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360 Degree Feedback Best Practices Guidelines

Editorial Team
21/08/2020 1:59 PM

What has happened in companies traditionally is that feedback is a one-way street. It cascades down from supervisors to subordinates but hardly ever the other way around. Feedback from co-workers and subordinates is something that one at times hears through the office grapevine- not the best of situations. More and more companies have started to realise the importance of all-round feedback through formal channels. According to Forbes, 85% of Fortune 500 companies are now implementing 360 Feedback - otherwise known as 360 Degree or Multi-rater Feedback. This article will be looking at 360 Degree feedback assessments and recommended best practices.

360 Degree Feedback
is a system or process in which employees receive confidential, anonymous
feedback from the people who work around them. The
earliest recorded use of 360-degree assessments is from the 1950s. 360 feedback
grew out of the use of a training method called “T-groups” or training groups.
Participants met with their peers who were encouraged to share feedback in an
open session facilitated by a trained moderator. Notably, before the
technological era, 360-degree feedback was a difficult process to administer.
The time and effort needed to collect paper forms, collate the data, and
produce a summary report was extensive and a significant barrier.

technological breakthroughs and automation in the process have meant that there
has been a significant uptake of the process. The data is collected via
respondents that include reporting manager, colleagues, and subordinates and in
some cases, clients too. The opinion and ratings from the participants are then
fed into the system to churn out comprehensible, actionable development

feedback program aims at solving multi-dimensional problems in an organization
ranging from employee engagement and attrition to development and succession
planning. Just like the full angle, 360-degree feedback software gives an
all-round report of an employee’s journey in the organization, his strengths,
challenges, roadblocks or any latent leadership potential that can be polished
with little training and effort. Single sourced feedback is rarely
comprehensive enough to be regarded as reliable. 360-degree feedback tool has
evolved into a very effective management tool in employee development. 

advantages that come with 360 Degree feedback are that;

  • Gives anonymity to junior employees to speak
  • Provides feedback to employees from a variety
    of sources
  • Develops and strengthens teamwork and
  • Uncovers procedural issues that can hinder
    employee growth
  • Reveals specific career development areas
  • Reduces rater bias and discrimination
  • Offers constructive feedback to improve
    employee outputs
  • Supplies insight on training needs

disadvantages that may come with 360 Degree feedback are that;

  • Can be time-consuming if the number of
    required appraisals is a lot
  • Causes organizational issues if implemented in
    a hasty or incomplete fashion
  • Prevents recipients from getting more
    information because the process is anonymous
  • Focuses on employee weaknesses and
    shortcomings instead of strengths

Executing a
360-degree assessment successfully requires buy-in from all stakeholders to
ensure maximum participation. Sensitizing members on what the process entails
is just one of the aspects that need to be addressed. Questions that should be
expected in the assessments by participants have to be tailored to the purpose
of the assessments. Are the assessments being done for evaluating problem-solving
skills? Leadership capabilities? Soft skills set? Current Management? These are
some of the aims that should be addressed beforehand.

Some typical
questions that can be found in 360-degree assessments as provided by careers
site Indeed.com are;

  • Does this employee take the initiative to seek
    clarification on things they don’t understand?
  • Does this employee proactively seek to understand
    the views and opinions of others?
  • Is this employee open to receiving feedback from
    supervisors and peers?
  • Do
    you believe this employee is honest, ethical and trustworthy?
  • Is
    this employee a good active listener?
  • Do the actions of this manager Inspire growth and
    development in others?
  • Is this manager able to resolve conflict appropriately?
  • Do you receive constructive and helpful feedback
    from this manager?
  • Has this employee shown the initiative to take the
    lead on team projects or assignments?
  • Do you believe this employee knows and represents
    our company’s goals and values?
  • Does this employee follow instructions to achieve
    the desired results?
  • Does this employee help create a culture that
    fosters and values collaboration?
  • Does this employee seek to improve by learning new
    skills and techniques?

practice would also be to add an extra section to accommodate any other
comments that a rater might need to put out, whether positive or negative. Most
360-degree assessment templates come with rating scales. The respondent can
answer any of the questions about how well an individual ranging from
unsatisfactory to excellent.

There are many benefits to 360 -degree feedback. However, a lot of 360 feedback projects can go wrong, which results in poor ROI and can give a bad impression of 360 feedback. The Harvard Business Review acknowledges that 360-degree assessments are as relevant to the work world as ever. However, in order for them to be a success some of the aspects that need to be handled correctly are:

  • They begin by measuring the right skills, relying on empirical research to determine which leadership competencies make a difference to the performance of their firm, rather than on some senior executive’s beliefs about what makes a good manager.
  • They take the time to properly explain, both to participants and to the people giving feedback about those participants, why they're going through the exercise and how the data will be used for the participant’s development.
  • They make certain and make it known, that there will be no breaches of confidentiality.
  • They create a survey that requires just 15 to 20 minutes to complete, to avoid the survey fatigue that tortuously long instruments cause.
  • They focus primarily on discovering strengths rather than use the process to uncover deficiencies. Yes, the process sometimes identifies major weaknesses that need to be taken seriously, but in our experience, these have been in the minority of cases.
  • They tailor the results to each individual and his or her position. Everyone doesn’t need to be good at the same things.
  • They present each person’s results in a way that enables them to digest them constructively and use the data to create a personal plan of development. They make the feedback report itself simple to read, presenting data in a graphical format that is easy to absorb.
  • They design a final report to help participants see how they compare to those in the top quartile and the top 10%. This elevates everyone’s aspirations. No one leaves feeling complacent about being slightly above average.
  • They include a mini-employee survey that shows managers the impact of their behaviour on their subordinates.

A 360-degree
feedback program can be a powerful way of helping employees grow within their
organization. Used successfully, it's a tool that increases engagement,
identifies training opportunities and helps employees develop in their own role
and go on to succeed in a leadership role.

Vanessa Machingauta is a consultant with Industrial Psychology Consultants, a
business management and HR consulting firm.

Editorial Team

This article was written by one of the consultants at IPC

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