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360 degree feedback – Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for good questions to ask in a 360 degree feedback survey? Click here
Or for best practice when developing questionnaires for 360° feedback. Click here

About 360 degree feedback

What is 360 Degree Feedback?
What are the advantages of 360 Degree Feedback?
Are there other names for 360 Degree Feedback?
How is 360 Appraisal different from Personality Profiling?
Who are the various participants in a 360 Degree Appraisal?
How can you verify the validity and reliability of a 360 report?
What is a Competency Framework and how do I know if it is valid?
What are Levels in Competency Frameworks?
Why are Competency Frameworks used for 360 Degree Feedback?
Can 360 Degree Feedback be used in place of traditional Performance Reviews?
Are there circumstances where 360 Degree Feedback should not be used?
Is confidentiality important for 360 Degree Feedback?
How many companies are using 360 Degree Feedback?
What type of information should be targeted?

Implementation of 360 degree feedback

Can I do 360 Degree Feedback on paper?
Why use Internet based 360 Degree Feedback?
What is the hardest part of doing 360 Degree Feedback?
What is the ideal number of respondents for 360 Degree Feedback?
What are good questions to ask in 360 Degree Feedback?
What makes a good 360 Degree Feedback Questionnaire?
What makes a good 360 Feedback Report?
Is it necessary to customize the survey or are standard questionnaires OK?
What is the best way to select the respondents?
How often should 360 Degree Feedback be performed?
Who gets a copy of the feedback report?
How do I write good questions for the 360 survey?
How do I know if my organization is ready for 360 Degree Feedback?
How do you introduce 360-degree feedback to a potentially resistant organisation?

Why you should choose Appraisal360 as your 360 degree feedback provider

What do I need to be able to use Appraisal360?
What is Pay-As-You-Go 360 Feedback?
Can I use Appraisal360 for running 360 Feedback Projects?
What are the different levels in the Appraisal360 profiles?
Do you provide competency frameworks with Appraisal360?
Are your competencies validated?
Can I use my own competency framework with Appraisal360?
How can I get more information on Appraisal360?

About 360 degree feedback

What is 360 Degree Feedback?

Wikipedia defines 360 degree feedback as follows:-

In human resources, 360-degree feedback is employee development feedback that comes from all around the employee. The feedback would come from subordinates, peers and managers in the organisational hierarchy, as well as a self-assessment, and in some cases external sources such as customers and suppliers or other interested stakeholders. (‘360′ refers to the 360 degrees in a circle.)

You can also read our article about what is 360 degree feedback?

What are the advantages of 360 Degree Feedback?
To the individual:

  • Helps individuals gain a realistic view of how others perceive them
  • Can uncover hidden lights and blind spots
  • Feedback coming from a number of different people is more likely to be accepted
  • Inspires people to take ownership of their own learning and development
  • Provides feedback in a quantifiable form on a structured range of behaviours

To the team:

  • Increases communication between team members
  • higher levels of trust and better communication as individuals identify the causes of breakdowns
  • It helps people understand how their behaviour influences both their own personal effectiveness and how they impact the smooth running of the organisation.
  • Supports teamwork by involving team members in the development process
  • Increased team effectiveness

To the organization:

  • Reinforced corporate culture by linking survey items to organizational leadership competencies and company values
  • Better career development planning and implementation for employees
  • Improves customer service by having customers contribute to the evaluation process
  • Helps with training needs analysis

Are there other names for 360 Degree Feedback?
360 Degree Feedback is also known as multi-rater feedback’, ‘multi-source feedback’, ‘multi-source assessment’ or 360 Degree Appraisal.

How is 360 Appraisal different from Personality Profiling?
Psychometric Profiling tools such as Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), DISC (Thomas International) or Forte Communications Style Profile work by asking you to choose a number of preferences and then tries to predict how you are likely to behave in different situations. 360 Degree Feedback uses structured questions to ask a number of people who know you well for observations about your real life behaviour.

Psychometric Profiling measures your preferences and then predicts how you are likely to choose to behave, while 360 Degree Feedback focuses on your observed behavioural competencies.

In our experience the two combined together provide and incredibly powerful resource for both the individual and the organisation.

Who are the various participants in a 360 Degree Appraisal?

  • The Subject or Appraisee is the person who the feedback is about
  • The Respondents or Raters are the people who are giving feedback (e.g colleagues, peers, team members, customers, associates)
  • The Subject will generally also complete a Self Perception questionnaire which is put alongside the feedback from the Raters
  • The Feedback is collated into a Report – generally by a trusted third party
  • The process may be overseen by a Manager, Coach, Trainer or Mentor

How can you verify the validity and reliability of a 360 report?
The process of compiling a 360 Degree Feedback report should be transparent – it needs to be clear where the figures have come from and how the different answers have been calculated. You should steer clear of reports which attempt to over analyse the data or where it is not clear how the conclusions derive from the original feedback data. 

What is a Competency Framework and how do I know if it is valid?
In this context Competencies have headings like ‘analytical thinking’, ‘customer focus’, ‘commercial awareness’, ‘communication skills’. Each competency can be described in terms of a variety of observable behaviours which contribute to the overall competency. The competency framework for a particular role describes the qualities of the ideal person for that role. By inspecting a competency framework you should be able to tell quite easily if it is suitable for the jobs and situations you are interested in.

What are Levels in Competency Frameworks?
Different roles require different levels of expertise even though the area of competency may be the same. For example: requirements of a Managing Director’s behaviour in terms of Commercial Awareness would be different from an office worker’s. In 360 Degree Feedback this would be reflected in the different questions that would be asked.

Why are Competency Frameworks used for 360 Degree Feedback?
is is important that feedback is well rounded and covers all the types of behaviour that are required in a particular job role rather than focussing on one or two issues. Competency Frameworks provide that structure and ensure the feedback is balanced across the range of competencies.

Can 360 Degree Feedback be used in place of traditional Performance Reviews?
Not recommended. Firstly the respondents are not necessarily in a position to assess your performance in terms of achievement of objectives. And secondly it places unfair pressure on them when what you really need is their honest feedback. However, your 360 Degree Feedback report may be a useful input to your Performance Review and Professional Development Plan.

Are there circumstances where 360 Degree Feedback should not be used?
Yes. 360 Degree Feedback is a powerful tool and it should not be used in a way which is likely to damage trust between colleagues – for example to try and manage someone out of a job or justify some sort of disciplinary action. Also it should be credible that the purpose of the exercise is a supportive one designed to help people succeed. It should not be used if there is no intention of helping the appraisee to develop in the issue that it raises.

Is confidentiality important for 360 Degree Feedback?
Maybe. In the ideal situation people are happy to give feedback and don’t mind it being known what they said. However, in the real world most people feel that a degree of anonymity allows them to be honest without fear of any difficulty resulting from what they might say.

How many companies are using 360 Degree Feedback?
Hard to say. Most major companies now routinely use 360 Degree Feedback and it is commonly used in training and coaching.

What type of information should be targeted?
It is important that the questions in the 360 Degree Feedback survey target real observable behaviour and skills rather than subjective points of view. The questions should be relevant to the subject’s job or situation and address all the main items in the Competency Framework for that role.

Implementation of 360 Degree Feedback

What media can be used to conduct 360 Degree Feedback?
360 can be implemented on paper, using a stand alone computer running 360 feedback software or on a web based system either on the internet or on the company’s internal intranet – although the latter may prevent people from outside the company (customers or associates) from participating.

Can I do 360 Degree Feedback on paper?
Yes. But the time and effort required to send out questionnaires, chase them up, transcribe the answers and compile the reports is generally prohibitive. Added to which there is the risk of clerical errors and respondents may feel that handing in a paper questionnaire they have filed in may compromise their anonymity.

Why use Internet based 360 Degree Feedback?
Convenience, speed and cost. You can choose respondents anywhere in the world who have web access and you can monitor progress in filling in forms. Reports can be easily delivered electronically and there is no chance of clerical errors. Furthermore there is no need to install any additional software on your own computers as a standard web browser is all that is required.

What is the hardest part of doing 360 Degree Feedback?
Without doubt the hardest part of the process is making sure that people fill in their forms! Using an internet based 360 Degree Feedback system allows you to keep an eye on progress and send reminder emails with ease.

What is the ideal number of respondents for 360 Degree Feedback?
It is important to strike a balance between having enough respondents to give representative feedback and making too much work for not enough benefit. Bear in mind that if you are running a 360 Degree Feedback project and you have too many respondents for each subject then a large number of questionnaires will be generated and people will get fed up of filling them. Also some subjects may feel that there aren’t enough people who know them well enough to give quality feedback. All things considered six respondents is usually about right. It can work well if the trainer asks the subject for a larger number of potential respondents and then chooses six at random.

What are good questions to ask in 360 Degree Feedback?
360 Degree Feedback questions should always centre around observable behaviour rather than subjective things which are hard to quantify.

What makes a good 360 Degree Feedback Questionnaire?
First of all the questions should be objective – and ask about easily identifiable behaviour rather than subjective points of view and attitudes which are hard to quantify. The questions must be unambiguous and easy to understand by the respondents. They must be objective and non-emotive. And they must elicit information which is useful to the appraisee.

How long should the survey be?
This is a matter of balance between having sufficient questions to cover all the relevant points and having too many so that people get bored filling them in. In practice each competency needs a minimum of 6-8 supporting questions and the full questionnaire is likely to be somewhere between 60 and 100 multiple choice questions and a couple of free questions as well.

What makes a good 360 Feedback Report?
The simpler and more transparent the better. It is important that the appraisee can easily see where the results have come from and focus on the points that have been raised. It is a big mistake to attempt to over analyse the data because it over-complicates and reduces the impact of the feedback.

Is it necessary to customize the survey or are standard questionnaires OK?
It depends. For most professional positions the competencies required are well documented and off the shelf questionnaires are likely to be OK – especially if they have a degree of flexibility built in. However, if the organisation has its own particular house style or the job is a very specialised on then customised questionnaires may be required.

What is the best way to select the respondents?
The two most important factors are that they know the appraisee sufficiently well to be able to answer the questions with some degree of authority and that they will be honest. They should be people who the appraisee trusts and respects, they should be from a cross section of the people that the appraisee comes into contact with and they should not be under any pressure to mark in any particular way.

How often should 360 Degree Feedback be performed?
As a rule of thumb something between 6-12 months should be the minimum period between repeating the exercise. It is also good practice to perform 360 feedback at a different time of year to the Annual Performance Review to avoid confusing the purpose of the two.

Who gets a copy of the feedback report?
In all cases the appraisee should get a copy of the report for his or her development. In many cases it will not be appropriate for the direct manager to see it unless the appraisee chooses to show it, but a trusted third party or mentor may be needed to help the appraisee work through the issues raised.

How do I write good questions for the 360 survey?
Good questions must be based around a solid competency framework which is appropriate to the appraisee’s job or circumstances. They must be objective, non-emotive and relate to observable behaviours. They must also be pitched at a level of competency appropriate to the appraisee’s seniority.

How do I know if my organisation is ready for 360 Degree Feedback?
360 feedback works best in a supportive honest climate. Introducing it into an organisation that runs a blame culture is not appropriate.

How do you introduce 360-degree feedback to a potentially resistant organisation?
Like all change management 360 feedback has to be introduced appropriately and at the right time. A discussion of all the issues is outside the scope of this FAQ.

 

Why you should choose Appraisal360 as your 360 degree feedback provider

What do I need to be able to use Appraisal360?
A internet web browser and an email account are all you need. There is no software to install, no dongles and no changes to your computer.

What is Pay-As-You-Go 360 Feedback?
We believe in making 360 Degree Feedback easily accessible – so our Indiviual360 and Bundle360 service have no setup charge and you pay only for what and when you use. We have other options available for larger users.

Can I use Appraisal360 for running 360 Feedback Projects?
Yes, Appraisal360 comes with the management tools you need to run a 360 Degree Feedback project. For larger users can supply a variety of management and internal accounting options.

What are the different levels in the Appraisal360 profiles?
These are in recognition of the fact that a particular competency may be appropriate at different levels (e.g. both a middle manager and a director will require commercial awareness) but the depth and level of expertise needed may be significantly different.

Do you provide competency frameworks with Appraisal360?
Yes, we provide a range of 360 off the shelf competency frameworks that are suitable for most organisations. Some of them are flexible in that they contain mandatory core competencies and optional competencies that can be selected to suit the individual concerned. For more specialised applications we can design a competency framework for you – or use yours if you have one.

How can I get more information on Appraisal360?
You can contact Appraisal360 via the website and we will gladly give you an online demonstration or send you more information. You can also check our downloads area.