360 Degree Feedback

Unlike, the traditional top-down appraisal where a supervisor appraises the performance of their subordinate, 360 Degree feedback incorporates multiple perspectives by using feedback from a variety of sources. These sources include peers, subordinates, customers, self, and supervisor.

These types of surveys may be called multi-source feedback, multi-rater feedback, multi-level feedback, upward appraisal, peer review.

The results of this type of feedback process provide an understanding of how the employee is perceived from different perspectives. This process helps an individual understand how others perceive their work performance. This kind of information can guide employee development and identify training needs.

Feedback is essential to facilitating performance improvements. Feedback allows people to utilize their strengths to their advantage. Feedback informs employees which actions create problems for others and to know what changes may be needed.

Chapter Highlights

  1. Uses
  2. Benefits
  3. How it is conducted
  4. Requirements
  5. Benefits of using the Internet
  6. Demos
  7. Item Bank
Principle of 360 Degree Feedback: Provides an understanding of how the employee is perceived from different perspectives.

360 Degree Feedback: Uses

Several uses for 360 Degree Feedback include:

This process can also be a motivator of performance and reduce turnover since it shows the employee that their opinions and views are considered important.


May improve service to customers if they are able to offer feedback to the employee. 360 Degree Feedback offers a more complete picture of the employee's performance. This feedback can provide guidance on skills that an employee may need to develop.

How it is conducted.

  1. Develop questionnaire A questionnaire used for 360 Degree Feedback typically contains items that are rated on a 4 to 7 point scale. These items may be developed to measure different dimensions of job performance (e.g., communication, teamwork, leadership, initiative, judgment, ...). Questionnaires also typically include one or more open-ended questions to solicit written feedback.

    Questionnaires typically include from 50 to 100 items. When estimating the amount of time to complete the questionnaire you should estimate about 1 minute per questionnaire item.

    If using a printed questionnaire form, you should consider using forms that can be scanned into a computer.

  2. Ensure confidentiality of participants Steps must be taken to ensure the confidentiality of the feedback results. For example, feedback ratings from several subordinates may be combined (averaged) to mask the identity of an individual subordinate. Comments or written answers to questions may be summarized in the results to mask the identity of the author. The confidentiality helps ensure that the results are genuine.

  3. Provide training/orientation Often the feedback process involves use of one or more questionnaires, confidential information, and involvement from many different areas of an organization. Therefore, training and orientation to the feedback process is needed to facilitate a smooth feedback process. During this training/orientation, employees should be informed of what 360 Degree Feedback is and why it is being implemented at your organization. You may want to provide samples of the questionnaire items and/or feedback results.

  4. Administer the feedback questionnaire Distribute questionnaire forms (if using printed copies) with instructions. May want to prepare answers to common questions if other employees will be assisting in the administration. If possible, post the questions and answers to your web site for easy access.

    It is important to monitor the progress through the system in order to contact employees who need to complete forms.

  5. Analyze the data Basic data analysis would include averages of ratings. More complicated analyses may include item-analysis and/or factor-analysis. Types of analyses include: Performance Dimension Summary; Summary-Performance vs. Expected; Individual Item Ratings; Item Ratings-Performance vs. Expected (normed); Highest- or Lowest-Rated Items (shows individual's strengths and weaknesses); Group & Organizational Ranking, and Recommendations for Development.

    You may want to analyze the data by organizational division or department to assess group and organizational strengths and weaknesses. This can be used to support or promote training and organizational development.

  6. Develop and Distribute Results Feedback results should be shared with the employee. It should not be mandatory that the employee share the results with their supervisor. However, you may want to make this an optional part of the performance review of the employee.

    Most results for an employee will include a comparison of their ratings to the ratings of their supervisor and and average of the ratings from others (peers, customers...). The comparisons may be in the form of numbers or simple bar charts.

    You may want to provide individual review sessions or group workshops conducted by a facilitator to help individuals review and understand the results and develop appropriate goals and objectives.

Giving Constructive Feedback

For feedback to be effective, it needs to be helpful and given in a manner that allows an employee to understand if his or her performance is having the intended effect. Constructive feedback can positive or negative:

Start with Positive Feedback: Acknowledge the employee's contributions and good work. Give specific examples of what they did well. Let them know the positive impact their contributions had on the department (organization) so they understand the results.

Positive Feedback

Positive Feedback helps an employee understand that what he or she is doing is working well. The more specific the feedback, the more likely the employee will understand and be able to replicate the desired performance.

Constructive Feedback

Constructive Feedback helps an employee understand that there are specific areas that need development. Specific (detailed) feedback provides the employee with information they can use to improve their performance.

Good feedback will include the following:

Stick to the Facts

Describe what happened, not how you "feel" about it. Focus on the facts of the situation, describe it, and stay objective. Let them know how this impacted others, the department, or organization.

Be Direct

Get to the point. Don't elaborate on unnecessary items. Positive and constructive feedback should be given in a straight forward manner.

Avoid Generalizations

Avoid phrases such as:
Do not use the word "you": anywhere near the beginning of your feedback. There is a tendency to become defensive if you feel you are being accused of something.

Here are a few generalizations you should avoid:

You always do... What is it they do? Are they always late in completing the budget? Are they always forgetting to sign certain paperwork? Then just say it. "You are late in completing the budgets." "You have not signed this paperwork." The word always is a generalization and is not necessary to include in feedback.

You never do... What is it they never do? Do they never sign out before leaving early? Do they never speak with the supervisor before contacting a particular client? The word "never" is an unnecessary adverb. You can more simply state: "You have left early without signing out." and
"You have contacted client ABC before speaking with me about it.

You need to... is a phrase that implies that something was not done correctly. When you say: "You need to check in at the desk before proceeding to the secured area", you are implying that they did not check in at the desk. If that's the case, then simply say: "You did not check in at the desk before proceeding to the secured area. From now on, check in at the desk before proceeding to the secure area."

You have to... is a redundant phrase. Any instruction given to an employee by their supervisor is something they have to do. If the employee has to attend mandatory meetings, you should not say: "You have to attend mandatory meetings." Instead, you should simply state: "Attend mandatory meetings."

Avoid Comparisons of Co-Workers

Do not compare co-workers. Only compare the issue against your expectations, against standards set for earning rewards, against a person's stated goals, or against mutually set objectives.

Balance Constructive Feedback with Positive Feedback

Let the employee know about their successes and achievements. This will help the employee to understand you value their contributions and will help to reinforce their positive behaviors. Focus on specific behaviors and not on personality or your feelings about them. Be specific about their contributions to the department/organization.

Individual Development Plans

The data analysis and planning that precedes setting improvement goals is the most important link in the team evaluation process. The cognitive dissonance between the expected performance and the actual performance creates the targets for improvement. The evaluator in charge of helping the employee set the professional growth plans must combine and assess the types of feedback information and compare this information to the intended outcomes.

Typically, an organization using 360-degree feedback will have desired outcomes embedded in its strategic planning goals and its site improvement plans. A common expectation for supervisors is that achievement of their subordinates will improve continuously over time.

Using templates called management action plans for administrators or project action plans for instructional staff, the coaching evaluator and the evaluatee will set one to three goals. The action plan will ask the following questions:

What is to be accomplished? (the goal)

Multiple Levels of Questionnaires: If you have a large enough group of participants, you may want to have multiple questionnaires (different competencies or even different levels of competencies).


Responses are collected for items that fall under a specific dimension of job performance. A single questionnaire may contain dozens of questions that measure responses on one or more dimensions. Example dimensions are shown below.

Problem Solving Items under this dimension measure how well a person can understand information and options, give appropriate considerations to information, make correct decisions, analyze and interpret information, and react to changing situations. Examples of items include:

  1. Works quickly when faced with difficult problems.
  2. Analyzes issues and reduces them to their component parts.
  3. Makes judgments based upon relevant information.

Planning and Organizing Items under this dimension measure a person's ability to develop plans and objectives, develop long-term solutions, set business objectives adhere to schedules. Examples of items include:
  1. Plans meetings effectively.
  2. Organizes and schedules events, activities, and resources.
  3. Sets up and monitors time frames and plans.

Adaptability Items under this dimension measure a person's ability to adjust to changing circumstances as needed. To be flexible in responding to problems. Examples of items include:
  1. Learns from personal experiences and/or mistakes and integrates experience to cope with new or untried events.
  2. Keeps control of his/her feelings and behavior, even in high pressure situations.
  3. Adapts to circumstances as needed.

Communication Items under this dimension measure the ability to present information formally and informally in both written and orally. Also measures the ability to communicate with customers, staff, peers and supervisors. Examples of items include:
  1. Communicates a clear understanding of the subject at hand.
  2. Speaks clearly, fluently, and in a compelling manner to both individuals and groups.
  3. Delivers messages with energy, enthusiasm, and conviction.
  4. Writes in a clear and concise manner, using appropriate grammar, style, and language for the reader.

Supervisory Skills Measures the individual's skill level in planning, organizing and overseeing the work of subordinates. Also measures a person's ability to manage work flow efficiently. Items may include:
  1. Motivates others in order to reach organizational goals.
  2. Influences others in a way that results in acceptance, agreement, or behavior change.

Administrative Skills Measures an individual's ability to implement and monitor actions to ensure compliance with policies and regulations. Also helps identify the ability to distribute information, allocate staff and maintain records or documents. Examples of items include:
  1. Establishes and documents goals and objectives.
  2. Follows existing procedures and processes.
  3. Empowers others to achieve results and holds them accountable for actions.

Analytical Skills Measures an individual's ability to work effectively with facts and figures. Is able to transform, compile, and project data and technical resources. Examples of items include:
  1. Asks the "right" questions to size up or evaluate situations.
  2. Identifies patterns in conflicting information, events, or data.
  3. Generates alternative solutions to problems and challenges.
  4. Analyzes issues and reduces them to their component parts.

Creativity Skills Measures an individual's ability to create new concepts or products. Examples of items include:
  1. Creates new and imaginative approaches to work-related issues.
  2. Generate innovative and practical ideas and approaches.
  3. Identifies fresh approaches and shows a willingness to question traditional assumptions.

Business Control Measure the skill in, and concern for, controlling expenses, reducing costs, setting performance standards and reviewing budgets. Examples of items include:
  1. Understands and applies business and financial principles.
  2. Views problems from a business perspective, opportunity, investment, risks, and anticipated results.
  3. Understands the costs, profits, markets, and added value of issues.
  4. Accurately evaluates the implications of new information or events.

Manager Potential Index A measure of the composite score of the scales reflecting an individual's overall ability to successfully perform management tasks.


A 360 Degree Feedback process requires a coordinated effort to collect hundreds, or even thousands, of pieces of data. In addition, the validity of the results is enhanced by ensuring confidentiality of the participants.

The survey administration may require time (to complete the questionnaires) and computer resources to analyze the data.

Benefits of using Internet

Fortunately, there are many software companies that offer tools to assist you in conducting this type of feedback process. Some links to these companies can be found at the HR-Software network.


Request a customized free online demo from

Item Selector

If you are interested in developing a 360 Feedback Questionnaire, this would be a good place to get started. Click the link below to access our Item Selector program. This will display a form containing a list of items. Just select the items you want included on your questionnaire and follow the instructions on the form.

Item Selector

Item Bank

Access an item bank containing over 1,600 items.

Item Bank