A comprehensive guide to 360-review

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Performance evaluations are an integral part of any organization's talent management strategy. Traditionally, these evaluations were limited to top-down assessments, where managers provided feedback to their subordinates. However, the 360 review typically includes the employee's manager, numerous peers, reporting staff members, and functional supervisors with whom the person works regularly.

360 reviews, also known as multi-rater or peer feedback and reviews, offer a more comprehensive view of an employee's strengths and employee’s work performance by soliciting feedback from a variety of sources.

In this guide, we'll delve into the world of 360-degree reviews, exploring what they are, how to implement them effectively, and the benefits they can bring to your organization.

What is a 360 review?

360 review can be defined as a review where employees receive feedback from peers, subordinates, managers, and even clients. Organizations widely accept Review 360, for it is a well-rounded process that offers employees the opportunity to understand and compare how their strengths and weaknesses are viewed at various levels of the company.

Traditional reviews, where only managers of employees reviewed them, are not as effective. 360-degree performance evaluations help identify any gaps and address them. It also brings additional issues to the fore, such as training requirements, team management, customer communication, etc.

360-degree performance reviews come in handy in three key ways: to replace the annual review process, to augment professional development, or to identify critical patterns and discrepancies across multiple groups.

When performing 360 reviews, employees can give and receive feedback in the following categories: leadership qualities, communication skills, teamwork, quality of performance, and customer relations.

How does a 360 review work?

A 360-degree review, also known as 360 degree feedback or multi-rater feedback, is a performance appraisal method that gathers feedback from multiple sources to provide a comprehensive and well-rounded assessment of an individual's performance, skills, and behaviors.

It is typically used in organizations to help employees receive feedback from a variety of perspectives, including managers, peers, subordinates, and sometimes even external stakeholders. Here's how a 360 degree review typically works:

  1. Identify Participants: The person being reviewed (the subject) selects a group of individuals who will provide feedback. This group typically includes:
    • Supervisors or managers
    • Peers (colleagues at the same level)
    • Subordinates (if applicable)
    • Self-assessment (the individual evaluates their own performance)
    • Other relevant stakeholders (clients, customers, or external partners)
  2. Develop a Questionnaire or Survey: A standardized questionnaire or survey is created to gather feedback. Questions should be designed to assess specific competencies, skills, and behaviors relevant to the individual's role and goals.
  3. Anonymity: Respondents are usually assured of anonymity to ensure candid and honest feedback. This encourages them to provide constructive feedback without fear of retaliation.
  4. Collect Feedback: The questionnaire is distributed to the selected participants. Each participant provides their feedback by rating the subject on various competencies or behaviors and providing written comments or suggestions.
  5. Compile Feedback: An administrator or HR professional collects and compiles all request feedback responses. The feedback is typically aggregated to protect anonymity and remove any identifying information.
  6. Share Feedback: The feedback is shared with the subject. It is often presented in direct reports summarizing the ratings and comments. This report provides a holistic view of the individual's strengths and areas for improvement.
  7. Discuss and Set Goals: The subject meets with their supervisor or manager to discuss the feedback and develop an action plan for improvement. This discussion may include setting specific goals and strategies for development.
  8. Ongoing Development: The 360-degree review process is not a one-time event; it can be part of a continuous performance improvement process. Regular follow-up assessments may be conducted to track progress and development.

Implementing the 360 Review

To implement the 360 review successfully, follow these steps:

  1. Define Objectives and Criteria: Determine why you're conducting 360 reviews and what specific competencies or behaviors you want to evaluate. Common objectives include improving employee development, fostering teamwork, and enhancing leadership skills.
  2. Choose the Right Tool: Select a software or platform designed for 360 reviews. These tools facilitate collecting and analyzing feedback, ensuring anonymity and confidentiality.
  3. Communicate Clearly: Inform employees about the process, emphasizing its purpose and the confidential nature of the feedback. Address any concerns about bias or retaliation.
  4. Select Participants: Decide who will provide feedback for each employee. Ensure a diverse group of respondents to get a well-rounded view of their performance.
  5. Gather Feedback: Collect feedback through the chosen tool, allowing participants to rate employee performance and provide comments.
  6. Analyze the Data: Use the collected feedback to identify trends and areas for improvement. Look for patterns in the responses to provide meaningful insights.
  7. Share and Discuss Feedback: Provide employees with their manager-assessed feedback in a constructive and supportive manner. Encourage open dialogue and set goals for improvement.
  8. Develop Action Plans: Work with employees to create action plans based on their feedback. These plans should outline specific steps for improvement.
  9. Follow-up: Schedule regular follow-up meetings to track progress and adjust action plans as needed. This demonstrates your commitment to employee development.
  10. Evaluate and Iterate: Periodically assess the effectiveness of your 360 review process and make necessary adjustments to align with your objectives.

What are the top 5 benefits of 360-degree reviews?

Organizations rely on 360-degree performance reviews because they work. 360 performance reviews build a bigger picture from the perspective of various stakeholders. Let us look at the top 5 pros of 360 performance reviews.

  1. Multi-source feedback: Traditionally, only managers weighed in on an employee’s performance. Even though useful, it wasn’t a wholesome view of employee performance. 360 reviews give you a broader perspective, providing performance insights from multiple functions and stakeholders.
  2. Identify blind spots: In organizations, when you are working on multiple projects or with numerous functions, there could be concern areas that an employee may not be aware of. This review process helps bring to the fore such areas, arming management to address them at the earliest.
  3. Identify training needs: Thorough employee feedback highlights improvement areas. This makes it easy to identify and implement any training requirements that will help improve the employee’s performance.
  4. Offers constructive feedback: Participation from multiple sources helps give well-rounded feedback. This is crucial in improving their performance, which can happen with constructive criticism. It helps the employee become a better manager, colleague, and subordinate.
  5. Proves visibility: An employee may work with various peers and functions over their tenure. With 360-degree feedback review, peers and subordinates can get to give feedback on employee performance. This not only ensures organization-wide visibility but also their efforts are valued.

What 360 review is not?

A 360-degree review, also known as multi-rater feedback, is a valuable tool for assessing an individual's performance from various perspectives. However, it's essential to clarify what it is not:

  • It's not the sole basis for performance evaluation; it complements other methods.
  • It doesn't replace regular feedback; it supplements ongoing communication.
  • It's not a one-time event; it should be conducted periodically.
  • It's not for personal attacks; it provides constructive feedback for growth.
  • It's not a guaranteed solution; it's part of a broader performance strategy.
  • It's not a substitute for accountability; issues should be addressed directly.
  • It's not a standalone tool for promotions; other factors are considered.
  • It's not an anonymous gossip session; feedback should be professional.
  • It's not for ranking; it's for individual development.
  • It's not rigid; it can be customized to align with organizational performance development and goals.

360-degree performance review surveys

Review 360 takes some coordination since it’s multiple stakeholders participating in an employee's evaluation. You have numerous colleagues, peers, managers, and customers giving performance feedback. Conducting surveys is an excellent way to gather input for 360-degree performance reviews.

Here are the top five reasons you should use an online survey platform or tool to conduct 360 reviews.

  1. Simple and quick: Building and conducting online employee performance surveys are hassle-free and fast with survey software. Most of the tools have pre-defined surveys, which can be edited to suit your needs. It gives you the freedom to use your own set of questions, making it user-friendly.
  2. Easy data gathering: Data gathered from online employee surveys is stored centrally with its unique tracking and storing properties. This is useful in not only data gathering but also accessing. This comes in handy when you are doing multiple surveys for many employees all year round.
  3. Easy data sharing: It’s essential to share your survey data with key and relevant leaders for effective 360-degree performance management. With online survey tools like QuestionPro Workforce, you can easily share data with various people and even assign role-based access. This helps maintain data privacy, shareability, and ease of access.
  4. Reporting dashboards: Online survey tools provide you with options to create and customize dashboards. These can be shared directly with relevant managers for further analysis. It helps in 360 Review since it lets you put in fields that help monitor things like KPIs, goal management, etc.
  5. Customize your surveys: Online survey platforms come with a host of options. These are not only restricted types of surveys but also the level of customization that you can do. You may have your brand colors in surveys, domain names, data centers, and more. You can customize your tool and surveys depending on your requirements and needs.

Common challenges and how to address them

Despite their many benefits, 360 reviews can present challenges, including concerns about anonymity, the risk of skewed feedback, and resistance from employees. To address these issues:

  • Ensure Anonymity: Use a reliable tool that guarantees anonymity to encourage honest feedback.
  • Train Participants: Provide training to those giving feedback to ensure they understand the process and its importance.
  • Focus on Development: Emphasize that the goal is employee development, not punishment or critique.
  • Continuous Improvement: Continuously refine the process based on candid feedback from participants and outcomes.

Identify patterns in your workplace

Whether you’re looking for a way to streamline your review process or help your employees grow, 360 performance reviews certainly help. 360 reviews increase accountability, and your organization can disseminate the data and apply it company-wide to fix repetitive issues. These can be oversights during training or even procedural matters that can thwart employee growth.

Organizations conducting 360 reviews certainly help in improving employee performance and employee experience. Data gathered from such reviews can be fed into your performance management software system and used to develop and enhance training plans, feedback programs, etc.