What is 360-degree feedback?

A 360-degree feedback system is a procedural method where members receive confidential and anonymous feedback from colleagues who work with them or those exposed to their workplace behaviours. The feedback is usually given to them by around 8-10 people, with these varying working relationships with the individual. This means the feedback can be provided by one who is on the same team, their manager or colleagues beneath them. The purpose of this is so they can receive the most well-rounded view of their performance, strengths and weaknesses.

The peers who are assessing the individual must complete a form where they rate the individual against a series of statements. The statements are designed to assess a range of workplace competencies. The individual must also undergo a period of self-assessment by completing one of these surveys themselves. If you need an example, look at our free 360 degree feedback survey.

How to use 360-degree feedback?

The most effective way to use 360-degree feedback is when looking at personal development. It is a tool where respondents can give constructive feedback where they may not have felt comfortable before due to the anonymity. This allows greater self-awareness of one’s performance and it illuminates how others view them at work. This means they can adjust their behaviours and skills accordingly.

It is useful when measuring, but only as part of a bigger process. The main aim of 360-degree feedback surveys is looking at behavioural competencies. It shouldn’t focus on job requirements and performance objectives.

Benefits of 360-degree feedback

There are a number of advantages to using the 360-degree feedback method both for the business itself and for the employee.

Benefits of 360 feedback for organisations

  • It provides qualitative and quantitative data that can be analysed on a departmental and company-wide basis.
  • It reinforces the link between competencies, behaviours and values that are required for the job role.
  • Employees are provided with a sound understanding of their strengths and weaknesses which in turn gives them a basis for development.
  • It promotes the company’s commitment to employee development which is a great recruitment and retention tool.
  • It provides a fair and transparent process that encourages an open culture that values feedback.

Benefits of 360 feedback for employees

  • Receives feedback from a number of sources.
  • Gives them the opportunity to discover the opinions of people they work with and see how that compares to their own thoughts.
  • Increases self-awareness
  • Can improve teamwork through an increased understanding of how others perceive them.
  • Puts a focus on personal development and what they do well as well as what can be improved.

Disadvantages of 360-degree feedback

As with all methods, there are also some disadvantages to using 360 feedback for both organisations and employees.

Benefits of 360 feedback for organisations

  • The questions have to be well-thought out and well executed which means spending some time putting the process together.
  • If the feedback is not clear and well-communicated to the employee you can risk causing tension among your employees.
  • Those providing feedback might not feel comfortable to do so and feel pressured or stressed by the process.

Challenges of 360 feedback for employees

  • Lack of action following the feedback being given. It’s important to continue the process by acting on it.
  • Feedback may not be well-communicated and cause upset or distress to the employee.
  • Managers may prioritise uncovering their employees’ weaknesses rather than putting an emphasis on positive and constructive feedback

Giving those involved with your business appropriate feedback can allow them to develop. Personal development is the key to healthy work life and employee retention. 360-degree feedback is just one way to support this, but it is a great component where you can give employees a well-rounded view of their competencies and behaviour. You need to understand what your employees want from the feedback, focusing on negatives and where they need to improve can be detrimental. Look at the positives, encourage the development of these and watch your employees flourish. Check out our free 360 degree feedback survey to see it in action.

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