360 degree feedback in performance reviews

October 1, 2021

One of the more challenging elements of management is employee performance evaluation. Implementing a 360 feedback system can be a great way to facilitate and improve the appraisal process.

Performing regular performance reviews is crucial, both from a business perspective and for the sake of each employee's professional development. Over the years, the trend in appraisal has been to move from a traditional command and control model to one that is more distributed and collaborative. The most effective models promote self-directed work and self-leadership and give people discretion on when, where, how they carry out their tasks. This means that when evaluating performance, the appraisal should be based on actual work people have been doing. 360 degrees are a great tool for measuring performance, and 360 feedback processes are becoming increasingly popular.

Related reading: The best employee survey questions – what to ask and why

Table of Contents 

  1. What is 360-degree feedback?

  2. What is the purpose of 360-degree feedback?

  3. 360-degree feedback surveys as a tool for people development 

What is 360-degree feedback?

360 Degree Feedback is a process where employees receive anonymous feedback from the people who work around them. This can include both the employee's manager, but also peers and direct reports. Usually, the feedback forms include a questionnaire with both a rating scale and room for written comments. The employee receiving feedback also fills out a self-rating survey, including the same questions that others receive in their forms.

Put simply, 360-degree feedback allows team members, managers, and colleagues to all give their own feedback on an individual.

What is the purpose of 360-degree feedback?

360 reviews can be used for different purposes and in different ways. It can be part of a formal performance review or appraisal process. It can be a way to create internal benchmarks. Or it can be used to create a feedback mechanism for coaching purposes. 

Managers and leaders can use 360 feedback surveys to understand their strengths and weaknesses better. The format of a 360 feedback survey tabulates the results and presents them in a way that helps the recipient create a logical development plan. Responses are presented together with all answers in the same rater category to preserve anonymity and provide a clear picture of overall strengths and areas for improvement.

360 degree feedback surveys as a tool for people development

360 feedback is not just for managers and leaders. They can also be a very valuable development tool for people who are not in management roles. Strictly speaking, it will not be a "complete" 360 assessment since there are no direct reports, but the same principles apply. 360 Feedback for non-managers can help employees grow in their current roles and help them understand in what areas there is potential for improvement. 

If you plan to start implementing 360 degree feedback, first make sure you have a robust performance management system in place first. 360 degree feedback and performance reviews should be used in conjunction and used as a base for employee coaching and development.