What is a 360 Degree Feedback System? 

It is a system or process that provides a 360 degree view into the skills and abilities of an individual leader within an organization that helps that leader better understand specific areas of strength as well as areas which may require improvementIt provides multiple perspectives on each leaders’ performance and in turn provides a roadmap to start the development process. 

5 Steps to Building a 360 Degree Feedback System to drive results for your organization: 


1. Determine the leadership group who would most benefit from the 360 Degree Feedback process 

  • Spend time with various leadership constituents within the organization to help you understand where the lowest hanging fruit is regarding who will benefit the most individually as well as how that will translate into results for your company. 
  • Think about leaders who would be open to the process and those that would push back at any kind of feedback. Although the leaders who push back may very well be the ones who would benefit the most, it may be easier to start with those that would take it well. It all depends on your unique situationWhen success is shown with the first group of leaders it is much easier to get others to participate in the process subsequently. 

2. Set the stage for utilizing 360 Feedback surveys within your organization. 

  • Setting the stage for the 360 Feedback System to get launched is critical. Make sure the message comes from the top and sells all the benefits of 360 Feedback: 
  • Development plans driven by good data. 
  • Leadership buy-in to real development needs. 
  • Better self-awareness 
  • Stimulate Agile learning 
  • Builds better communication among participants. 
  • Gives a clear full 360 view of performance for a leader. 
  • Encourages positive behavior change. 

3. Select the best tool for administering the 360 Surveys. 

  • Ascertain the most required features your organization needs. 
  • Do you want to administer the surveys yourself? 
  • Do you have your own content, or would you like off the shelf content? 
  • Do you have the resources needed for the type of tool you choose? Self-administered built-it-yourself tools may be less expensive but then you must do all the work yourself. 
  • Review sample reports to determine if the type of reporting used by various tools will fit your needs. 
  • What other resources does the vendor offer? Do they offer coaching? Do they offer feedback report reviews directly with the focal participant? There are any number of resources a vendor may or may not provide – it is much easier to use someone who can meet the majority of your needs.  

4. Identify the raters who will be involved in providing feedback and ratings on the focal participants’ performance. 

  • Raters will be clustered into rater groupsThis helps ensure anonymity within the group which tends to lead to more candid feedbackDepending on the position and the type of company they work at there could be any number of rater groups definedTypically, they include Supervisors, direct reports, peers, self-appraisal and sometimes they include customers and even vendors. 
  • Make sure that a rater can validly evaluate the leader’s performance levels.  For example, do not use a direct report that started on the job 2 weeks ago.  That direct report will not have had a chance to observe the leader’s behavior across enough situations to provide accurate data.   

5. Have a plan for development once the 360 Feedback process has been completed. 

  • Before you ever start the 360 feedback system in motion, be sure to know how you are going to take the information and turn it into a development plan for your focal participant.  
  • Ensure that someone is available to review the feedback report with the participant as a first stepOften, participants misread, and misinterpret their dataThis starts the development process off on the wrong track and closes off the participant to being open to the feedback. 
  • Provide developmental suggestions to make it easy for the leader to put together a development planMany people do not know where to start once they have decided to develop a particular skill. Often, they simply look for a training class to take when in fact 70%+ of development will happen through on the job activitiesBy providing a starting list of suggestions the leader is much more likely to begin development. 
  • Have a mentor or a coach available for the focal participant to utilize as they go through their development plan. This is truly critical to their success as it provides a sounding board for better comprehension of the areas targeted for development as well as an accountability partner to ensure the development plan is moving forward. 

360 degree feedback system is only as good as the effort that goes into making sure you get each of these 5 steps right. Take the time to go through each step methodically – the end results will not only drive results for the organization but also build a culture of continuous improvement that builds tremendous credibility for your associates.  

Related Resource: 360 Degree feedback: Your Complete Guide 

Related Blog Post: Find Hidden Strengths Using 360 Feedback