When is the right time to use 360-feedback in your organization? 

It really all boils down to timing and what the company is trying to accomplish. Keep in mind that there truly never is a bad time to do 360-feedback but some times are certainly better than others. Here are 4 triggers that could lead to the decision to undertake a 360-degree survey project.


1. Driven by the Leadership Team

When your leadership team is looking for a way to improve their overall development within the company’s development plan. Many times, this occurs during board meetings or strategic planning sessions. People are an organization’s most valuable asset. Therefore, many organizations realize that development of their people is critical for success and growth. In order to drive a successful development culture, Sr. Leaders within the organization need to communicate the importance of that initiative. And often times there is an executive sponsor driving developmental initiatives which sends a strong message to the rest of the organization outlining the importance of development. Yes, the actual hands-on work gets driven down to others but without support from the top the initiative will never be as successful as it could be.


2. For Career Development

When you have an employee base that is looking for career development as evidenced by companywide surveys. Companies think that the reason everyone who leaves their company is because they can get more money elsewhere. In fact, salary is very far down on the list of why voluntary turnover happens. What is always in the top three reasons why people leave jobs is lack of career development opportunities. Career development is important to employees and therefore companies need a simple way to meet those needs. This doesn’t mean sending people to training classes, or other formal training, most development should happen right on the job. And the 360-feedback process is one of the best ways to accomplish this. In the 360-feedback process individuals get valuable information that forms the basis for a solid individual development plan. And if the organization supports development then each employee will be guided and supported through a development process. This allows the individual to build their skills which in turn provides a bigger return on investment for the organization as well. To learn how 360-feedback improves performance, click here.


3. High Potentials Need Special Attention

When you are trying to take a high-potential employee and give them a chance to see how they can increase their overall development. This occurs many times during the succession planning process or when you have a key employee who needs a better understanding of where his/her development should go from where they are. Whether formally, or informally, every organization has identified their “high potential” employees. This means that the organization feels this individual can progress to higher levels in the organization. This does not mean that they are ready for higher-level leadership jobs immediately, but it does mean their development should happen at a more rapid pace. This includes giving him/her special projects, increased opportunity for development, access to stretch assignments, rob rotation, etc. One great way to facilitate this rapid development is by putting these individuals through a 360-feedback process. The focus of the content in a high potential’s 360 survey can focus on competencies that will be required in the next level job for which he/she is a candidate.


4. Performance Appraisals Need Better/More Information

Your company wants to gather additional data for the performance review and appraisal process. In other words, the organization feels like more than just the immediate manager should have input into how well a person is doing on the job. The majority of uses of the 360-feedback process is development. With good data and the right process good development decisions can be made, that in turn lead to improved performance by the individual. But 360-degree surveys have another use. With good data good decisions can be made and the same 360-degree survey can be used in a more formal appraisal and evaluation system within the organization. Typically, performance appraisals are done by the employee’s immediate manager. Yes, that manager may ask some others for their input, but it is usually in an informal way. Typically, the data collected are anecdotal stories and narrative thoughts on the person’s performance. The 360 survey provides a way to systematically collect quantitative data on someone’s performance that can be integrated into the formal ratings. There are some inherent risks in using 360 surveys this way, which become exacerbated if the content and process is not high quality. When used for evaluation there are also additional uses beyond just performance appraisals. This same process and data can be used for succession planning, promotion decisions, and much more.



Obviously, there are many more triggers that necessitate the need for a 360-feedback survey process. And there are certain general parameters that will help make the 360 process more successful. Factors such as the quality of the content (i.e., statements rated), the process for delivering, and digging deep into, feedback reports, and availability of developmental options, all have an impact on the magnitude of the return on investment a company realizes when conducting a 360 survey. The 360-feedback survey process is a solution that fits many different organizational needs. But remember content matters, process matters, and communication matters. Get the most out of your 360 process by doing it RIGHT. For a complete 360 degree feedback guide to running a successful 360-feedback program be sure to click here.