What do we mean when we talk about 360 degree feedback?


360-degree feedback

What is 360 degree feedback?

360 degree feedback is a comprehensive performance evaluation method that gathers input from multiple perspectives surrounding an individual. It entails gathering feedback from various sources, including superiors, subordinates, peers, and sometimes external stakeholders. This provides a holistic assessment of an individual’s skills, behaviours, and performance. The approach aims to offer a well-rounded view of the individual’s strengths, areas for improvement, and developmental opportunities. The feedback typically covers a range of competencies, behaviours, and values relevant to the individual’s role and responsibilities. The process, when well managed encourages self-awareness, promotes professional growth, and fosters transparent communication within organisations.

Why is it called 360 degree feedback?

When we discuss 360 degree feedback, we refer to a structured and objective process for obtaining quantitative and qualitative feedback from a range of sources. As someone who manages others, these sources typically include; your own manager “upwards,” your direct reports “downwards,” and your peers or perhaps customers “sideways”. Thus, the term ‘360 degree feedback’ describes the collection of feedback from all around you. Sources of feedback can vary, the key is to ensure that they are relevant to the purpose of the feedback exercise and have had enough interaction with you to be able to provide relevant feedback.

What is the feedback based on?

360 degree feedback
Simple and intuitive software designed to easily manage a 360 feedback process.

Ideally, these different sources will answer a series of 20-30 behavioural questions, reflecting their experiences or observations of working with the individual. These questions aim to make the feedback as objective and valid as possible, focusing on actions or statements you have made. It is helpful when questions are categorised into relevant competencies, values, or topic areas as this may provide clusters of relative strengths or development areas. Examples of categories for a people manager could include: Managing performance, Engaging staff or Building a team. Categories for a senior leader might include: Strategic Thinking, Managing Change or Commerical Orientation. The categories and the questions need to be relevant to the role and seniority of the individual.

Sample questions or rather statements to be rated might include: Sets clear goals and objectives; Provides regular feedback or Demonstrates fairness and impartiality. Again, the questions/statements need to be relevant to the category and the role of the individual currently or aspirationally if the purpose is career development. You can access a comprehensive directory of statements to use in your own 360-degree process here:

Download free 360-degree feedback question directory

Each respondent will then rate these statements using a quantitative scale. Such as 1-Never demonstrates to 5-Always or consistently demonstrates. The ratings focus on whether the respondent has observed or experienced a behaviour rather than whether they agree or disagree with the statement. This approach fosters constructive feedback. Ideally, there is also the opportunity for free text responses to provide context to any ratings.

360 degree feedback reports

The scores are then sorted into representative groups. In the image above you can see an example of the bar chart where the individual’s response and the manager’s response are at the top. While other scores are grouped together and anonymised. At Actus, we encourage a minimum of 3 responses from sources other than the individual or line manager. This is done to protect anonymity and encourage openness and honesty. The exception to this is the line manager and the individual themselves, whose responses are usually separately identifiable. Separating the 360-degree feedback heatmapsources and categorising the questions helps to visually demonstrate trends which makes the report far easier to interpret. If there is a discrepancy between the feedback from different sources, this can be visually identified and explored during the feedback session.

Actus 360 NOW

Our Actus 360 NOW software is pre-configured to support this setup. This includes a helpful summary spider graph as you can see above and ready-to-go reports that include a heatmap like the one to the right showing areas of strength or development. These are captured in the built-in development plan. Although the report is clear and self-explanatory, we highly recommend offering coaching alongside. This is to ensure the individual takes a rounded view of the feedback and gets the most out of the development opportunity.

Would you would like to know more about how to use 360-feedback in your organisation? We have many free resources that you can access. Why not start by downloading our free eBook below?

The Complete Guide to 360 degree feedback

Contact us below for an overview of how Actus 360 NOW can support you.

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