What Is 360º Feedback and Why Does It Matter for Staff Performance?

Feedbackgespräch Personio Mitarbeiter

What is the importance of 360 degree feedback? When you have a feedback system that does all 360 degrees, it can result in a more holistic, comprehensive, and effective staff appraisal system.

But, first, you need to know what it is and how to do it. In this article, we break down the 360 degree feedback cycle, what employee 360 feedback looks like, and how you can start implementing it as a system today.

Download our performance review template today for more streamlined and successful reviews.


What Does 360 Degree Feedback Mean?
What Makes 360 Degree Feedback So Effective?
How Does 360 Degree Feedback Work?
What Does 360 Degree Feedback Ideally Entail?
What Advantages and Disadvantages Does 360 Degree Feedback Have?
The Success of 360 Degree Feedback Depends on Two Core Competencies
360 Degree Feedback As Part of Performance Management

What Is 360 Degree Feedback?

The 360 degree feedback process is based on feedback from an employee’s reports, colleagues, and supervisors. Essentially, every person your employee comes into contact with gets their chance to weigh in on their performance. This leaves you with a more well-rounded and holistic view of an employee’s overall performance.

Is 360 Feedback Designed For Senior Employees?

360 degree feedback is often viewed as an HR development tool that is used for people in more senior positions. While it may have a place for every employee in your organization, the conventional view is that employees in more senior leadership positions have more varied interactions. Therefore, feedback from multiple parties is not only helpful, but it can often be necessary.

Who Should Be Asked To Give 360 Degree Feedback?

Some involved stakeholders in this process may include:

  • The relevant employee themself (in the form of a self-assessment)
  • The employee’s direct supervisor
  • Colleagues
  • Employees
  • External parties (customers, for example)

Does 360 Feedback Even Work?

The 360 degree feedback method is about synthesizing self-assessment and external assessment to gain a good picture of an employee’s potential for future development. On one hand, employees perform a self-assessment, which could include answering some of the following questions:

  • How do they see themselves in their dealings with other employees or managers?
  • What would they rate as their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What successes and failures have they had in the most recent performance interval?
  • What was it that prevented them from reaching their full potential?

These answers allow employees to build up an informed self-view, which they can then compare with an external perspective (how others see them, their work, and their growth).

These external perspectives consist of performance reviews provided by colleagues, managers, or even customers. This approach offers the advantage that employees receive more comprehensive feedback on their performance while avoiding a subjective assessment from their manager alone.

After all, employees may have a different relationship with their supervisors than with their peers. That is why it is so important to gain their perspectives, too, for a well-rounded evaluation.

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What Is The 360 Feedback Process?

There are four components that are important to keep in mind during a 360 degree feedback process, including:

1. Implementing the Process

Before introducing 360 degree performance reviews in your company, you should communicate this extensively. Explain what this feedback tool is all about and be open to any concerns your employees may have. This helps ensure a culture of transparency and thought-through decision-making processes (read more here about the importance of culture).

2. Preparing the Feedback Round

Take your time to determine who is going to provide feedback for specific employees. Then, make sure to let these people know about the process.

Craft the 360 degree feedback questionnaire, perhaps even by using helpful HR software. It is essential that the questionnaire is validated and specific to your company. This ensures that results are robust, deliver practical value, and are relevant to your company.

Questions can either be prepared by trained experts, or an agency can even be asked to select existing questionnaires that match your specific purpose.

3. Obtaining and Evaluating Feedback

Source feedback from the various identified providers and evaluate it accordingly. If questionnaires are completed online, it is easy to analyze the resulting data.

Digital online questionnaires also offer the benefit that all participants submit their responses anonymously. This produces more honest replies, which add more value to the process overall.

4. Acting On Obtained Feedback

Inform the employee about their results. Define goals and establish steps for reaching them to ensure that feedback is effective. These should be reviewed regularly, for example during regular review meetings.

It is also a good idea to consider the following questions particularly carefully:

  • What is the occasion for the feedback and what is the hierarchy is it produced from?
  • What role does the feedback provider have?
  • What conclusions can the employee draw from the feedback, and how are they to respond to it most effectively?
  • Which aspects of the feedback would the employee most enjoy implementing?

These questions represent thought processes in which the employee is invited to reflect with their manager’s support. Finally, it is important that initiatives are discussed for future implementation.

Furthermore, these all need to be monitored and checked, just like any other process where a system or change is introduced. The employee’s line manager should monitor and guide the planned further development initiatives above all.

But, how are managers expected to stay on top of this process if they have teams of ten people or more? This is where software can help, as it allows staff development to be documented and tracked (click here to learn more). This, in turn, ensures that negative developments among staff can be identified and addressed quickly.

The Importance of 360 Degree Feedback at Personio

Personio’s employees value the feedback they give to each other, above all the fact that it relates more closely to their practical work. Read this article to find out more about what 360 degree feedback looks like at Personio.

How Do You Give 360 Feedback?

If 360 degree feedback is to promote your employees’ development in the long term, there are a few points you should keep in mind:

  • Anonymity: Employees should be assessed on an anonymous basis. Otherwise, you are unlikely to receive honest evaluations of their performance and potential, as those giving feedback may only provide superficial assessments or leave some important aspects out if they believe that their comments could have negative consequences.
  • Focus on development: Make sure that the 360 degree feedback questionnaire is designed to assess competencies that are genuinely relevant for staff development. Avoid asking only about an employee’s weaknesses – also ask for feedback about their strengths.
  • Relevance to the employee’s position and the company: The data collected from the questionnaire should be related to the evaluated person and the company. It is, for example, pointless to assess an IT specialist in terms of how they engage with customers if they have no or almost no customer contact.

Should 360 Feedback Always Be Anonymous?

If you want the most honest responses from various stakeholders, then 360 feedback should almost always be anonymous. That said, there may be a place for including the option to leave named feedback. If an employee wants their colleague to know how their work has influenced them, they may want to have their name attached. This, of course, should only be an option.

What Are Advantages Of 360 Feedback?

A 360 degree assessment offers a number of benefits over standard review meetings between supervisors and employees. These include:

  • Objectivity: Feedback is not only dependent on a single person. As a result, the basis from which you source your information is broader. Colleagues and customers working with the evaluated employee are often in a better position to assess them than a supervisor.
  • Greater nuance: Each of the people who provide feedback will notice something different about the employee. You’ll therefore get a more nuanced picture of the person and will be better able to identify the potential for further development.
  • Acceptance: Many people are more prepared to accept feedback when it comes from several people rather than just one. However, there are also critical voices regarding 360 degree feedback.

What Are The Disadvantages Of 360 Degree Feedback?

Its disadvantages include:

    • High effort: Due to the number of people and steps involved in the process, this type of feedback is very time-consuming. For example, the questionnaire needs to be developed and evaluated. Smart HR software can make these processes easier.
    • Anonymity: Anonymity is a double-edged sword. While it allows those giving feedback to express their opinions freely, this can also be exploited if they wish to harm the evaluated employee through vengeful reviews.

Download Our Staff Appraisal Template Today

If you want to ensure that the feedback you give is not only good but actionable to drive performance, try downloading our complimentary performance appraisal template today. We hope it helps.


The Success of 360 Degree Feedback Depends on Two Core Competencies

It is essential that everybody involved receives intensive training about how the process works. Two core competencies must be kept in mind when using the 360 degree feedback approach.

First: It is crucial that everybody approaches the process with the right attitude. On the one hand, you’ll have those providing feedback: They need to understand that the process is not about finding fault in their colleagues and highlighting their shortcomings. It’s much rather about constructive feedback.

To be able to provide this, feedback givers should identify and analyze their colleagues’ strengths and weaknesses. Which of their behaviors have delivered the best and poorest outcomes so far? The goal is to support colleagues’ professional and personal development by analyzing their weaknesses, above all. This is to ensure that their strengths can be deployed in a targeted manner, while their weaknesses can be minimized.

On the other hand, there are those who receive the feedback: They should be able to accept any negative feedback and see it as an opportunity to identify their weaknesses and then work to improve in these areas. Otherwise, a reproachful mood may spread, in which case the employee concerned will most likely respond negatively to the feedback and not take any positive action to address it. They might even leave your company.

Second: Be careful when you use 360 degree feedback. This method is not suitable for times of crisis or just before new positions are to be filled when people are working in small teams, as this increases the risk of getting skewed results. Why? Colleagues might be tempted to try and gain an advantage for themselves, or to give positive feedback on a colleague they are friends with, even though it is unjustified.

360 Degree Feedback As Part of Performance Management

In terms of performance management, 360 degree feedback establishes a sound basis, as it supports the holistic, objective assessment of employees’ performance. The approach is therefore particularly well suited to intensive, detailed employee reviews.

However, it is time-consuming, and it is therefore not feasible to apply it at regular, short intervals, e.g. every month. But this is precisely what’s required for good feedback: It must be regular, specific, and forward-looking. So, how can you ensure that performance reviews are consistent throughout the year? One means to achieve this is an approach to performance management that meets your employees’ needs.

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