360 Degree Feedback — What are the Benefits and Limitations of using it?

Dom Barnard
May 22, 2018 · 7 min read

Providing feedback for development is useful for all employees because it helps them understand their strengths and weaknesses and how to progress in their career. Using a 360 degree feedback system is one of the methods for gathering and providing this information. In this article, we discuss 360 degree feedback, including its benefits and limitations.

What is 360 degree feedback?

360 degree feedback, also known as multi-rater feedback, is a system in which anonymous feedback is gathered about a member of staff from various people they have working relationships with. This is usually their managers, peers, direct reports, subordinates — hence the name “360 degree”. It’s designed so a range of people can share their opinion to provide a well-rounded view on the individual.

It’s used mostly as a development tool because it provides information about a subject’s work competencies, behaviour and working relationships. It’s also mainly used for individuals higher up in the organisation’s hierarchy.

The 360 feedback system process

Administering the survey:

  • Around 6–10 respondents complete an anonymous online feedback form.

Post-survey completion:

  • Individual answers cannot be identified as the feedback is provided as averages from the different rating groups.

360 degree feedback strengths

If a 360 feedback system is implemented well, it can have a number of benefits for the individual, their team and the organisation:

  • Valuable development tool: The 360 feedback system shows the subject the differences between how they see themselves and how others see them. This increases their self-awareness which means that the subject is more conscious of their personality, strengths, weakness, beliefs, motivations etc. With this information they can adjust their behaviour and identify their training needs. Consequently, the subject can become more effective in their role and for the role they may be aiming for.

360 degree feedback weaknesses

If a 360 degree feedback system is implemented poorly, this can create distrust, conflict and low motivation amongst the team:

  • Conflicting feedback: Feedback can be conflicting and there is no way to be sure which feedback is more accurate.

Example 360 degree feedback questions

Here are some example 360 degree feedback competency based questions.

Please rate (Subject’s Name/Yourself) on self-awareness relative to peers:

  • Keeps control of his/her emotions and behaviour, even when involved in high-pressure situations

Please rate (Subject’s Name/Yourself) in terms of drive for results relative to peers:

  • Is focused on the needs of the customer

Please rate (Subject’s Name/Yourself) proficiency in leadership relative to peers:

  • Inspires continuous growth and learning in others

Please rate (Subject’s Name/Yourself) ability with interpersonal communication:

  • Communicates openly/effectively with others

Please rate (Subject’s Name/Yourself) ability with teamwork:

  • Works well in a team

For more of these questions, visit qualtrics.com.

360 degree feedback has multiple weaknesses but they are mainly avoidable. This is because most of these weaknesses are mistakes linked to how the system has been explained and executed.

If effective training has been provided and there is a clear plan of how the 360 degree feedback will be used then these problems disappear, thus providing an organisation with an anonymous, reliable and valid way of providing feedback for personal development.

Originally published at virtualspeech.com.

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Dom Barnard

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VirtualSpeech

Award-winning off-the-shelf training courses designed to improve skills in the most efficient way. We combine e-learning with VR training and simulations so you can learn from experience in realistic immersive scenarios.