The Ultimate Guide to 360-Degree Survey

A 360 survey, also known as a 360 review or 360-degree feedback, is a process that gathers feedback on an employee's performance from a variety of sources, including managers, peers, subordinates, and self-evaluations.

The Ultimate Guide to 360-Degree Survey

What is a 360 Degree Survey?

A 360 survey, also known as a 360 review or 360-degree feedback, is a process that gathers feedback on an employee's performance from a variety of sources, including managers, peers, subordinates, and self-evaluations. A 360-degree feedback survey may include feedback from clients, suppliers, contractors, or vendors in cases where the employee interacts with the public.

These surveys are designed to help employees understand how their work, skills, and behaviors affect people at all levels of their organization. 360-degree feedback surveys can provide a comprehensive view of performance while also identifying areas for improvement.

This feedback survey typically includes a list of statements or questions organized into competency categories. The scores in each category are averaged and presented to the employee.

A 360-degree feedback survey is designed to help employees excel in their roles and increase their engagement. The results of a 360-degree feedback survey can assist employees in the following ways:

  • Recognize their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Develop a successful professional development strategy.
  • Make behavioral changes to help assist their team and organization.

Why 360-Degree Survey and How Does It Benefit

360-degree surveys help you develop a better understanding of a plethora of factors about your employees that may help take better steps toward the effective engagement and welfare of your employees.

a) Performance Assessment - The number ‘360’ implies completeness. Likewise, this survey helps you get a complete feedback from all stakeholders involved and helps you understand your and others' perception of yourself. 360-degree feedback surveys provide management with a comprehensive picture of employees' actual performance status. Accurate assessments can be generated by opinion polls, peers, managers, customers, and other organizational members, and employees can be fairly recognized, developed, and rewarded.

b) Management Development - The most common application of 360-degree feedback surveys is to create management and executives. 360-degree feedback surveys are used to identify "Blind Spots" that management and leaders may have. By ‘blind spots’, we mean certain actions and behaviors that an individual may exhibit but are unaware of.

360-degree feedback is a tool for employee development that aids in the development of a skilled, dynamic, engaged, and productive workforce. We have listed some of the benefits of 360-degree surveys. Have a read:

a) Enhances Employee Self-Awareness |
In a study by Gallup, it was found that employees who received strengths feedback had 14.9% lower turnover rates than those who did not receive feedback in one study of 65,672 employees (controlling for job type and tenure).
360 feedback increases an employee's self-awareness, assists in identifying one's strengths and highlights one's weaknesses. It assists the employee in discovering hidden strengths and weaknesses that they would otherwise be unaware of. The 360-degree review process helps employees gain a better understanding of their own behavior and outlook on how they work.
All reviewers review themselves before the survey is sent to other stakeholders. This enables the individual to rate themselves first and then see others’ feedback

b) Various Feedback Sources
360-degree feedback allows employees to get multiple perspectives on their roles, performance styles, and ideas. It provides a balanced view of the employee's behavior and skills. It assists employees in understanding themselves from the perspectives of others and bridges the gap between their and others' thoughts on themselves. This feedback system is more constructive and acceptable to employees.

c) Less Bias
Feedback is gathered not only from the manager, but also from contemporaries, subordinates, direct reports, and, in some cases, customers, in a multi-rater feedback process. As a result, because the 360-degree feedback survey is not based on a single person's assessment, the feedback received is completely unbiased. It aids in the reduction of managerial biases, which are common in traditional feedback systems.

d) Skill Development of Employees
Professional development is essential for any employee who wishes to advance in their career. The 360 feedback process is an excellent resource for identifying employee training and skill development needs. Employees who are self-aware take on the responsibility of honing their existing skills and developing new ones. Employee engagement and retention increase, which benefits both the employee and the organization.

e) Improved Relations
In traditional one-on-one feedback, the person receiving feedback from a superior usually has nothing to say because it is one-sided. In this type of feedback process, there is no sense of personal connection. However, as superiors and subordinates review each other in 360 feedback, the superior-subordinate relationship improves. Employees and managers collaborate to achieve mutual goals, which boosts everyone's morale.

f) Builds a Better Company Culture
Multi-rater feedback contributes to the promotion of an open culture in the organization where it is used. Every employee feels valued as they participate in the evaluation of their peers and managers. The feedback process allows them to express themselves without fear of being repressed.

g) Develops Team Spirit
Peers frequently review each other in a 360-degree feedback process. They are very aware of each other's weaknesses and strengths, which allows them to work as a strong and cohesive team. They collaborate to increase the organization's productivity. An effective team is one in which each team member understands how to use each other's strengths and weaknesses to achieve the desired result.

h) Effective Customer Relationship
Customers feel valued and important when they are invited to participate in the feedback process. Employees who work closely with customers can sometimes identify strengths and weaknesses that managers, peers, and others fail to identify during the 360 feedback process. When organizations ask customers to be a part of the process, it helps to improve customer service.

i) Boosts Employee Performance
One of the most significant advantages of the 360-degree feedback process is improved employee performance. It aids in the improvement of employee relationships and self-accountability, as well as providing clarity on how to improve overall performance. This, in turn, improves the organization's employee engagement and retention. They feel valued because their professional development, learning, and opinions are valued.

Survey Design
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. A typical survey, on the other hand, should include questions on specific areas resulting in better understanding and improvement of individual performance using a proper evaluation scale. The Design stage of a 360 survey is important and should not be overlooked. Previous 360 surveys should be revisited, analyzed, and updated as needed, and organizations with little experience or success with 360 survey designs should seek consultation. A well-structured and relevant survey that covers key areas will yield useful survey results.

Also, it is worth mentioning that, the review parameters are routed to the goals and objectives of the larger organization. So if the organization is focused on Sales..the key characteristic is to look for Customer Centricity.

A 360-degree feedback survey should typically solicit feedback on the following topics:

  1. Leadership style
  2. Competencies and skills demonstrated by an individual in his or her current position
  3. Ability to manage people
  4. Internal and external communication abilities
  5. Budgeting and Financial Administration (if this area is one of their primary responsibilities)
  6. Time management and workload delegation
  7. Individual attitudes and behaviors, as well as team attitudes and behaviors

The questionnaire of the survey should be tailored to elicit specific information in each of these areas. The length should be kept to a minimum

enough to be completed in 15 minutes so that at least five "raters" can answer it. The evaluation scale for each question must be at least 5 point scale (maximum being 7). In some questions, you may be able to select "not enough opportunity to observe" or "not applicable."

Respondents get to assess themselves. They review themselves before knowing what others think about them. This helps them identify their strengths and weaknesses and eventually grow. Moreover, 360 Development is feedback from multiple raters. This means that it should be provided by colleagues who operate directly with the individual receiving the feedback. including supervisors, colleagues, direct reports, customers, and vendors are all examples.

A reviewer may also be hired who has worked with the subject for at least six months. Working with them and watching them experience various scenarios at work will provide them with a more consistent view of the employee's behavior.

Assessments differ depending on an employee's position within the organization. Some 360-degree feedback surveys are designed for HiPOs (high-potential employees) or C-level leadership and executives, while others are designed for the grassroots level (e.g., field employees), managers or frontline leaders, or mid-level management (e.g. directors or VPs).

The greatest advantages of a 360-degree feedback process are realized when all respondents are made aware of what to expect from their "recipient" and "rater" roles. To reap the greatest benefits, every aspect of the 360-degree survey process must be kept completely confidential and separate from the performance appraisal process. The significance of confidentiality in obtaining accurate feedback cannot be overstated. At this point in the planning process, it is critical to weigh the significance of confidentiality and determine whether a third party to carry out the survey is required to ensure this fundamental element.

In simple terms, employees will not take an active part honestly in 360-degree feedback surveys unless they are confident that their confidentiality will be respected. Employees will naturally be afraid of retaliation or being held accountable for providing negative feedback. Because the goal of administering 360 surveys is to elicit open and honest feedback, maintaining respondents' confidentiality and anonymity is critical. There are a few ways to protect respondents' confidentiality and ensure their anonymity, such as online survey tools that do not require demographic information; however, the one and only method that guarantees complete confidentiality for both raters and individuals being rated would be to outsource the procedure to a professional service third party.

Providing Feedback
While we all enjoy receiving compliments from our contemporaries, it is necessary to hear constructive criticism in order to identify areas for improvement and take corrective action. However, it is often difficult for colleagues to provide honestly (though constructive) feedback because they are afraid of negative or defensive responses from the recipient, so it is essential to prepare each employee to participate in the 360-degree surveys willingly and enthusiastically.

No matter how self-aware an individual is, receiving their first 360 survey feedback is often a surprise; in some cases, an unpleasant one. The feedback is very likely to contradict the individual's own perceptions of themselves.

As a result, it is critical to assist the individual in framing and processing the results. The following are some crucial aspects for them to remember:

1. The manner you treat people and your attitude will often have a greater influence on the feedback you receive. Communication style is more important than quantity and quality of work.

2. Concentrate on overall results rather than outliers.

3. Handle every comment and rating with care, especially in areas where your raters have identified weaknesses. Treat your greatest flaws as an opportunity for you to learn and grow.

The Cons of 360-Degree Surveys
Without the proper training or understanding of the purpose of 360-degree feedback, these reviews can backfire and have a negative impact on employee productivity and workplace culture. The following are some of the disadvantages of 360-degree surveys:

  1. Factual errors: While feedback from coworkers or subordinates can help employees find better ways to communicate with work colleagues or customers, coworkers and subordinates do not have all of the information that an employee's direct manager does. As a result, these possible inaccuracies can create a distorted picture and bias.
  2. Subjective evaluations: Work colleagues often can allow unfair biases to tarnish their assessments of one another, which can lead to workplace tension or even resentment. This lack of trust can have a negative impact on the team and organizational performance and productivity.
  3. Possibility of fostering a negative culture: With the drawbacks listed above, 360-degree feedback can create a negative work environment in which employees do not feel safe.


360-degree feedback surveys have proven their worth in the marketplace as low-cost methods for identifying factors that may assist employees to improve their performance. A well-designed, well-executed, and confidential 360-degree feedback survey is a powerful tool that supplements the standard formalized process by giving and receiving honest feedback on key aspects of one's work life and continuously improving individual performance. It is not surprising that an increasing number of organizations are conducting them on a regular basis.