In an increasingly crowded marketplace, effective leadership is a vital way that organizations can gain a competitive advantage. One of the simplest, yet most effective, leadership development programs is 360-degree feedback for managers.  

360-degree feedback is a comprehensive evaluation system that collects feedback about an individual from various sources. These sources typically include the individual’s self-assessment, feedback from peers, subordinates, and supervisors, and in some cases, external sources such as customers and suppliers. The aim of a 360-degree assessment (or evaluation) for a manager is to provide a holistic view of that leader’s performance, skills, and behaviors.  


History of 360-Degree Feedback Programs 

360-degree feedback’s history dates to the early 20th century, with the first documented use of 360-degree feedback taking place in the German military during World War II. The military used this system to evaluate officers’ performance by gathering feedback from multiple sources.  

360-degree feedback made its commercial debut in the 1950s at the Esso Research and Engineering Company. They used this feedback system to gather information about employees, marking one of the earliest uses of surveys for this purpose. By the 1990s, the concept of 360-degree feedback had gained widespread momentum, and most HR and organizational development professionals were familiar with its use and effectiveness. However, the process of collecting and collating feedback was labor-intensive, involving complex manual calculations or lengthy delays. 

Today, 360-degree feedback is embedded in many HR processes and is applied at individual, group, and organizational levels. It is used for both developmental purposes, helping employees improve their work skills and behaviors, and for performance evaluations and administrative decisions, such as pay and promotions. 


360-Degree Feedback Programs and Manager Development 

360-degree feedback manager assessments can be a powerful tool for leadership development. Here is how: 


Feedback helps managers understand how their actions and behaviors are perceived by others. A 360-degree assessment helps a manager answer this key question: What experience am I creating for others, or what is it like to work with and around me? This heightened self-awareness can lead to more effective leadership as managers can align their self-perception with how others see them. Self-awareness serves as the foundation for many other leadership skills such as emotional intelligence, decision-making, and effective communication. A self-aware leader can objectively evaluate their performance, identify areas for improvement, and adapt their behavior to different situations. This ability to self-reflect and adapt is crucial in leading diverse teams, as it fosters empathy and understanding towards others’ perspectives. Moreover, self-awareness promotes authenticity, a trait highly valued in leaders, as it builds trust and fosters a positive work environment.  

Identifying Blind Spots

Every manager has blind spots – weaknesses that they do not fully understand or of which they may be unaware. By receiving feedback from various sources, managers can identify and address these blind spots, enhancing their leadership effectiveness. 

Fostering Open Communication

360-degree feedback programs for managers encourage open and honest communication within teams. It can help break down hierarchical barriers, promoting a culture of transparency and mutual respect. These programs also give employees a platform to discuss things they might avoid in routine or normal conversations.  

Personal and Professional Growth

The feedback received can guide managers in their personal and professional development. It can help them understand the skills they need to work on and guide their learning and development efforts. 


Why 360-Degree Feedback Programs Now? 

Modern technology has significantly simplified the implementation of 360-degree feedback programs. With the advent of sophisticated software platforms, like Spectiv by DecisionWise, these tools can now automate the process of collecting, analyzing, and presenting 360-degree feedback data. This eliminates the need for manual data entry and analysis, thereby reducing the potential for errors and bias. Additionally, these platforms offer features like anonymity and confidentiality, which encourage more honest and candid feedback.  



A 360-degree feedback program geared towards managers is a powerful tool that can significantly enhance leadership within an organization. By providing managers with a comprehensive understanding of their performance from multiple perspectives, it allows them to become more effective managers. As businesses continue to evolve and adapt to new challenges, tools like a 360-degree feedback program for managers will be crucial in fostering strong and effective teams. 


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