We specialise in 360 degree feedback and are passionate about working in partnership with our clients to deliver 360 degree feedback programmes which provide performance improvements for both individuals and organisations.

We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality 360 degree feedback programmes and tailor our 360 degree services to each of our client's unique needs.

360 Degree Feedback - Frequently Asked Questions





360 Degree Feedback FAQs

360 degree feedback – the what, why and when

What is 360 degree feedback?

360 degree feedback is a process of comparing self-perceptions of skills, performance or personality attributes to those of others who work closely with the individual. The invited feedback typically comes from managers, colleagues, direct reports in the organisational hierarchy and in some cases external sources such as customers and suppliers or other interested stakeholders.

The goal of 360 degree feedback is to enhance awareness of one's strengths and potential developmental opportunities to enhance personal, team and organisational effectiveness.

"360" refers to the 360 degrees in a circle, an all round view, and 360 degree feedback is also known as multi-rater feedback.

What are some of the major features of 360 degree feedback?

360 degree feedback:

  • typically measures specific behaviours and capabilities associated with job performance and success
  • provides for a confidential process to obtain feedback from others who work closely with the individual (example: one's manager, peers, direct reports)
  • focuses on observed behaviours that can be modified
  • provides graphic, numerical, and open-ended information to be used for developmental purposes in the form of a summary feedback report
  • provides clarity about one’s strengths and insight about potential areas of improvement and development
  • is a process of improving individual or team performance by continuously providing ongoing feedback when administered over time

Can 360 degree feedback be used for performance appraisal?

Yes, 360 degree feedback can be a tool to support performance appraisals. The generation of an individual's performance development plan can be a strategic part of most performance appraisal systems and should be considered to support employee growth and career development.

What are potential uses of 360 degree feedback?

  • Personal development
  • Executive development
  • Supervisory and management training
  • Leadership development
  • Talent management/succession planning
  • Performance management
  • Appraisals
  • Training needs analysis
  • Team building
  • Personnel selection

What are the benefits of 360 degree feedback?

360 degree feedback:

  • provides the participant with an opportunity to learn how others perceive them, leading to increased self-awareness
  • encourages self-development
  • helps increase understanding of the behaviours required to improve both individual and organisational effectiveness
  • promotes an open culture where giving and receiving feedback is the accepted norm
  • increases communication within an organisation
  • clarifies supervisory and managerial expectations
  • is a powerful initiator for individual and team change

What is the focus of 360 degree feedback?

360 degree feedback typically has a development focus:

  • feedback is always anonymous (except for the manager and self)
  • feedback assesses 'perceptions' and not 'reality'
  • it is comprehensive and behaviourally focused

Can 360 degree feedback be used alongside personality profiling tools?

Yes, some organisations find value in combining a skill based 360 degree feedback process with a separate personality profiling tool in their coaching and training programmes. Personality profiling, measuring underlying motives, can help explain why someone might behave as they do, whereas 360 degree feedback provides a more complete picture about how one's behaviour is being perceived by others.

360 degree feedback - ensuring its success

How do I ensure 360 degree feedback success?

Current research on "best practice" in the use of 360 degree feedback suggests that you can optimise results if you utilise the following principles:

  1. Hold the participant and line manager accountable for creating and implementing a development plan
  2. Provide individual coaching to assist in interpreting the multi-rater feedback
  3. Link the 360 degree feedback intervention to a performance management process
  4. Target competencies for 360 degree feedback interventions that are related to strategic business needs

Is 360 degree feedback ever inappropriate?

Use caution in utilising 360 degree feedback processes in the following situations:

  1. If the person participating in 360 degree feedback is very new to the organisation
  2. If there are not enough respondents who truly understand the full scope of the individual's responsibilities
  3. During a time of major change such as just before or after a merger or acquisition
  4. In an environment where there is a high degree of mistrust

360 degree feedback – timescales and process

What is a typical 360 degree feedback time schedule?

Most 360 degree feedback processes share a common time line. The recommended process below will give you an idea of how long each step in rolling out a complete 360 degree feedback process might take:

How often should 360 degree feedback assessments be repeated?

Given that people need time to make change, and then time for that change to be seen by others, we recommend that somewhere between 6 and 18 month intervals are most appropriate. This allows people to work through their development and action plans to create change.

How should 360 degree feedback respondents be chosen?

To gain appropriate and balanced feedback, participants should choose respondents based on:

  • Length of time the respondent has known them (at least 3-4 months)
  • Amount of contact
  • Understanding of the full nature of what the participant does
  • Selecting respondents who work well with the participant as well as those who do not
  • Do not choose colleagues who you know will just give the participant good feedback

How many respondents should be chosen for a 360 degree feedback assessment?

You need only one person who would be specific, candid and totally accurate. However, since we often can't identify this "special" one person we tend to use a sampling approach to asking for feedback. We need a critical mass of feedback to have confidence about how others perceive us, not relying solely on our strongest supporters or critics.

The minimum numbers we recommend are:

  1. Self – 1
  2. Manager – 1
  3. Colleagues – a minimum of 3
  4. Direct reports – a minimum of 2

Should new employees be included in a 360 degree feedback process?

We suggest that employees should be with an organisation approximately 6 - 9 months before participating in a 360 degree feedback process. First impressions can often be erroneous and not very useful for developmental planning processes.

Should participants inform respondents that they have been invited to complete a 360 Degree Feedback questionnaire?

It is a good practice to notify invited respondents that you are participating in the 360 degree feedback process and are interested in their candid and specific comments and perceptions to help you to improve and grow. This communication often helps motivate respondents to be candid and want to participate in the 360 degree feedback process.

What if a participant doesn't have enough respondents in a category?

We utilise an "anonymity protection" process to ensure that enough respondents have completed the online questionnaire to ensure confidentiality. If needed, participants can be encouraged to invite additional respondents or the few that have responded can be categorised and grouped with other respondents to allow for their feedback and input to be included in the summary feedback report.

Who gets a copy of the 360 degree feedback report?

In most 360 degree feedback processes used for developmental purposes, usually the participant is the only person who gets to keep a copy of their individual summary feedback report. In some cases, the report might be made available to an internal or external coach the participant is working with or a trainer/facilitator who is conducting an organisational workshop. It is typical for talent management/succession planning purposes that a copy of the feedback report might also be made available to one's manager or Human Resources. We have a number of report distribution options available, which would be discussed in the 360 degree feedback project set-up phase.

360 degree feedback - designing and choosing the right 360 for maximum impact

How long should the 360 degree feedback questionnaire be?

An effective 360 focuses attention onto the key, high-leverage behaviours that, if employees do them frequently, will lead to maximum business success for the organisation. As a general guide, it takes on average between 30-60 seconds to answer each question and if a respondent is asked to complete on a number of people it's important that respondent fatigue doesn't set in. Best Practice is to have no more than 40 questions, and ideally fewer (to ensure rapid completion and therefore robust samples for everyone's 360s).

Is a customised 360 degree feedback questionnaire better than an off-the-shelf?

Not necessarily. Well designed and psychometrically sound (reliable and valid) off-the-shelf 360 degree feedback questionnaires (such as those available from t-three) can be used effectively if the behaviours are all relevant. If behaviours are not relevant to the organisation, then completing the 360 degree feedback questionnaire could be difficult and not give you the results you are looking for. A customised 360 degree feedback questionnaire can be useful if designed to fit your exact needs and support organisational competency frameworks or development objectives.

How many behavioural statements should I have under each competency?

To maintain reliability you should ensure that you have a minimum of 3 to 4 behaviours for each defined competency.

How can I be sure that my customised 360 degree feedback questionnaire is reliable and valid?

There are many different types of reliability and validity. Ideally, a customised questionnaire should have established scale reliability (e.g., Cronbach's alpha) to ensure that the questions are accurately measuring a single concept. It would also be useful to know whether the customised questionnaire had acceptable test re-test reliability.

Validity is also important for 360 degree feedback questionnaires. There are many different types of "validity" so it is easy to be confused when someone says that their 360 degree feedback tool is "valid." Minimally, a customised questionnaire should have "face validity" so that participants and raters tend to believe that the questions and competencies are relevant to the purpose and goals of the feedback process.

It is possible to establish face validity by running a focus group with a representative group from within your organisation, or by piloting the 360 degree feedback questionnaire before a wider roll-out. It is important to establish whether the 360 degree feedback behaviours are clear and can be answered, that the questionnaire itself is relevant to those individual's participating in the 360 degree feedback project and that all of the organisation's key competencies are being measured.

What scale should I use?

Most 360 degree feedback assessments use one of four different types of rating scales: 1) Frequency; 2) Effectiveness; 3) Potential and 4) Ranking.

Frequency scales typically ask about how often the participant has demonstrated or expressed specific behaviours. The majority of our 360 degree feedback projects use a 1 to 6 frequency scale.

Effectiveness scales ask participants and raters to provide judgments about how "effectively" the individual demonstrates specific competencies and underlying behaviours.

Potential scales are more commonly used for succession planning systems and ask respondents to predict how well the participant might perform in the future or what potential they have to succeed.

Ranking scales typically ask raters to compare to some type of standard (e.g., evaluate the participant compared to the most effective leader that he/she has experienced within their organisation).

A Likert type scale of at least 5 points should be used to give an adequate spread of response. An "Unable to answer" or "Not applicable" response can also be included.

360 degree feedback – confidentiality and security

How confidential is the process?

Confidentiality is an important aspect of 360 degree feedback to both participants and respondents to ensure everyone participates and feels able to answer honestly and candidly. If there are any doubts around confidentiality then people will feel anxious about completing and unsure of the purpose of the 360 degree feedback process and the use of the data.

If respondents are not guaranteed that their responses are anonymous they may not provide accurate responses (in fact, research suggests that ratings are inflated when respondents do not perceive their input is anonymous). To ensure confidentiality it can help to have a neutral person administrating the 360 degree feedback process, either t-three as an external processor or an in-house human resources representative.

How secure is the 360 data?

We are proud to say that we have an extremely secure system which has recently been externally audited and penetration tested by clients such as the BBC and the Financial Services Authority and large global banks.

   ISO Logo

t-three is ISO 27001 certified. This governs our security and data protection procedures and hence offer that protection to our clients.

All of our online questionnaire data collected is encrypted, and unique passwords are assigned through t-three 360's web-based system and data stored on a secure server.