What is 360 Degree Feedback
Sometimes referred to as multi-rater feedback, 360 degree appraisal or 360 degree assessment, it is a process by which individuals can ask others to provide them with feedback on their performance, including the behaviours, skills and competencies they display in their job.
Those taking part typically invite feedback from a cross-section of work colleagues and even clients. Feedback is usually given anonymously (apart from the manager), although more organisations are starting to introduce some attributed feedback too.
360 feedback is known for its versatility and it has a number of different applications such as for employee and leadership development, to inform performance appraisal or to embed cultural values. It’s also being used more and more as an aid to career conversations, helping individuals see where they need to focus to progress.
Why use 360 feedback?
The value of the process lies in the fact that you get a balanced view due to the feedback coming from multiple sources as opposed to just one source (line manager). This has arguably become of even greater value in modern workplaces where sometimes managers and their teams don’t work in the same office or even country. Managers may, therefore, not always be best placed to provide feedback on a person’s day to day activities and behaviour.
By inviting people who you work closely with and who have plenty of opportunity to observe you, you’re more assured of getting valuable, well-informed developmental feedback. When acted upon, this can prove a great catalyst for personal development.
Whereas a traditional performance review will focus on what you’ve achieved, a 360 degree review is all about how you work. It can be particularly effective in helping you to improve key ‘soft’ or transferable skills such as leadership, working collaboratively and communication.
Should 360 feedback be used for development or appraisal?
It can be either but should never be both. More commonly, 360 feedback is considered a development tool. However, it can be useful as part of a performance review too, but it is crucial that the feedback culture is mature enough for this. Where companies are interested in using it to measure performance, Surview recommends introducing a 360 programme first for development and then transitioning at a point in the future, once the business is ready.
Can 360 feedback help to establish a feedback culture?
Fostering a strong and open feedback culture promises numerous benefits for both individuals and organisations. Receiving regular, constructive feedback about how you’re doing in general or how you fared on a recent project is something we could all find helpful. Ideally such formal and informal feedback conversations should be happening at all levels between peers and between managers and subordinates as this will help to improve things like employee engagement and performance. For its part, a 360 process can help to establish a level of comfort with the idea of giving and receiving feedback so that this becomes the norm.
Which job levels is 360 feedback most useful for?
While traditionally 360 feedback was seen as a tool for senior leadership development, it can be invaluable for many other employee groups too. People managers at all levels are one such example. Developing managerial capabilities and behaviours in this group has the potential for far reaching benefits both for the individual and the organisation. While the population you target will depend on the aims of the programme, most multi-rater feedback processes tend to start with the senior team before being cascaded down the management levels. The benefit of this approach is that others see senior leaders taking part first, building confidence and buy-in to the programme.