnaire includes a mix of closed and open-ended questions to give you a roadmap to decide your own set of questions.

1. Problem-solving

This competency evaluates the individual's ability to analyze issues, develop solutions, and implement them effectively.

  • In your experience, how does this person approach and solve problems?
  • Can you recall a time when they came up with a creative solution to a tricky issue?

2. Communication

Assesses the individual's ability to convey information clearly and listen actively to others.

  • How effectively do you think he/she communicates in team discussions or meetings?
  • How would you rate his/her listening skills, especially when it comes to different viewpoints?

3. Customer Focus

Measures the individual's dedication to meeting the needs of clients and creating a positive customer experience.

  • Have you noticed them going out of their way to meet customer needs?
  • Can you share an instance where they really impressed a customer or significantly improved their experience?

4. Mentoring

Looks at the individual's ability to guide, develop, and support colleagues or subordinates.

  • How do you see them supporting or mentoring team members?
  • Is there a particular moment that stands out where they positively impacted someone's career or skill development?
  • Also read: The significance of job competencies: A comprehensive guide.

    The Future of 360-Degree Feedback

    360-degree feedback can help your company strengthen its high points and improve weaknesses after analyzing employee responses, as well as boost better communication by increasing sharing and trust between diverse employees. In order to improve the performance of the organization, it is important that the implementation of this procedure is well thought out and goes through all the points mentioned above.  

    360 degree feedback isn’t about rating your people — it’s about investing in them.