The World of Work Project

360 Degree Feedback

360 Degree Feedback is the process by which an individual receives feedback from a large and varied population of stakeholders including their leadership, their peers and those working for them.

Summary by The World of Work Project

360 Degree Feedback

The concept of 360 degree feedback is simply that people should seek feedback from as wide of a range of people as possible to ensure they get a clear reflection on how they are performing and how they are being perceived.

Practically, 360 degree feedback usually means asking for feedback not just from the person you work for, but also from your peer group, the people that work for you and perhaps your customers and your suppliers. In some instances, the individual seeking feedback may ask for it directly themselves, in other instances their line-manager or similar may ask for it.

360 degree feedback is usually completed as part of a performance management cycle, typically in line with half and full year appraisals. In some instances, feedback may also be obtained from a range of wider parties including internal customers and suppliers.

The 360 feedback process

Feedback may be requested by the individual or by their line manager, and may be provided back either directly to the individual or their manager. In larger organizations there are often bespoke feedback tools (digital forms) that help coordinate this type of feedback. Smaller organizations can find similar tools that they too can use through a range of suppliers, though it’s not too complicated to create your own tools for smaller populations.

The process should not be complicated, and the pen should be the right way around…

Regardless of whether you’re in a large or small organization, the 360 feedback process is usually fairly simple. Most 360 feedback requests have a limited number of questions are are easy to use. Questions will typically be along the line of: please provide feedback on one thing the individual should start doing, on they should stop doing and one they should continue doing (the Stop, Start, Continue model). Of course, any form of question can be used for this process.

The World of Work Project View

360 degree feedback is great in theory. It makes perfect sense for individuals to gather feedback from all around them so they can develop an accurate sense of their performance, understand their relationships with their stakeholders and identify both strengths and development areas to work on.

In practice though, most organizations don’t have high enough levels of trust to use 360 degree feedback effectively (everyone is too nice to each other). In addition, development and performance management are almost always conflated, meaning that 360 degree feedback ceases to be used for development, where it’s actually helpful, and instead becomes used by individuals and leaders as a way to evidence performance. There is a risk that 360 degree feedback simply becomes an administrative burden for teams and organizations and that it provides little real value.

So our summary is, this is nice in theory and if it’s driven for personal development, but it often falls down in practice.

Sources and further reading

Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.

This post is based on our experiences in the world of work and we have no specific references to direct readers towards, though we are aware there are many articles available on this topic. Please let us know if you think this topic should be attributed to someone specific.


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