What is 360-degree feedback?
The process in which you evaluate yourself on
a set of criteria, your manager evaluates you,
as do your peers and direct reports. You receive
a gap analysis between how you perceive yourself
and how others perceive you. Effective 360-degree
feedback processes also include develop planning
and coaching sessions.
How can I easily refer to ratees and raters?
The terms ratee (the person being evaluated)
and rater (the person doing the rating) can be
cumbersome. Team Builders Plus utilizes the phrase
"feedback recipient" instead of "ratee"
and "respondent" instead of "rater".
What type of information should be targeted
in the survey?
- Knowledge - familiarity with job, industry,
- Skills - task proficiency
- Behaviors - patterns in relating to the environment
- NOT personality traits or styles
What are the benefits of 360-degree feedback
To the individual:
- Perception is reality and this process helps
individuals to understand how others perceive
- Uncover blind spots
- Feedback is essential for learning
- Individuals can better manage their own performance
- Quantifiable data on soft skills
To the team:
- Increases communication between team members
higher levels of trust and better communication
as individuals identify the causes of breakdowns
- Better team environment as people discover
how to treat others how they want to be treated
- Supports teamwork by involving team members
in the development process
- Increased team effectiveness
To the organization:
- Reinforced corporate culture by linking survey
items to organizational leadership competencies
and company values
- Better career development for employees
- Promote from within
- Improves customer service by having customers
contribute to the evaluation process
- Conduct relevant training
How has 360-degree feedback changed over
- Participants: Then: Executives Now: Individuals
at all levels of organizations
- Medium: Then: Paper or scan forms Now: Paperless,
- Design: Then: Rigid, fixed surveys Now: Locally
customized by the user organization
- Feedback: Then: Numeric ratings only Now: Targeted
comment provided for each survey item
- Output: Then: Fixed reports Now: Design your
- Cost: Then: Expensive Now: Affordable
How do I know if my organization is ready
to conduct a 360-degree feedback?
By conducting a 360 readiness survey, you can
determine if your organization is ready to conduct
360-degree feedback. The survey should include
topics such as:
- 360 awareness - understanding of 360 and
how it works
- Support - belief that the organization and
manager would support development processes
- Feedback climate - I trust that the information
would be used for development purposes and that
people would be fair (belief in confidentiality
- Openness - willingness to give and receive
How is 360 different from personality or
- Styles tools measure traits or behavioral preferences,
while 360 measures competence
- Style explains how you are likely to behave,
while 360 explains how you actually behave
How many companies are using 360?
While there’s no ‘master list’
or way to know for sure, given the anecdotal evidence
gained through the many articles on 360 published
over the years it would seem likely that by now
nearly all Fortune 1000 companies have either
already implemented a 360 process or plan to shortly.
The increasing affordability of 360 has allowed
many small to mid-size companies to undertake
360 for individuals and groups within their organizations.
In fact, 360 has become so well established that
often individuals in companies without a formal
process in place will seek outside means to run
360 on themselves.
How often should 360 be rolled out?
Given that people need time to make changes
and then, it takes a little while before others
perceive that change has taken place, we have
found that nine to twelve-month intervals are
most appropriate. This allows people to create
change and then get feedback on their progress
so that they can develop next-level goals and
action plans. However, some organizations prefer
to conduct surveys of just ten to fifteen questions,
focusing on a specific topic, such as Running
Effective Meetings. These mini-360s are done monthly
in conjunction with training on that topic.
What are the criteria for selecting raters
- Length of time the respondent knows the feedback
- Amount of contact with feedback recipient
- Understands the full nature of what the feedback
- Select some individuals who work well with the
feedback recipient and some who do not
In what media is 360-degree feedback conducted?
There are a variety of methods to gather data
but primarily this now a web-based process. However,
it is also possible to utilize paper surveys and
face-to-face interviews to gather data.
Who gets a copy of the feedback report?
The feedback recipient is the only person who
gets a copy of the report. The manager gets group
and organizational data, but no individual data.
While giving the data does increase accountability
and allows the manager to quantifiably track progress,
there are a variety of pitfalls to giving the
manager a copy of the report, such as:
- People will fear the process
- Feedback comments will not be as constructive
- Scores may be higher
- Data can become a weapon, not a development
- Manager may lacks the ability to interpret
the data appropriately
- Manager may reprimand the employee for not
Participants must share goals and action plans,
not actual survey results. In this way, managers
can act as ongoing coaches, guiding the individual
to higher performance levels. When managers get
the reports they often miss underlying core issues
by focusing too intently on the lowest rated items
or may act as judges, focusing on specific scores
and comments and using them as a weapon during
the performance review.
How long should the survey be?
To ensure that people take an adequate time
to consider each question and provide positive
and constructive feedback, the survey should be
contain as few questions as possible. If survey
items are carefully researched to ensure relevance,
the number of questions should not exceed 50.
Is it necessary to customize the survey
or are standard questionnaires acceptable?
A standard survey can be utilized effectively
if all of the questions are relevant and all of
the critical behavioral areas are included. On
average, it takes one minute to answer each question
and provide comments. If questions are not appropriate
given the organization's culture or individual's
role, the respondents waste much time. If someone
is being rated by twelve people and five questions
are not relevant, one hour of time is wasted.
Now, consider a project in which 200 people are
rated. A custom-designed survey will fit your
needs and support the organizational culture and
mission. Pre-work in designing an appropriate
survey pays-off in the long-run.
How can I ensure confidentiality?
Confidentiality is important to both the feedback
recipient and the respondents. If the feedback
recipient is not guaranteed that the results will
remain confidential, they will tend to feel anxiety
about the purpose of the process and the use of
the data. If the respondents are not guaranteed
that their names will not appear on the report
or be linked to specific comments or ratings,
then they may not provide accurate responses and
be completely open. To ensure confidentiality:
- Select a neutral administrator (e.g. an external
consultant or human resources representative)
- Print only one report per person
- User-names & passwords should be required
to access the survey and the response data should
- Ensure that online systems are encrypting
the data and storing the results on a secure
Should 360-degree feedback be linked to
360-degree feedback and performance appraisals
can complement each other, but should not be linked.
If 360 is linked to compensation decisions, it
loses its power as a development tool. When compensation
is the outcome, individuals will quickly learn
how to play the game, "I'll scratch your
back, if you scratch mine." Further, if people
do not get satisfactory ratings, morale can decrease
when 360 is linked to performance appraisal mode,
but low scores when 360 is used purely for development
tend to be viewed as constructive feedback.
Is 360-degree feedback data legally defensible
if linked to performance appraisal and utilized
for merit increase, bonus, promotion or firing decisions?
As William Swan & Philip Margulies summarize
in their book “How to Do A Superior Performance
Appraisal”, EEOC guidelines state that "an
org. must demonstrate that its appraisal process
is valid, that it is job related, and that it
accurately measures significant aspects of job
performance. The organization must demonstrate
that the appraisal system is the best available
method, that no other system is less discriminatory."
This in turn requires that the raters can be identified
with the ratings they provide. Given that raters
are anonymous in the 360-degree feedback process,
revealing raters would violate confidentiality.
Ultimately, organizations could be at risk if
360-degree feedback scores are utilized for decisions
arising from an appraisal process.
How can you verify the validity and reliability
of a 360 survey?
Questions about validity are most important
with instruments that were developed in the tradition
of psychological tests with the purpose of measuring
things that cannot be observed directly, such
as values, attitudes, styles and traits. 360-degree
feedback survey items should always be based on
concrete, observable behaviors.
To establish face validity, show the survey to
a representative group of people who will be giving
and receiving feedback and ask the following questions:
- Are the questions clear or ambiguous? (Have
each person restate the questions to see if
interpretation is consistent)
- Are the questions relevant to the feedback
- Are the major items addressed?
Just because a survey was validated in the context
of another population, does not mean that it will
be valid for your organization. For this reason,
customizable assessment platforms are the state
of the art, because they can be adjusted to align
with local conditions.
How do I write good questions for the 360
There is a checklists of 7 criteria used in
constructing a good 360 survey:
- Does the item utilize an ACTION VERB?
- Does the item describe an OBSERVABLE behavior?
- Does the item describe ONLY ONE behavior?
- Is the item described in CLEAR LANGUAGE?
- Is the item described as a POSITIVE, desired
- Does the item describe an IMPORTANT behavior?
- Does this item, taken together with all of
the other items, SUFFICIENTLY DEFINE the category?
How important are national norms?
Every organization, even those within the same
industry, has a distinctly different culture and
set of values. What important in one organization
may be relatively unimportant in another. Additionally,
most participants affirm that comments, not numeric
ratings, give the most meaningful feedback. For
these reasons, we have found that comparing individual
results to national norms, while indeed is interesting
to consider, is not as relevant as comparing one's
scores to local norms (the scores of one's direct
peers and organization as a whole).
What size scale should I use?
We have found that scales of five-points or
less are too small to provide a clear delineation
between core strengths and behavioral challenges.
Raters should have access to at least seven rating
options, and a ten-point scale provides for an
even greater spread of responses. Further, raters
should be encouraged to utilize the entire range.
How do you introduce 360-degree feedback
to a potentially resistant organization?
- Start at the top with the most senior management
- Conduct a pilot
- Directly address, up front, the issues that
are at the source of the resistance
- Focus on the benefits for the individual or
- Utilize an external consultant to minimize fears
of confidentiality and inappropriate data usage
Is 360-degree feedback ever inappropriate?
- The person receiving feedback is too new
to the group or organization
- There are not enough respondents who truly
understand the full scope of the individual's
- During a time of major change such as just
before or after a merger or acquisition
- In an environment where there is a high degree
Does 360-degree feedback really generate
Lyle Spencer and Charles Morrow in The Economic
Value of Competencies: Measuring ROI, found that
360-degree feedback systems could yield a Return
on Investment as high as 700 percent.
How can I get more information on the
Check out the 360 Process page on this site,
submit a question to the 360 Coach, check out
the 360 Services offered by Team Builders Plus,
or call us at +1-856-596-4196, 9-5 Eastern (-5hrs.