Is 360 feedback good or bad?

If just getting an email from HR can give your stomach flip-flops, when managers and organization leaders confront the “dreaded” 360-feedback process, many want to run for the hills. 360-degree surveys are now a mainstay of many organizations, and, when implemented well, they can be catalysts of meaningful, positive change.

What’s there to fear?

What is 360-degree feedback?

360 Degree Feedback is an anonymous evaluation method where employees receive confidential assessments from their colleagues in the workplace, including managers, peers, and direct reports.

Approximately eight to twelve people complete an online form anonymously, addressing questions across various workplace competencies. The questionnaire features inquiries assessed on a rating scale and prompts raters to offer written comments. Additionally, the one being evaluated completes a self-assessment questionnaire, mirroring the survey questions received by others in their forms.

We recognize this can be vulnerable and uncomfortable. And, we assert that this is necessary for growth and improvement.

Is 360 feedback good or bad?

The 360 feedback process isn’t good or bad in and of itself. How it is implemented, planning for and using strategic communication about the process, the purpose for doing the 360 survey, and whether the organization is willing to dedicate time and resources to develop its people after the results are in, will determine whether the process is good or bad.

When done well, 360 feedback is one of the most comprehensive tools of performance appraisal. And, based on results, it gives organizations a blueprint on how to develop and improve senior leadership.

As Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, leadership development consultants, write in Harvard Business Review, “A 360-feedback process, when done right, greatly increases the chances that change will occur."

Good Reasons for Using 360-Degree Feedback:

Comprehensive Insight:

360-degree feedback offers a more comprehensive view of an employee's performance by incorporating feedback from multiple perspectives, including supervisors, peers, and subordinates. This provides a more holistic understanding of strengths, weaknesses, and areas for development.


360-degree feedback helps improve self-awareness among employees by providing insights into how their behavior and performance are perceived by others in the organization. This awareness can lead to targeted personal development efforts and improved performance.

Development Opportunities:

360-degree feedback can be an effective tool for employee development. By identifying areas for improvement and offering constructive feedback, employees can tailor their development plans to address specific skill gaps and enhance their professional growth.

Promotes Accountability and Ownership:

Involving multiple stakeholders in the feedback process promotes accountability. When employees receive feedback from various sources, they are more likely to take ownership of their development and strive for continuous improvement.

Strategies to Address Potential Drawbacks of 360-degree Feedback:

Risk of Bias:

To mitigate the risk of bias, organizations should ensure anonymity and confidentiality in the feedback process. Provide training to raters on how to deliver constructive feedback and focus on observable behaviors rather than personal opinions.

Fear of Retaliation:

To address concerns about retaliation, foster a culture of psychological safety where employees feel comfortable providing honest feedback without fear of repercussions. Leaders should lead by example and demonstrate openness to receiving feedback themselves.

Overwhelm and Confusion:

To prevent overwhelm and confusion, organizations should provide clear guidelines and expectations for the feedback process. Offer training or resources to help employees interpret and prioritize feedback effectively. Employees who are getting evaluated shouldn’t receive their evaluations on their own, instead they should have support from human resources. Together, they can create action plans to address challenges.

Lack of Follow-Up:

To ensure that feedback leads to meaningful action, organizations should establish a follow-up process to track progress on development goals. Incorporate feedback discussions into regular performance conversations and provide ongoing support and resources for development initiatives.

Unfortunately, we often see organizations using 360-degree surveys as a component of performance appraisal. Using evaluations to gauge performance can break down trust within the workplace. Since 360 surveys primarily assess behaviors and competencies rather than job skills and performance objectives, they do not provide a comprehensive performance appraisal.

While integrating 360 reviews into a broader performance management framework can be advantageous, clear communication is essential to convey how this feedback will be used.

360-feedback is not a trend. In fact, Forbes reports over 80% of Fortune 500 companies use this regularly. Take the mystery out of the feedback process. This is an incredible development tool, providing your leaders, managers, and employees with information to grow and improve.

Is 360 feedback good or bad?

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