Podcast: Getting the Most Out of Your 360 Experience

In this podcast episode, Dan Deka walks through the ins and out of the 360 survey experience, from both the standpoint of the participant and the manager. You’ll learn about the best practices for administering surveys, the process for selecting raters, recommendations for debrief support, and customizing the survey to best match the values of your organization. We’ll leave better prepared to successfully launch a 360-degree feedback survey.

Why 360 Feedback?

When 360 degree feedback is proposed by HR professionals to leadership teams, they sometimes receive responses like these:

  • “Why do I need feedback?
  • “My co-workers can tell me anything.”
  • “I’m always open to feedback!”

True, leaders may be open to feedback without getting offended, but many of their direct reports and co-workers are reluctant to share for fear of negative consequences. The result is that leaders rarely receive complete and honest feedback about how they interact with others.

360-degree feedback allows leaders to receive comprehensive and candid feedback in a safe environment. This feedback usually comes from peers, supervisors, subordinates, or other individuals who influence an individual’s success. The results are averaged by group so that no individual scores or comments are attributed to any one person except for the person’s boss.

A Brief History of 360-Degree Feedback

Perhaps surprisingly, 360 feedback has been in use since 1940. This tool has evolved into a very effective management tool in employee development. 360 feedback grew out of the use of a training method called “T-groups” or training groups. Participants met with their peers who were encouraged to share feedback in an open session facilitated by a trained moderator. In the early years, 360-degree feedback was a difficult process to administer. The time and effort needed to collect paper forms, collate the data, and produce a summary report was extensive. With advances in technology, the entire process moved online becoming quicker and more confidential. Today, about one-third of all companies and 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies use some type of 360-degree feedback.

Inventing your own reality

How Vital is Feedback?

Without feedback, we tend to invent our own reality. Using 360 feedback is a vital part of performance, growth, and development.

Understanding ourselves and how we interact with others helps us understand the impact we have on those around us. The perceptions of others within our circle of influence (whether those perceptions are accurate or not) often impact our level of success. This is where 360 feedback comes in.

Download 360-degree feedback survey sample.

The first step in improving individual or organizational performance is gaining an awareness of our level of performance. Many of us have an incomplete perceptions of how others see us. This may lead to ineffective interaction and reduced overall effectiveness. We can’t begin to improve until we are aware of our behaviors and how others perceive them.

360-Degree Feedback Uses

Most organizations today use 360 feedback in some form or another, although the purpose varies. Based on the needs of your organization, it is important to align the feedback process to reach your objectives:

1. Targeted Development

  • Focuses on personal and career development
  • Discovers where you are and where you need to grow or improve
  • Results in the creation of a personalized action plan

2. Team Effectiveness

  • Focuses on team-effectiveness skills, along with strengths and areas for improvement
  • Allows groups to come together to share their personal goals and work better as a team
  • Promotes a safe environment to share “the undiscussables”

3. Performance Appraisal

  • Creates a 360 perspective of job performance and behaviors
  • Provides a more objective and accurate view of individual contributions and effectiveness
  • Results can be factored into administrative actions

In some cases, 360 feedback can be used to accomplish all of the above objectives but it may take a couple of iterations to create buy-in from all leaders. Start with the objective of personal development with the first 360 survey. When you conduct 360 surveys again, usually one year later, you can add more accountability for the results by using them for team development and performance appraisal.

360-Degree Feedback Survey Download

Related White Paper: The Case for 360-Degree Feedback
Related Post: 5 Reasons Why People Dread Feedback (and why we need to hear it anyway)
Related Webinar: 360-Degree Feedback Best Practices

Why 360 Degree Feedback?

First of all, what is 360 degree feedback? 360 degree feedback is a one-of-a-kind development tool that allows an individual to receive influential feedback from peers, coworkers, managers, and anyone else who works closely with them.

Imagine looking in a mirror. What does the mirror help you do?

  • The mirror helps you to see what you cannot see on your own.
  • You want to know what others will see when they encounter you.
  • You want to know if something is amiss, so you can fix it.
  • You want to be the best self that you that you can be.

360 degree feedback is your workplace mirror. It allows you to see characteristics, attributes, and behaviors that you might not be able to perceive on your own. You understand what others think of you. You can easily identify if something is wrong, or not up to your personal standard of performance, and rectify it. In short, by taking into account the feedback of the people you work with and making goals to improve, you can become your best self.

When 360 degree feedback is targeted to improve performance or leadership, it provides insights to the individual that assists in development and growth. 360 degree feedback is designed to highlight strengths as well as opportunities for development.  Using an established strength to lead change in a weaker area is more effective than merely focusing on a weakness. The saying “play to your strengths” rings true in the workplace as we strive to create a high-performing, highly-efficient organization.

As we become more comfortable considering the mirrors shown to us by our peers, supervisor, direct reports, and others, we gain confidence in using feedback as a tool. As confidence grows, we naturally begin to ask for feedback rather than soliciting it from an outside tool. Feedback becomes a great way to chart progress on selected goals. Just as no one changes lanes on the freeway without checking their mirrors first, we should learn to check our personal mirrors before we strive to make changes as leaders in our organizations. We must learn to value and trust the information given to us and use it to our benefit.

As we get to know ourselves better through feedback mechanisms we start to see the following benefits:

  • We become more effective in our communication with others.
  • We use more efficient conflict resolution strategies.
  • We are more accountable.
  • We navigate change more efficiently.
  • We create stronger teams.

At first, feedback can be difficult to hear.  It is not always easy to have people close to us say that we are misaligned, misunderstood, or misbehaving. But who doesn’t want to know that they have spinach in their teeth after lunch, or that their clothing is not in order after a visit to the restroom?  This is delicate information to give someone and sometimes startling information to receive, but if it is given with the intention to assist rather than harm, then the feedback is good information to have and prevents further problems. Getting to the point of seeing 360 feedback as positive information is not always graceful but can be used as a powerful tool for change.

360 degree feedback does not address spinach-in-the-teeth types of delicate issues.  It addresses other issues that may feel delicate in the beginning, like trust, openness, dependability, vision, energy, concern for others, conflict management, problem-solving ability, expertise and teamwork. Feedback points to opportunities.  When opportunities are embraced and action is taken, more feedback is solicited and progress is noted. You feel the satisfaction that comes from growing, which then acts as a catalyst to stimulate further growth. During this process, feedback becomes more objective and informational, and less emotional and sensitive.  Does it hurt your feelings to see a car in the lane next to you when you check the side-view mirror before changing lanes? No! The car may surprise or startle you, but you are glad you checked your mirror before you moved over.  As we get more experience with feedback, we learn to use it rather than personalize it, just as we use our side-view mirrors.

So why 360 degree feedback?  It is a mirror that can assist you in seeing above, below, and around you. It is a tool that can accelerate your development as a leader. It is a process that can mature your perspective of yourself and others.  It is a way to get out of your own box.  It is a refiner’s fire that may burn a little at first but will leave you with a better shine.
Essentially, 360 degree feedback is a way of asking others to tell you what you are doing well and what you can be doing better.

For more information about 360 degree feedback and how these surveys can help you and your company, contact DecisionWise

Webinar: 360 Degree Feedback Best Practices

Having an impromptu meeting

Based on 20-years of experience conducting 360 degree feedback surveys around the world, we’ll share the best methods for preparing, administering, and rolling out the results from your 360 degree feedback survey. We’ll also identify the most common mistakes organizations make when conducting 360 degree feedback surveys and how to avoid them.
Learn the best practices for each step of the process:

  • Choosing the right competencies and behaviors
  • Choosing the right raters to provide feedback
  • Keeping the process confidential
  • Reporting on the results
  • Coaching best practices
  • Action planning on the results

Get HRCI and SHRM credit for attending this webinar.

Watch Now:


VIDEO: The Influence of Managers on Employee Engagement

Engaged Employees

Download: Employee Engagement Survey

Let’s talk about our research on the Influence of Managers on Employee Engagement.

We recently conducted the largest study of its kind to compare the level of employee engagement of managers to that of their direct reports. This study included data from 22 companies, almost 19,000 employees, and 2,300 managers.

We first measured the overall level of engagement for each individual using a set of research-based anchor questions from their annual employee survey. We then grouped managers and employees according to their level of engagement into four categories: Fully Engaged, Key Contributors, Opportunity Group, and Fully Disengaged. Then we compared the level of engagement of managers to the employees they lead. 

Employee Engagement Example Graph

For the 808 managers that were Fully Engaged, we found that 36% of their employees were also Fully Engaged, 48% were Key Contributors, 12% were in the Opportunity Group, and only 3% were Fully Disengaged. 

For the 1154 managers who were Key Contributors, the level of fully engaged employees drops to 24%. So the percentage of fully engaged employees increases 50% from a Key Contributor manager to a Fully Engaged manager.

For managers in the Opportunity Group and Fully Disengaged categories, only 14% of their employees were fully engaged.

So you can see that fully engaged managers lead more engaged employees. That finding, in of itself, is not very surprising, but what is important, is that the percentage of fully engaged employees increases 163% from Opportunity Group managers and Fully Disengaged managers to Fully Engaged managers. That’s a huge difference. 

So how do you engage managers? Here are 3 best-practice recommendations:

3 Ways to Engage Managers


Employee Engagement Survey

VIDEO: The Impact of 360-Degree Feedback Coaching

Business meeting

Download: 360-Degree Feedback Survey

Watch this short video and learn more about our research on the impact 360-degree feedback coachingBy coaching, we mean sitting down with someone to debrief their 360-degree feedback results and helping them to create an action plan. For the purpose of this study, we collected feedback from 244 leaders from a Fortune 500 company with locations around the world. 

Leadership Coaching Meeting

These leaders had recently received 360-degree feedback and were provided coaching by internal HR professionals. We wanted to understand the effectiveness of the process. We asked questions about the process, the survey, and the coaching experience and here is what we found:

 94% of those that received coaching and set goals felt the 360 process was effective.

Conversely, only 34% of those who reported that they did not receive sufficient coaching felt the 360 process was effective.

Register: 360-Degree Feedback Coaching Training

This means that if you don’t provide any coaching support on your 360 feedback process, 66% of your participants will not feel that the process is effective. That is a huge waste of time and money.

So, how do you provide an excellent coaching experience? Here are three simple steps:

  1. Schedule 90 minutes to meet individually with each participant.
  2. Help the individual interpret the results by providing context for the scores and overall themes.
  3. Guide them in creating an action plan that addresses 2-3 development opportunities.

If you’d like to learn more and become certified as a 360-degree feedback coach, contact DecisionWise about our coaching training programs.

360-Degree Feedback Survey Download