Understand the benefits and impact of 360 feedback, and learn how to create your own 360 feedback process with PeopleGoal's comprehensive guide.
To word it simply, 360° feedback is a process of feedback where the employee is rated by members of their organization, across all levels of seniority using surveys or forms. Feedback is gained from subordinates, peers, managers, supervisors and senior leaders. The goal is to get feedback from different sources about performance and areas of improvement.
360◦ feedback is a development tool for individuals and organizations to shed light on gaps in their knowledge and skills, but also to highlight their strengths and weaknesses. It provides people with what has gone well in the past, and what needs to get better in the future.
Jack Zenger, a globally recognized and respected expert on organizational behavior regards 360° feedback as…
"...the value of 360° feedback as a central part of leadership development programs. It’s a practical way to get a large group of leaders in an organization to be comfortable with receiving feedback from direct reports, peers, bosses, and other groups. Once leaders begin to see the huge value to be gained, in fact, we see them add other groups to their raters such as suppliers, customers, or those two levels below them in the organization."
According to research by Forbes, 85% of Fortune 500 companies use 360° feedback. They obviously recognize this tool as an important feature in their feedback process. Here are some case examples from top companies and how they use 360° feedback:
In 2016, Goldman Sachs announced shifting their feedback approach from a traditional approach to a more flexible, 360° approach. Goldman Sachs have implemented a system which involves feedback from all levels of the organization. They say the new performance method would rely on ‘high quality and ongoing feedback’ and that 360° feedback will improve their employee’s performance.
General Electrics uses a 360° review process and awards numerical rankings to feedback examples. Employees are ranked on items such as quality, achieving goals and meeting deadlines. Jack Welch once said that he implemented a feedback system to split people into three groups: the top 20%, the middle 70% and the bottom 10%. He uses this data to:
“take "the top 20 percent of employees and make them feel loved - take the middle 70 percent and tell them what they need to do to get into the top 20 percent”.
Facebook conduct biannual 360 feedback reviews which focus on development. They use the buzzword ‘impact’ in their reviews, focusing on two main questions: What impact has the employee had since the last review? How can they increase their impact going forward?
Netflix ended their relationship with traditional annual reviews, instead shifting to 360 feedback reviews when they began asking their employees to:
“identify things that colleagues should stop, start or continue”
Patty McCord (former Chief Talent Officer)
Let’s go over some of the key reasons why feedback is so important. If you want to find out why these reasons are important in more depth, check out this blog.
Feedback is a method to try and help individuals in the future. It is constructive and geared towards developing the individual.
Feedback is a time where you can gauge gaps in the employee’s knowledge and encourage them to reveal areas where they may have deficits where they can improve.
Research intakes that employees can become not engaged or even worse, actively disengaged when they receive little or no feedback. They want recognition for good work, and they want to know what they should be doing better.
Feedback represents an opportunity for a manager to engender a positive relationship with their employees. Further, 360° offers an opportunity for relationships between colleagues to develop as it opens up communication channels between employees.
Feedback is an opportunity to motivate employees to do better. Give them a vision of what they are capable of achieving and help them elucidate the path to get there.
Feedback helps along the whole process of development. Initial feedback stages can help elucidate the ambitions of the employee whilst also gauging whereabouts they are currently. Feedback post this initial stage helps to guide the employee along the way, finding out showrtfalls in their knowledge and finding out where they may need training, learning and development.
So, we’ve told you about the importance of 360° feedback, but what about the advantages and potential disadvantages of this feedback method?
Evidence from the literature regarding the effectiveness of 360° feedback in enhancing performance has indicated that when feedback is designed, implemented and carried out in a professional and apt manner, then it can have numerous beneficial effects. Here are some of the benefits:
A fairly simple one to begin with. 360° feedback is an especially powerful feedback tool as it leads to a higher level of self-awareness in employees. Due to having varied input from a range of disciplines, self-awareness in the employee is likely to be at a more salient level.
360° feedback is particularly useful for identifying development opportunities for employees and it helps to discover areas of improvement or where their strengths lie. It also helps towards the creation of development activities that are more specific to the employee. Feedback helps in bridging the gap between what employees think of themselves and others opinion of them.
With the inherent feature of 360° feedback is the high level of transparency. Because of this increased transparency it is easier to address feedback in a constructive manner, without the fear of retaliation. A culture of openness is one where employees, peers, managers and subordinates are upfront about their opinions.
“As feedback results are delivered and discussed among team members, things become more transparent.”
360° feedback processes provide employees and their supervisors alike with the knowledge of apparent skills gap. This type of review process gives a varied perspective on areas where the employee can improve and ways of tackling these issues. As a whole, this helps individual professional development and address organizational deficits.
Arguably the biggest benefit of 360° feedback is that it collects said feedback from multiple sources. This in turn allows for a greater scope of perspective and increased likelihood of greater accuracy. This also increases the likelihood that a developmental area will not be overlooked.
The level of transparency and anonymity that you apply to your 360° feedback process, is of course up to you. However, it is important to consider the implications they might have. With increasing levels of transparency comes the increased risk that employees may not feel comfortable providing the feedback that they truly feel, instead choosing feedback which the recipient wants to hear.
Linking very well to the previous point, 360° feedback can be hampered by the level of honesty. As with other appraisal processes there are natural biases which can affect the validity of the review. The value of feedback here, is only as good as its honesty. Anonymity is inexplicably linked to honest here.
Inevitably, some feedback will be met with hostility, and instead of taking feedback constructively, employees may greet feedback with stoic defense. Instead of focusing on the crux of the feedback issues, employees may look to instead say: ‘who said what’. No one likes to hear criticisms of themselves, you must make sure that the feedback is provided in a correct and constructive manner.
Although issues with 360° feedback include honesty, previously we have described this with a positive outlook. However, some employees may see 360° feedback as an opportunity to express a grudge. In this instance, damaging comments may be given to an employee. When this does happen, one employee will need reprimanding, while the other employee may want coaching in order to be able learn from this experience. Regardless, strong leadership is needed.
One of the key components of 360° feedback is that it takes multiple different perspectives and viewpoints. Particularly for smaller organizations this may throw up a potential issue, as it will be difficult to garner a full 360° view. For the tool to work at an optimal level there needs to be at least 5 reviewers, preferably coming from different disciplines.
Some have argued that the roots of 360° feedback lie with the German military in World War II. Soldiers were not just evaluated by their superiors, but also by their peers and subordinates. The concept was geared to improving performance by providing valuable insights from a range of sources. Supposedly the American army used a similar process in World War II, however, feedback did not include the appraisals of subordinates. Nonetheless, both tied the grade of appraisal to reward, promotions and compensation.
With respect to documented history, 360° feedback can be found in the 1950’s at the Esso Research and Engineering Company. From here, 360° feedback rapidly grew, gaining traction up until the 1990’s with most HR professionals having a firm grasp on the concept. However, a problem arose with the capabilities of technology at the time. Feedback reports were largely paper driven, involving manual calculations and lengthy delays. This culminated in the decline of classical 360° feedback reviews via the reduction in rater interest and the scorn of the feedback representative.
But with the rise of the internet came the rebirth of 360° feedback. Reports were easily creatable and accessible online. The introduction of personal computers allowed 360° Feedback data to be analyzed and presented with increased accuracy and at a much larger volume.
Further still, online software is now a staple in many businesses which can provide real time, 360° feedback for everyone to give and receive feedback. The popularity of 360° feedback has grown rapidly in the new millennium and reports suggest that an extremely high proportion of Fortune500 companies have implemented some form of 360° feedback process.
The results are then collected and analyzed to produce easily readable data. You can choose to present your report in qualitative or graphical form, or a mix of both.
The recipient can then review either the report individually, or with the help of their manager or a trained facilitator for the full effect. This can help by guiding and encouraging the recipient to take on board the details of the report.
Here’s a condensed process model of the feedback from the start to finish!
You might also want to have a look at how the PeopleGoal platform can help you conduct a 360° feedback review and the process model that it takes.
The importance of the process lies in the way that you get a balanced feedback view because of the input originating from various sources rather than only one source (usually the manager). It can be argued that this holds even more value in modern workplaces where some employees are working remotely. Therefore, a manager may not be the best person to provide feedback on an individual as they may have had more contact with other colleagues.
By welcoming individuals who you work intimately with and who have a lot of opportunities to observe the way you work, you're progressively guaranteed of getting important, all around educated developmental criticism. Also, when followed up on, this can demonstrate an powerful impetus for self-improvement.
Though a conventional performance review will concentrate on what you've accomplished, 360 degree feedback is about how you work. It very well may be especially successful in helping you to improve key 'soft' or transferable abilities, for example, leadership, communication, and collaboration.
Let employees know the purpose of 360° feedback before beginning the process. Communicate how the process occurs and the role that employees have in it. Provide details of what you expect and how employees can best provide feedback.
Consider the number of people that will be involved in providing feedback. Further, consider who you want providing feedback. 360° feedback permeates through all levels of seniority in the organization. 360° feedback surveys involve more of the organization in terms of providing feedback.
Everyone is different, and every organization isn’t the same. Feedback survey questions should be tailored to specific areas you want to measure and potentially improve.
Provide detail in your points, act professionally and respectfully when providing feedback. This is not a forum for banter, pettiness or a character assassination. Provide feedback with a degree of emotional intelligence so as to balance out giving apt and reasoned judgement with making said feedback constructive and actionable.
Make sure that the feedback you provide is honest and give examples to back up your points. Don’t think you need to be too nice to your colleague. A feedback review is a time for open and honest discussion. But make sure not to be overly harsh either for the obvious negative connotations which come with this.
Base your feedback on your own personal experience and opinion, not that of someone else or the gossip you hear around the office.
Obviously an imperative feature. Feedback is an evidence-based process. Making feedback off a whim or general emotion is a detrimental way of going about things.
You might not like the feedback, you might not agree with it. But it is important to present yourself with professionalism. Feedback is there to benefit you and to discover potential development areas.
This can be both independently, with a peer or with a manager. Reflect upon the feedback you’ve been given. Identify deficits I knowledge and performance areas and think about how you can fill these gaps going forward.
You need to accept the feedback. Keep your emotions and curiosity in check, don’t start trying to work out who provided what feedback etc. Accept your feedback, recognize the attributed evidence and consider areas where you can improve.
We’re not just trying to bombard you with information about 360 feedback, we’re also here to give you a helping hand when conducting your feedback. Here are some feedback statements you may want to integrate into your process:
If you’re looking for more personnel type-based feedback questions, we’ve come up with a few more feedback statements to use in your 360° process.
The last statement fits quite well when thinking about providing your employees with positive feedback. It is important to provide your employee with recognition and positivity when they complete a task to a high standard. Positive feedback is a sure way to ingrain positive actions within your workplace. This is due to its ability to make employees feel valued and connected to the team as they are a contributor in an organizations' activities.
Moreover, it provides meaning to a job which increases engagement and productivity. On the most extreme end of affairs, employees that feel valued and find meaning in their work are less likely to leave. However, not everyone knows how to give positive feedback, or to be more succinct; constructive positive feedback. So, here is a couple of tips for giving effective feedback, followed up with some examples you yourself could use in the office.
Issues surrounding encouraging employee participation with feedback processes lie in two distinct areas: communication and trust in the organization.
So how do you encourage your employees to give feedback? Here are the best ways to ease out feedback from your employees:
A common issue that arises is that employees just don't know that it is there! And of course, how can they engage with something, without the knowledge of it's existence.
Providing feedback can actually be quite a confusing and therefore challenging task for employees who may not know the best ways of structuring said feedback. Change this by providing training in the area. It doesn't have to be workshops, try a training pack or document.
For feedback to really work, something needs to be done about it. Employees need to see that their employers care abobut their voice (a key ingredient in engagement).
Model want you want to see. Show the employees what you want from them by doing it yourself! Start with the leadership team. Display the processes you want to instill and this will automatically help employees to buy into the process.
Often, there is a sense of discomfort surrounding the potential outcomes of feedback. The employee may not be sure what may come back to bite them with respect to negative feedback. Will the feedback I provide result in some form of punishment or mighten I be called out unfairly? You must provide employees with answers to their questions.
An essential part of 360° feedback! Encourage employees to give and recieve feedback with peers!
360 degree feedback is best utilized as a personal development process whereby respondents can give input to the recipient which they might not have felt open to giving in another environment. The result is that feedback recipients are educated as to how their colleagues view their performance, empowering them to alter their practices or build up their abilities accordingly.
It should shape some portion of the performance review process retrospectively, yet shouldn't be utilized to measure performance as its key focus is on behavioural competencies rather than performance objectives and job requirements.
By default, 360-degree feedback is anonymous. There are a few good reasons for this, including:
However, you do not always have to make your 360 feedback process anonymous as it can come with some hindrances such as:
Helps colleagues or customers
“Great job helping others. The concise way you present the process has hugely helped the team to learn. You’ve saved them probably a weeks worth of work, and now they don’t have to keep asking questions in front of customers.”
Makes things easier for you
“Thank you for taking the lead on the presentation today. I really appreciate you taking the initiative to conduct the market research behind the project. Your ability to take an extra step really freed up some time for me to work on the logistics.”
Models a team value you want encourage
“You smashed the job today, and clearly showed the rest of the team the values we are looking for. The way you stepped up, yet included everyone in the activity, is the kind of inclusion that’ll help us work better as a team.”
“I was aware you snapped at one of our clients the other day. Although I understand it can be difficult when you're dealing with an irritable client, you need to remember that the client always come first. Perhaps we should schedule a meeting to go through the different situations you may face and how you could handle them better in the future?”
“I’ve noticed a disparity in your work habits and results over the past month. I’ve witnessed how productive you usually are, so I wanted to touch base with you and see if there was anything you're finding difficult that I can assist you with?”
Divulge the reason and process of the 360 degree feedback
Tell workers the planned reason and process for the 360 degree feedback before sending out the questions. It regularly assists with giving a 360 degree feedback definition so workers are educated around the motivation behind the surveys.
Utilize a 360 degree input pilot gathering
Utilizing a pilot group preceding the organisation wide rollout has a few benefits. It takes into consideration refinement of the procedure and of the instrument itself. Numerous potential issues are immediately distinguished that would have been wide-spread in any case. Secondly, the pilot members can go about as champions to advance the 360 feedback process all through the remainder of the organisation.
Keep the 360 degree feedback surveys short
Plan a 360 feedback survey that is short enough that it can be given the attention it deserves without taking up too much time. We have seen this as around 5-10 questions. The shorter the survey, the more able employees are to take the time expected to provide precise data.
Utilize a tweaked 360 degree criticism overview
360 degree feedback surveys for development ought to incorporate questions geared at behaviour (the how), while annual reviews can concentrate more on execution (the what). 360 survey questions ought to mirror these distinctions in design. Know that most off-the-shelf surveys are intended for formative use, not for developmental use. Therefore it is highly beneficial to utilise software to customise your process.
There is no concise list or way to know for certain, however given the anecdotal evidence gained through the multitude of articles published over the years, it seems likely that almost all Fortune 1000 companies have in some way shape or form implemented 360 degree feedback.
Using 360-degree input can be effective in a group domain to develop self-awareness and transparency in communications, sharing, and expanded clearness towards anticipated objectives and behaviours. Implementing a formal 360-degree feedback procedure ought not be trifled with. Or maybe, to be effective, leaders need to think about components of the group, subtleties of the process, and the long-term goals and exercises expected to support the benefits. By and large, a well designed 360-degree feedback process can prompt an improvement in performance and productivity.
Giving your boss feedback is not always easy. However scary it may seem, you should view it as an opportunity to improve work management, and to communicate any concerns you may have that your boss may not have noticed. You should try to realise that your boss is also an employee, who wants to maximise potential, and part in parcel of this is being able to receive feedback. You can always provide feedback anonymously.
Upwards Feedback Examples
“They help others achieve their goals.”
“They align employees' focus towards a common goal.”
“They build good interpersonal relationships.”
“They are excellent in generating a good team dynamic.”
“They are firm when appropriate.”
“They deal with difficult situations well.”
“They offer appropriate and timely recognition.
“They work well in high pressured situations.”
“They work well in a team dynamic.”
“They are innovative and generate new ideas.”
“They are well organized and timely.”
“They interact well with others and find it easy to build good interpersonal relationships.”
“They want to continuously develop their skills repertoire.”
In order to provide good feedback, you will need to channel these qualities when possible:
1. Ask for permission
This can be in person or online, just to allow the recipient to mentally prepare for any positive or negative feedback.
2. Put forward your observations
State what you have observed, being subjective and specific, such as, “I’ve noticed you have been slow at replying to emails this week.”
3. Explain the impact
Explain how this has affected yourself, the team, or work in general by being specific yet non confrontational, such as, “With the emails being slow, I feel that our sales are reducing."
4. Wait for a reaction
Allow the recipient to digest your comments and react to them, they may have a simple answer and solution straight away.
5. Suggest an action
Give some small actionable steps the recipient can take to get back on track and change their behaviour. They will appreciate that you are giving them the first step to improve.
Constructive feedback is supportive feedback given to employees to help distinguish solutions for areas of shortcoming they may have. In this way, it accompanies positive intentions and is utilized as a supportive communication proces to address specific issues or concerns.
What are the key features of constructive feedback?
Constructive feedback focuses on:
Can constructive feedback be positive?
Constructive feedback can be positive. Nobody is perfect or knows everything there is to know. Constructive feedback is crucial to the development or businesses. It is the delivery that counts. When giving constructive feedback, you should aim to support it with positive feedback, or if you can’t to that, highlight the positives that will come about if action is taken in response to the constructive feedback.
We suggest that quarterly intervals are generally suitable for repeating a 360-degree feedback process. This permits individuals to work through their developmental and action plans and to improve their performance while keeping ongoing feedback revelant and timely.
There are several benefits associated with utilizing 360-degree feedback within a team environment. When used effectively, 360-degree feedback can increase communication, foster employee development, and increase productivity and efficiency on a team.
Positive: applies to circumstances where an individual worked admirably; may comprise of a simple congratulations, yet it's considerably more effective if you highlight specifics.
Constructive: features how an individual could improve next time; should be conveyed delicately. Utilize the Action-Impact-Desired Outcome (AID) model; center around observable facts, not assumed traits. This can be delivered in a sandwhich model of a positive, a negative, and another positive.
Negative: portrays an apparent negative conduct, without proposing a resolution – is basically destructive and is typically used to end an employment.
So, there you have it. The essential guide to 360 feedback. Of course, we probably haven’t fitted in more niche research, or certain trends that are appearing in this type of feedback. Maybe you don’t agree with certain aspects of this guide, maybe you think we’ve missed something. If that’s the case don’t hesitate, let us know. We hope we’ve given you a good overview of the topic and enthused you to go out and read more. 360° feedback has seen a resurgence in the last few years and is a great tool to use when trying to generate authentic, honest and balanced feedback. Perhaps you want to integrate an element of 360° into your feedback process. Perhaps you like the peer-to-peer element. Whatever it is, we’re here to help!