Creating success through 360 degree feedback

October 8, 2018

Becky digs deep into the 360 degree feedback model and how it can be a very powerful development tool when done properly!

By Becky Mee

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”

As the Evil Queen in Snow White found out, asking for feedback doesn’t always give you what you want to hear. However, asking for feedback is, time and again, shown to be one of the most effective and powerful self-development tools out there. The challenge is in how it’s done.

Most feedback models are based on taking feedback from a very specific group of people; usually your manager and a few other people who may have worked closely with you on a project or in a team. This approach keeps the feedback close but the pitfalls are: feedback can be limited, ‘halo/ horns’ bias can creep in, and your manager may not have seen you perform at your best!

How does 360-feedback fit in? This model takes feedback on you from your peers, direct reports, indirect reports, senior managers, your manager, customers and clients. It’s about opening up new avenues so you have a full awareness of how you are perceived in the business at all levels as possible. As a result, with the feedback being based on performance, values and behaviours, it can be a very powerful development tool if it is implemented and delivered properly.

In order to succeed, the programme needs the following:

  • Senior leaders need to be onboard with the programme, why it’s being implemented and believe a culture of open feedback will help develop people and the business.
  • To be part of a wider holistic performance management system that focuses on wider employee development.
  • To be simple. Everyone needs to understand the rules of the game, whether you’re using an online survey tool or a simpler questionnaire.
  • All employees need to understand what the process is and how it works, not just the employees who are going through it.
  • To be based on the values and behaviours that are important to the company and leadership culture so it reinforces them and their development through the team.
  • A focus on strengths rather than weaknesses, as it is always hard to develop your skills in an area that is not your forte at all!
  • A strong training programme for those who are delivering the feedback; most damage is done by poorly delivered feedback that isn’t specific or is delivered in a critical manner.
  • Clearly defined questions that allow respondents to give meaningful and specific feedback that can really help the recipient understand what is needed and grow accordingly.
  • A structured and simple action planning process that helps the recipient put the feedback into action. This allows them to see the value of the feedback and in turn shows more junior members of the team that the process is positive and to be embraced.

On the flip side, a poorly implemented scheme can:

  • Demotivate with critical or personal feedback.
  • Create fear and distrust as people do not believe the process will be followed fairly and feedback kept confidential.
  • Confuse with unspecific feedback.
  • Lead to lack of clarity over development areas.
  • Be negative, focusing only on weaknesses instead of strengths.
  • Fail to set people up for success with a lack of clear action planning or regular follow up.
  • Become just another HR tool, driven by HR rather than being another tool or skill set a leader can use to get the best out of their people.


360-feedback can come in a variety of forms, from longer multiple-choice questionnaires, those that focus on personality types as well as management competencies, to more open-ended feedback modelled on a simple ‘start, stop, continue’ approach. As a result, cost is a real factor to consider when choosing your method, as surveying all your management team could be quite costly! Have an idea of what success will look like at the end of the process, as developing your team in this way will hopefully have a significant impact on your bottom line!

Would you like to know more about how a 360-degree feedback process would work for you and your business? If so, give us a call today!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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