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The Definitive Guide to 360 Degree Feedback

Learning and Development | 6 Min Read

Unlocking the power of 360-degree feedback: A complete overview


Gathering employee feedback regarding performance and areas of improvement is a vital part of employee evaluation and the learning and development cycle. It helps the managerial team and employees understand areas of weakness and strengths while charting career growth.

One popular approach that organizations use to gather this information is 360-degree feedback. This method gives a broader and more balanced viewpoint about the employee and their work.


What is 360-degree feedback?

As mentioned above, 360-degree feedback is a method or process through which organizations gather feedback for employee evaluation. Here, employees of an organization anonymously receive feedback from the people they closely work with, typically managers, colleagues, subordinates, and sometimes even customers. Typically, 360-degree feedback consists of a questionnaire that every rater, including the employee being evaluated, rates on a scale and adds remarks and comments to support their rating.

The purpose of 360-degree feedback is to offer a holistic employee perspective. Every competency required for the role under consideration is tied to one or more statements in the survey. Thus, this feedback helps measure an employee’s readiness level on all the competencies required to succeed in that particular role. It aids in gauging not just the apparent but also the employees’ hidden strengths and weaknesses.

More importantly, anonymous feedback enables employees to get broader input without focusing on the intricacies of what and how each rater rated them


360-degree appraisal advantages and disadvantages

The advantages of 360-degree feedback

The importance of 360-degree feedback lies in creating a bridge between individual developmental goals and the organization’s growth and vision. It evaluates employees beyond their performance and focuses on their behavioral competencies and aptitude.

Here are some key advantages of 360-degree feedback:

  • Provides a complete view of employees, highlighting their accomplishments.
  • Promotes transparency within an organization.
  • Aligns employees with organizational goals and vision.
  • Considers feedback from external stakeholders, such as customers, allowing organizations to understand their expectations and improving stakeholders' satisfaction.
  • Improves communication, reducing bias and discrimination.
  • Provides a holistic picture.

The disadvantages of 360-degree feedback

When not implemented correctly, 360-degree fails at the most fundamental level i.e., providing a clear picture of an employee’s strengths and weaknesses.

Here are some disadvantages of 360-degree feedback organizations must consider before implementing it at their organization:

  • 360-degree feedback can impact employee relationships if the feedback is critical.
  • The credibility of the feedback might be affected by personal bias and prejudices.
  • Manually implementing 360-degree feedback is time and resource intensive.
  • There might be confidentiality concerns among feedback givers, affecting the whole exercise.
  • The anonymity of feedback givers can lead to misuse of the survey.
  • Cultural and contextual differences may affect 360-degree feedback.


Use cases of 360-degree feedback assessment

The importance of 360-degree feedback lies in its multiple use cases, some of which are:

1. Reskilling and development

360-degree feedback is an excellent developmental tool that helps identify training needs and improvement areas. It gives employees insights into how developing specific competencies and skills can help them excel at their jobs.

The feedback collated from the manager, co-workers, and others, with a comprehensive competency-based questionnaire, carefully presents strengths as well as gaps in an employee’s abilities. The 360-review process additionally motivates employees to develop and achieve their training goals continually.

360-degree feedback tool helps determine team or group development needs, which can alleviate an organization’s collective performance. It is an effective way to gauge training needs and encourage employees to work on them with individual development plans.

2. Organizational planning: High-potential identification, succession planning, and leadership development

Identifying an organization’s most valuable employees is often a challenge. 360-degree feedback, owing to its full view of an employee from multiple hierarchies and vantage points- supervisor, subordinates, peers, and customers- can help organizations find their high-potential employees. The evaluation aids in identifying the obvious competencies required to succeed in an advanced role, such as effective decision-making, strategic problem-solving, risk-taking appetite, result orientation, propensity to lead, adaptability, agility, etc.

3. Performance appraisals

360-degree feedback is also used as a performance appraisal tool. It captures feedback from various perspectives and lends enhanced objectivity to the appraisal process because a single point of feedback may lead to subjectivity and bias.

Active involvement of the employee is another notable upside of using 360-degree feedback for performance appraisals. Every rater in the process shares an equal weightage rather than the manager’s feedback and ratings getting more importance, making the process fair and equitable.


How to choose the best 360-degree feedback tool

Features to assess in a 360-degree feedback tool

There are various 360 feedback tools on the market that help organizations conduct systematic and effective 360-degree feedback. The number of choices may be overwhelming, but here is what organizations should consider when selecting a 360-degree feedback tool:


Survey Design: Content


  • The ability to choose from available questionnaires or choose customized content per the role, competencies, and other organizational requirements.
  • Multiple language support.
  • A competency framework for every role and level.


Survey Execution: Platform


For administrators

  • Bulk uploading of participants on the dashboard: No need to maintain different Excel sheets for different participants. Make a list in Excel and upload it onto the platform. The dashboard will do the rest.
  • Custom or templatized invitation emails and reminders for a higher completion rate: Invite participants regularly and automatically follow up with them through automated emails and reminders.
  • Progress tracking of all surveys on a single dashboard: Easy access to live updates and a detailed activity log to track all the critical events performed – who has completed the survey or how close they are to finishing it.
  • Auto-save: Automatically saving responses to promote ease of use, drive better completion rates and prevent any data loss.

For participants

  • Ease of accessibility: Mobile-friendly features that can be accessed on the go save time and result in higher completion rates.
  • Great employee experience: Employee-friendly features such as auto-save and a single consolidated email with all the necessary information.


Survey Analysis: Reports


  • Compilation of reports and data: Intuitive, easy-to-understand and analytical reports that are customizable to highlight different aspects, such as:
    • Hidden strengths: Where the employees rated themselves lower than the average rating of other respondents.
    • Known strengths: Areas where the employee received the highest rating.
    • Areas of improvement: Areas where the employee received the lowest ratings.
    • Automated reports: Automailing of results to individuals and managers as defined.
    • Benchmarking of competencies for a more optimized result.


360-degree feedback process

The 360-degree feedback process is carried out in three core steps:

Infographic 1

Designing the survey


The first step involves deciding who will participate in the survey. All those directly impacted by or related to the employee’s work should be involved in the 360-degree feedback process. Usually, the employee, i.e., the feedback seeker, along with the HR or their manager, chooses a balanced panel of raters.

Often, the following people or a subset of them are involved in the process:

  • The employee for self-review
  • Manager
  • Subordinates or direct reportees
  • Colleagues, peers, or team-mates for peer review
  • Other internal or external parties, such as clients

Once the raters are agreed upon, survey designing starts. While organizations can create custom survey questions depending on their needs, it is advised that they use a web-based application, such as Mercer | Mettl’s 360 Degree Feedback tool. The tool simplifies the whole process as companies can choose from a library of pre-built 360 feedback templates developed by experts. Further, Mercer | Mettl allows organizations to create fully customized feedback templates aligned with organizational requirements, with questions designed to assess targeted groups and focused competencies.


Executing the survey


The next step is to roll out the survey. This involves asking the selected panel of raters to answer the questionnaire. However, a low completion rate is a critical challenge that organizations face when administering this step manually.

Companies can overcome this challenge by employing Mercer | Mettl’s 360 Degree Feedback tool. With its easy-to-use interface and features, the tool is designed to enhance the survey completion rate. Mercer | Mettl’s 360 Degree Feedback allows organizations to quickly add all the participants – employees and raters – in bulk.

The tool also allows personalized and automated emails to be sent to different stakeholders, with scheduled reminders and follow-ups to increase participation and streamline the process. Furthermore, the single dashboard allows for tracking the status of all respondents, adding more participants, sending ad-hoc reminders, downloading reports, and much more.


Analyzing the survey


The final step of 360-degree feedback is collecting and analyzing all the results at individual, role, and department levels to create actionable developmental plans. As this is the most critical part of the 360-feedback process, organizations must have a team or reach out to well-qualified psychometricians to create reports with actionable insights.

A good 360-degree feedback report should have a detailed competency summary, open-ended feedback, a personal development plan, and offer powerful customizations.

With Mercer | Mettl’s 360 Degree Feedback tool, organizations can automate this step and get auto-graded and customizable reports, significantly increasing the efficiency of the process and making it more objective and seamless. Further, the tool has an additional feature known as ‘group analytics,’ through which organizations can gauge the relationship shared among various people from different departments, geographical locations, experience levels, etc.



A well-rounded and accurate employee evaluation method is critical for organizational and employee growth. The 360-degree feedback method provides a fuller picture, helping organizations and managers understand their employees’ strengths and weaknesses and create a development plan aligned with the organizational goals.



How is 360-degree feedback implemented?

What is the purpose of 360-degree feedback?

What are the pros of 360-degree feedback?

How can 360-degree feedback improve performance?

How do you respond to 360-degree feedback?

Originally published December 24 2018, Updated September 6 2023

Vaishali Parnami

Written by

Vaishali has been working as a content creator at Mercer | Mettl since 2022. Her deep understanding and hands-on experience in curating content for education and B2B companies help her find innovative solutions for key business content requirements. She uses her expertise, creative writing style, and industry knowledge to improve brand communications.

360 Degree Feedback

Discover all about 360 degree feedback

360 degree feedback is a method of collecting anonymous feedback about an employee from multiple sources - manager, peers, subordinates - for appraisals and organizational planning. 360 degree feedback empowers organizations to make better people decisions.

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