Understand the Fundamentals of 360-degree Feedback Program

Posted by Yen Phuong Nguyen on

A 360-degree feedback program is a tool, a program, a method to evaluate one’s behaviour and performance. The process draws in feedback from your supervisors, direct reports, peers, subordinates, and even customers. The process provides a complete overview of how an individual is behaving professionally, hence the "360-degree" name.

The 360-degree process is an extremely useful tool to strengthen your talent management strategy and to properly develop employees utilising insights drawn from the feedback process, such as the employee's current skills, behaviours, values, and whether their performance fits with the organisation’s overall visions, cultures, and goals.

Read more: Performance review - Which method is right for your enterprise?

What is 360-degree feedback?

What is a 360-degree feedback program, and how does it work?

The format varies from company to company and depends on the position of the person being rated. In general, 360-degree feedback requires you to fill out a review form yourself, and another set of review questions is given to your colleagues, supervisors, etc.

Once done, all data are compiled and analysed to learn about the differences in perspectives. The process can be done either quantitatively (rating scales, scorings…) or qualitatively (detailed comments).

Feedback given in the 360-degree method is kept anonymous and encourages participants to be unbiased and to share true and useful information.

Read more: Duplicating your top employees

Benefits of utilising a 360-degree feedback program

The 360-degree tool is a practical way to grasp the attention of not only your employees but also everyone in the organisation. It is beneficial to the individuals as well as to a team and to the organisation as a whole.

1. Improve the quality of your review

The beauty of aggregating inputs from various sources lies in the richness and depth it brings to the evaluation. Each perspective offers a unique vantage point, shedding light on different aspects of an individual's work.

Supervisors, with their deep understanding of organisational goals, can provide valuable insights into how an employee's performance aligns with the overall strategy. Co-workers, on the other hand, offer a front-line view of collaboration and teamwork, highlighting strengths and areas for improvement. And let's not forget the customers, whose feedback can be a true testament to the impact an individual has on the success of the business.

This is possible through anonymity and confidentiality in the feedback process, which helps encourage honest and open responses from raters. When raters know that their feedback will not be directly linked to them, they may feel more comfortable providing unbiased and constructive feedback. This helps create a safer environment for addressing potential biases without fear of repercussions.

Furthermore, 360-degree feedback typically emphasises evaluating specific behaviours and competencies rather than making judgements based on personal characteristics. By focusing on observable actions and performance indicators, the feedback process directs attention away from subjective biases related to gender, race, age, or other protected characteristics.

Recipients and raters should also be trained on unconscious bias and discrimination to increase awareness and sensitivity. Proper training can help participants understand the impact of biases and discrimination in the workplace, promote fair evaluation, and encourage constructive feedback based on merit and performance.

However, while 360-degree feedback can help minimise unconscious bias and discrimination, it is not a standalone solution. Organisations should complement it with other diversity and inclusion initiatives, such as bias awareness training, inclusive policies, and fostering a supportive and inclusive work culture.

2. Encourage individual growth

Well-rounded feedback and ratings from multiple sources, including the employee’s co-workers and other people they regularly collaborate with, can provide managers with a more in-depth understanding of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses. This diverse range of perspectives allows managers to gain valuable insights into the employee's performance, work ethic, interpersonal skills, and more.

By gathering feedback from various sources, managers can utilise this valuable information to develop personalised plans and strategies to bridge potential gaps in the employee's skills and knowledge. These targeted development opportunities can further enhance each individual's professional growth.

Furthermore, by incorporating feedback from different sources, managers can gain a more objective and well-rounded perspective, reducing the potential for bias and ensuring fair evaluations. This comprehensive approach not only enhances individual growth but also promotes a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture.

3. Improve team development

Team members know more about each other's performance than their supervisor does. Therefore, feedback obtained from these personnel plays a critical role in team communication and development. When team members have the opportunity to provide feedback on their colleagues' performance, it not only strengthens communication within the team but also fosters a sense of collaboration and support.

Involving team members in the feedback process allows for a more holistic and accurate assessment of each individual's strengths and areas for improvement. Team members can provide valuable insights into their colleagues' work ethic, problem-solving skills, and interpersonal dynamics. This feedback can help identify any gaps or challenges that may be hindering the team's overall performance.

Read more: KPIs - The key to identify your top performers

Moreover, when team members are given the opportunity to provide feedback, it empowers them and encourages a culture of open communication and continuous improvement. It creates a safe space for team members to share their observations, suggestions, and concerns, which can lead to more effective teamwork and problem-solving.

In addition, involving team members in the feedback process can also enhance their own professional development. By actively participating in the evaluation of their colleagues, team members can develop a deeper understanding of what constitutes effective performance and the skills required for success in their roles. This increased awareness can inspire them to strive for excellence and seek opportunities for growth within the team.

4. Identify learning and development needs

360-degree feedback is a powerful tool that allows C-level managers and executives to gain valuable insights into their employees' performance and identify specific areas that may require additional training within the company.

What sets 360-degree feedback apart from traditional supervisory feedback is its reflective and validating nature. While feedback from a supervisor alone can be helpful, it may lack a broader perspective. The multi-rater process allows C-level managers and executives to see themselves through the eyes of those they work closely with, gaining a deeper understanding of their impact on the organisation as a whole.

By highlighting specific areas that need improvement, 360-degree feedback becomes a valuable tool for personal and organisational growth. It enables C-level managers and executives to identify their own blind spots and take proactive steps towards further training or coaching. This not only benefits their own professional development but also contributes to the overall performance of the organisation.

Moreover, the insights gained from 360-degree feedback can also inform the design of necessary courses to enhance the organisation's collective performance. By pinpointing areas for improvement across the teams, companies can tailor training programs to address specific needs and foster a culture of continuous learning and development.

The program is a great way to identify needs for further training or coaching which is beneficial for both personal and organisational development.

Read more: Build, retain and develop your sales force

5. Build a culture of candour

360-degree feedback can encourage a more open, communicative work environment and morale among employees, regardless of their levels, by allowing them to freely express their opinions. When employees feel comfortable expressing their perspectives and ideas, it creates a work environment where innovative thinking flourishes.

Furthermore, this feedback process gives employees a clearer understanding of how their performances are being observed and recognised within an organisation, thus giving them a sense of empowerment.

Empowerment is a key aspect of building a culture of candour, and 360-degree feedback plays a significant role in this. When employees know that their opinions and contributions matter and are valued by the organisation, it boosts their confidence and motivation. This sense of empowerment fuels their passion and dedication towards their work, leading to improved morale and overall satisfaction.

6. Identify developmental needs at the individual and organisational level

The review process allows employers to identify any obstacles or challenges that may be impeding the smooth collaboration between employees and teams.

It is not uncommon for conflicts, communication gaps, or a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities to arise. 360-degree feedback can shed light on these issues and provide an opportunity for swift resolution.

By examining the feedback, employers can also uncover how company policies and procedures impact their employees' work. It is important to ensure that the enforced rules and regulations are not hindering productivity or creating unnecessary barriers.

Sometimes, policies may unintentionally create bottlenecks or prevent employees from reaching their full potential. With the insights gained from the 360-degree feedback, companies can make informed decisions and necessary adjustments to improve overall efficiency and effectiveness.

7. Align the individual's goals with the organisation’s goals

360-degree feedback is valuable in helping employees understand and adjust their goals to align with the organisation's goals, ensuring that the entire team is moving in suitable directions.

The feedback received from different sources can shed light on any goal misalignment that may exist. For example, feedback from peers or supervisors might indicate that certain goals or behaviours are not fully in line with the organisation's strategic direction. This feedback prompts employees to reevaluate their goals and make necessary adjustments.

Based on the feedback received, employees can make informed changes to their goals and priorities. They can identify areas where their goals need to be modified to better align with the organisation's objectives. This might involve refining specific objectives, revising timelines, or even setting entirely new goals that contribute more effectively to the overall team and organisational goals.

Additionally, 360-degree feedback enhances employees' understanding of the organisation's goals and expectations. Feedback from supervisors and other stakeholders provides clarity on what is valued and desired in terms of individual contributions. Armed with this understanding, employees can align their personal goals more closely with the organisation's goals, ensuring they are moving in suitable directions.

Aligning individual goals with the organisation's goals leads to improved performance. It allows employees to focus their efforts on activities that contribute directly to the team's success. Clear goal alignment also facilitates better resource allocation, decision-making, and collaboration within the team, as everyone understands how their contributions fit into the bigger picture.

Moreover, when individual goals are aligned with the organisation's goals, it fosters a sense of shared purpose and unity within the team. Employees understand how their contributions fit into the broader objectives, which promotes collaboration and cooperation towards common goals. This alignment strengthens teamwork and enhances the team's ability to work synergistically, ultimately driving the organisation's success.

Reasons why your 360-degree feedback program fails

It is possible that the 360-degree feedback program implemented at your organisation does not yield the positive results that you are looking for. If you approach it haphazardly just because you see the competitor is using it, or someone you know is using it, the program will bring disaster and take a long while to recover.

Following are the potential problems that may arise during your 360-degree feedback process:

  • You do not receive any response from the Manager(s) or they disregard the importance of giving feedback. The effectiveness of the results is lessened if you miss the comments you’re your direct supervisors. He or she needs to understand that these feedbacks are helpful to you and the team as well.
  • The questions used in the reviewing process are too vague. Which aspect(s) of the employee’s performance do you want to concentrate on (leadership, motivation, problem-solving, etc.)? Do the results give you actionable information?
  • No follow-up plan post-review, or if there is a follow-up plan, it only happens once. Behavioural changes take time and effort, therefore, you need to revisit the plan periodically to remind yourself. Remember, the 360-degree feedback is only useful if it is acted upon.
  • When the weaknesses outweigh the strengths. More often than not, we tend to focus on what we lack and forget what we are good at. For a 360-degree feedback to be effective, it needs to align with your organisation’s strategic aims. Hence, you need to make sure that everyone involved understands the importance of giving objective and honest feedback.

Read more: Development - This is not an event... It's a journey!

360-degree feedback program is a positive addition to your performance review system if implemented with care and clear instructions. To further simplify your reviewing process, there are various 360-degree solutions already available on the market today with colour-coded and easy-to-read charts and graphs that help you save both time and effort. Most importantly, the feedbacks are guaranteed to be kept confidential.  

To learn more about the 360-degree feedback tool and how it can help boost the growth of your team, visit the TRG Talent page or request a free demo today!

Request leadership development demo

Topics: Talent Management

Upcoming TRG Events

Latest Posts

Most Viewed Posts

Our Editorial Mission

rick yvanovich resized 174

 Rick Yvanovich
 /Founder & CEO/

With TRG International Blogs, it is our mission to be your preferred partner providing solutions that work and we will make sure to guide your business to greatness every day.

Subscribe to TRG Blog

Follow Us