The Ultimate Guide to 360-Degree Feedback in the Workplace

Research shows that positive or congratulatory feedback (clear, relevant, and honest) keeps employees motivated, engaged, and helps them perform better. 

Feedback can be a game changer for your organization. 

On the flip side, negative feedback can be harmful to the productivity of employees. It can put employees off the right track and make them feel disconnected from the organization.

According to Gallup research, four out of every five employees who receive negative feedback are looking for a job change. 

four out of every five employees who receive negative feedback are looking for a job change

How can managers then ensure the feedback process is effective and provides employees with the zeal to perform better? 

Enter 360-degree feedback

An unbiased multi-rater process with the potential to help employees recognize their strengths, weaknesses, skills, and personal attributes that help them achieve their goals. It also highlights the specific competencies that can be improved for performance enhancement.

The first commercial use of 360 degree feedback dates back to 1950, when Esso Research and Engineering conducted surveys to gather feedback from multiple sources and were able to create a process-driven performance management system. Over the years, it has gained wide acceptance and is used by the majority of organizations as an employee development tool.

In this article, we will discuss the intricacies of 360-degree feedback and unpack the following:

What is 360 Degree Feedback?

360-degree feedback or multi-rater feedback, is a system wherein an employee gets feedback not just from their managers but from multiple stakeholders, both within and outside the organization. 

It is anonymous and confidential feedback shared by multiple raters, such as managers, peers, vendors, direct reports, subordinates, clients, consultants, and contractors, and includes employee self-evaluation. The important point to note is that all the raters involved in the feedback process have a working relationship with the employee being rated.

Commonly used as an employee development tool, 360-degree feedback helps employees gauge their own performance by taking feedback from multiple sources and providing them with actionable insights. The presence of multiple raters helps remove bias from the process and offers a clear picture of an employee’s strengths and weaknesses. 

The insights collected from the feedback process highlight the personal traits, attributes, behaviors, competencies, and skills that are required for performing the duties and thereby achieving organizational goals.

What is the Psychology Behind the 360 Degree Feedback Process? 

Feedback is crucial for the growth and development of employees. Multiple research studies have highlighted the importance of regular and structured feedback on the performance of the workforce. 

It has been substantiated that feedback helps employees understand their weaknesses and blind spots and provides them with the opportunity and processes to improve their performance. Furthermore, by highlighting the positive aspects of their performance, 360 feedback aids in improving employee morale and boosting motivation towards work.

There are certain aspects of performance that are not easily visible to the employee but can be easily gauged by the people working with them. By highlighting such specific personality traits and attributes that are important for the employee’s development, feedback assists them in achieving their highest potential.

In a traditional feedback system, organizations relied heavily on the judgment of the managers to provide insights into their team’s performance. But recent developments in the field of organizational psychology have shown that such a system is ineffective in bringing positive results. The traditional system is loaded with biases and can even hamper employees’ performance in the long run.

What is the Impact of 360 Degree Feedback?

benefits for employees: 360 degree assessment


360-degree feedback impacts every aspect of the organization. It helps in finding leaders in organizations, creates an environment of self awareness, trust, and loyalty, and increases workforce output in the long run.

The effectiveness of the multi-rater feedback system depends a lot on how it is implemented, and based on that, changes can be observed in the organization’s performance.

360-degree feedback has become ubiquitous; more than 85% of Fortune 500 organizations are now using it for multiple purposes.

Also Read: The importance of 360-degree feedback in healthcare industry

What are the Benefits of 360 Degree Feedback?

The benefits of well-thought-out and structured 360 degree feedback can be felt in different realms of the organization. Other than making employees more accountable for their development by highlighting their strengths and improvement areas, it helps in reducing attrition, establishing transparent and open communication channels, and encouraging more dialogue in the organization. 

The following are some of the upsides of having a 360 degree feedback system in the organization:

For Employees

Employees want more feedback from their employers. The changing technical landscape and short shelf life of skills are putting extreme pressure on employees to be much more involved in their learning and development. Furthermore, it helps employees improve their performance.

Research conducted by Gallup to understand the effect of regular feedback on the performance of employees found that 26% of employees strongly agreed that feedback helped them perform better in their job duties. 

360 degree feedback helps employees become more invested in their personal and professional growth and aids in achieving the following:

  • Increased self awareness
  • Promotes team participation
  • Identify training gaps
  • Team building
  • Enhances customer relationship
  • Unleash hidden strengths and potentials
  • Empowering employees
  • Boosts employee morale and confidence

360 degree feedback guide for HR leaders

For Employers

Providing meaningful feedback is the key to improving productivity and engagement in the workplace. Be it a remote, hybrid, or in-office setup, it is important that employers provide regular, relevant, and meaningful feedback to support their employees’ growth.

Employers can realize the following benefits with an efficient multi-rater feedback system:

  • Creating a positive brand image
  • Increased transparency in the organization
  • Create customized training programs
  • Improve work relationships
  • Improves employee engagement

360-degree feedback to employersSouce:

Disadvantages of 360 Degree Feedback

Even with all the brouhaha surrounding the 360 degree feedback, there are instances where multi-rater feedback fails to provide any benefits to organizations. 

While there are multiple reasons why omnidirectional feedback doesn’t work, most of it comes down to how the process was planned and implemented in the organization. Here are some of the other reasons why a 360-degree feedback system fails.

  • Improper planning
  • Lack of communication
  • Ineffective employee assessments
  • Not establishing the purpose of the process
  • Lack of confidentiality
  • Unable to get employees onboard
  • Not aligning the purpose with organizational objectives
  • No follow-up plan

All the aforementioned issues can lead to the failure of a multi-source feedback system. It is therefore important to discuss the disadvantages of 360-degree feedback before planning to implement it in the organization.

  • It can a tedious and time consuming process
  • Inaccurate assessments due to dishonest feedback shared by employees
  • Distrust among employees because of not following up on the feedback
  • Anonymity of feedback may prevent employees from taking it seriously
  • While positive feedback is known to promote engagement in the workplace, focusing too much on the negative aspects can lead to the opposite

What is the 360 Degree Feedback Process? (How to Implement a Multi-Rater System)

Careful planning and implementation are necessary for 360-degree feedback to harbinger accurate results. Organizations should first understand the purpose of implementing a multi-rater feedback system, whether it is to enhance employee engagement, productivity, or development, or to focus on other key business areas. 

It is important to have experienced leaders who are well versed in the planning, strategy, and implementation processes to get multi-source feedback started in the organization. 

The following section highlights the 360 degree feedback process steps required to deploy it in the organization:

    • Management support: The first step is to get the management onboard. As employees look out to their leaders for motivation and involvement, getting support from the leadership team will propel the process in the right direction.
    • Establish the purpose of the feedback: Create a document highlighting the outcomes you wish to achieve by implementing the feedback process.
    • Create a rule book: A rule highlighting the process should be created and circulated in the organization. It is up to the discretion of the management to establish but the following things goes without saying: Anonymity, Confidentiality, and Behaviour over character.
    • Get employees onboarded: Communicate employees regarding the process and explain them the process with benefits in detail.
    • Determine competencies to be measured: Select 360 competencies to be assessed and use behavioral indicators for evaluation. Please note that based on the purpose of the assessment, the competencies will vary.
    • 360 degree feedback software: A 360-degree feedback software helps in efficient implementation of the process and provides a customizable dashboard to visualize the results. It further helps in analyzing and creating customized reports that can be shared directly with employees.
    • Provide customized reports: Provide detailed reports to employees with a plan of action to act on the insights created by the feedback process.
    • Follow up: Managers need to follow up with employees on the 360 degree assessment report and plan out strategies to get things in action.

Refer to the below infographic for quick access to the 360-degree feedback process in organizations.

How to implement 360-degree feedback?360 Degree Feedback Best Practices Guidelines

There is no one-size-fits all approach to creating a 360 degree feedback system in an organization. It requires a thorough analysis and a good understanding of the industry, employees, and organizational culture to get the most out of the multi-rater feedback process.

The following best practice guidelines should be at your disposal to seamlessly implement the multi-source feedback process:

  • Frequency of the feedback: Depending upon the purpose, your organization should set the frequency of conducting the feedback. For employee development, the frequency should be annual to give time to employees to reflect upon the suggested plan of action.
  • Focus area: A 360-degree feedback offers insights into multiple aspects of a business. It is important to decide upon the areas that need to be addressed on priority. A feedback process with no focus areas will only result in demotivated workforce and a waste of resources.
  • Don’t plan out the feedback process in silos: Everyone in the organization should be included in the feedback process to derive benefits out of it.
  • Framing the right questions: Depending on the focus area, you need to frame the questions to get the genuine and unambiguous feedback from employees. If the focus area is to get feedback on the leadership team, the questions will differ drastically if the focus area would be employee development.
  • Follow up with employees: The reason why employees do not take the feedback process seriously is because either the management does not take any action on the feedback received or it does not bother following up with employees. It is not sufficient to just conduct the feedback process and provide employees with an action plan. Following up is part of the process and should be planned accordingly when deploying the multi-rater feedback process.
  • Number of competencies to be selected: It is best to have 4-5 workplace competencies with 30-40 behavioral indicators in a multi-rate feedback. Adding more competencies can make it feel like a burden to employees and reducing them will lead to data insufficiency. 
  • Linking multi-raterFeedback to performance appraisal: Linking 360-degree feedback to performance appraisal can completely undermine its purpose of employee development. Imagine an organization where peers, vendors, and contractors provide inaccurate ratings to support the reviewee in performance reviews.

Refer to the below infographic on the best practices for 360 degree feedback to effectively plan and execute it in your organization.

Quick tips on 360 degree feedback

360 Degree Feedback Questions

Drafting the right 360 degree feedback questions is important to get accurate feedback from employees. You have to keep in mind the purpose of the process, the competencies to be assessed, and the clarity of the questions to solicit genuine and actionable feedback from the workforce.

360 Degree Feedback Questionnaire for Managers

The following questions will help evaluate the specific competencies of a manager:

  • Is the manager able to inspire others in the team?
  • Do they take corrective actions without coming across as rude to team members?
  • How well does the manager distribute their time among several projects?
  • Do they provide help and support to the team members?
  • How good is the manager at solving problems?
  • Is the manager able to work under pressure?
  • How good is the decision-making process of the manager?
  • How well does the manager understand organizational objectives?

360 Degree Feedback Questions for Leadership

It is important to assess leadership skills using different parameters and provide employees with input to enhance their abilities. The following questions will help gauge their leadership strengths and weaknesses:

  • Is the employee good at collaborating with other members of the team?
  • Do they take the initiative to solve others’ problems?
  • Do they respect others’ opinions and feedback from the team?
  • Are they open to discussing problems and finding solutions collaboratively?
  • Do they encourage others in the team to do quality work?
  • Are they inspiring and motivating?
  • Are they producing good results in the projects they are working on?
  • Do they supervise others effectively when required?
  • Are they good at leading people?

360 degree assessment for organizations

360-Degree Feedback Template

To carry out the feedback process effectively, it is imperative to have a thoughtfully laid out, researched, and customizable template. 

Engagedly’s 360-degree feedback form template encompasses multiple competencies that will enable you to find leaders in the organization and provide input for improvement plans. You can also customize the template by selecting the required competencies along with the behavioral indicators.

Download 360 Degree Feedback Form Template

360 Assessment Certification

A 360 assessment certification prepares leaders, HR managers, consultants, and 360 assessment administrators to effectively plan, strategize, and deploy the multi-rater feedback process in the organization. 

This certification prepares you to analyze the results, prepare reports, and provide actionable and data-driven recommendations for enhancing workforce productivity.  

After going through Engagedly Academy’s Building & Designing Your 360 Degree Feedback Tool Certification, you will be able to do the following:

  • Learn the importance of a well-designed 360 feedback process
  • Uses of 360 degree feedback
  • Design and build your feedback tool

Get Your 360 Assessment Certification Online

How Does 360 Degree Feedback Software Help?

A 360 degree feedback software like Engagedly seamlessly integrates the whole process of planning, strategizing, and deploying multi-rater assessments. It helps in executing the performance management strategy by providing regular, effective, and actionable feedback and further substantiating the growth and development of employees. 

Through interactive dashboards and quick analysis of assessments, it provides personalized and action-packed reports to employees. With Engagedly, you can conduct a 360 process for leadership assessments, competency assessments, and even client feedback.

The Engagedly 360 Degree Approach

Even the best-performing and self-aware individuals fail to see their strengths and weaknesses in their work and workplace behaviors. The purpose of a well-designed 360 degree assessment is to understand and coach individuals and leaders on their areas of strengths and opportunities so that they can be effective in their organization.

Engagedly’s expert practitioners work with you to design, execute, analyze and provide insight and coaching on customized 360’s for your organization. The table below highlights the various activities, descriptions, and the time allotted for each activity for conducting the assessment.

Activity Description  Time Allotted To Complete
360 Goals and Plan Develop goals and a plan to execute a 360 assessment 1-2 Weeks
Launch Communicate the purpose, conduct a webinar and launch 360 1 Week
Analyze Results Collect results, analyze and develop a report readout 2 Weeks
Coaching Plan Develop a coaching plan for each individual based on the results 1-2 Weeks

Concluding Words

The importance of feedback cannot be undermined in the current business scenario. It is critical for the learning and development of employees and for organizations to stay ahead in a competitive global market. By making employees accountable for their own growth, 360-degree feedback helps improve productivity, engagement, and efficiency of the organization. 

360 degree feedback demo

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is a 360-degree feedback method?

Ans. 360 degree feedback is an employee assessment or evaluation process wherein employees receive feedback from multiple sources, including their manager, direct reports, and peers. It is unbiased, confidential, anonymous, and holistic feedback.

Q2. What is the central feature of a 360-degree feedback system? 

Ans. The central feature of a 360-degree feedback system is the use of multiple raters to solicit feedback about an employee’s skills, competencies, behaviors, and traits. This feature keeps the feedback free from any sort of bias or inconsistency.

Q3. What should be included in 360 degree feedback?

Ans. A typical 360 degree feedback process should include the following competencies: 

  • Leadership capabilities
  • Management skills
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Creativity/Innovation
  • Team work
  • Work relationships

Q4. Who can give 360 feedback?

Ans. In 360 feedback, an employee receives reviews on their performance from their manager, direct reports, peers, vendors, contractors, and clients. It is worth noting that raters should have direct working relationships with the employees being evaluated.