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The What, Why, and How of 360 Degree Feedback

What Is 360 Degree Feedback?

360-degree feedback is a modern method of performance appraisal that helps organizations determine how an employee performs at his or her workplace. It presents a clear picture of the employee’s performance, skills, and behavior along with the organizational environment. The performance appraisal system supports the organization for being adaptive and flexible according to the needs of their workforce. While the West uses 360 degree questionnaire for identifying training needs, a majority of South East Asia uses it for performance appraisal.

The opinions and views are generally taken from superiors, peers, subordinates or customers. Once the performance appraisal feedback is captured and analyzed, it is shared with the employees to further their personal development goals. Additionally, the compiled report promotes self-awareness by suggesting development programs customized as per individuals. The 360 degree performance appraisal questionnaire are kept anonymous to refrain from any kind of bias or personal differences between feedback seeker and feedback providers except for manager’s feedback in most cases.

360 degree feedback is also known by other terms such as multi-source assessment or multi-rater feedback. Even though a number of organizations have been using performance appraisal methods for a long time, they have not been able to unveil their full potential. The issues can range from selecting the right tool to accurately implementing it across all departments.  If performance appraisal systems are precisely implemented, they have the potential to increase profitability, productivity and ensure better turnover rates. This is so because expert counseling, coaching or training, as a result of the feedback given by outside consultant enhances overall workforce efficiency.


“Failure is constructive feedback that tells you to try a different approach to accomplish what you want.”

In his book Wealth for All: Living a Life of Success at the Edge of Your Ability, Idowu Koyenikan emphasizes on adopting a different approach after hitting rock bottom. Persistence is what leads one to meet desired goals because efforts never go in vain. Often, when organizations do not reap the proposed benefits of a feedback tool, they either shun it away entirely or do not look out for better options. Not always, the tool efficiency needs to be blamed. Sometimes, the issue in yielding quality results rests on the way HRs implement the feedback, process of performance appraisal.

How do I give 360 degree feedback?

How do you analyze 360 feedback?

Are 360 reviews effective?

Well, do not worry!

Let’s quickly take you through a few easy steps to successfully conduct 360 degree feedback in your organization.

How to Conduct 360 Degree Feedback?

Here’s how to conduct 360 degree appraisal:

1. Define the Objective

Having a vision is perhaps the first and most important step for conducting the 360 degree feedback process. Before setting out on the voyage to adopt any 360 degree feedback process, setting a clear objective is of the essence. As one organization is different from the other, so is the difference in the work culture, ethics, and values. Hence, it becomes imperative to define the objective of conducting the feedback survey. Having an aim goes a long way in determining how successful your feedback tool turns out to be. The 360 degree questionnaire can be rolled out for determining performance appraisal, skill gap and hi-potential identification or succession planning. Accordingly, the workflow of participants is charted out.

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2. Decide the Participants

Participants, also known as feedback providers or raters should be based on the feedback seeker’s job responsibilities and the frequency of his or her communication with the raters. This will help in getting relevant and accurate feedback. HRs should strike a balance between those who provide both positive and critical feedback. Feedback providers can be classified into various groups including subordinates, peers, managers or customers. Additionally, the seeker’s feedback is also taken into consideration to find any disconnect between what he thinks of his work and others opinion. When compiled and analyzed, the feedback from all these groups proves beneficial for both the company and the individual.

3. Outline Competency Framework

Certain competencies, be it behavioral or job-role based are integral to every firm. They vary with individuals, job type, industry or other factors. To understand the company dynamics through in-person interactions with HRs or functional heads, expert psychometricians create a competency framework prevalent in the industry. Once the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) finalize a set of competencies to map employees on, they identify behavioral indicators associated with those competencies. The indicators reflect how employees handle stress, manage high priority tasks, deal with ambiguous situations and other factors that affect their performance and overall productivity.

4. Prepare Relevant Questionnaire

Preparing survey questions is vital in assessing employee performance or identifying training needs on individual or group level. Since experts have a keen eye for detail, they come up with questions to analyze employee performance and behavior. In order to meet this goal, SMEs carefully design a questionnaire which helps in accurately evaluating feedback seekers. The right set of questions go a long way in creating self-awareness which in-turn makes employees work on their weak areas. Without expert assistance, the feedback mechanism would render inaccurate results. Hence, skilled psychometricians should be consulted to create questions as per relevant competencies.

5. Familiarize the Employees

The dilemma to select the right 360 Degree Appraisals can be resolved through market research. Once that is sorted, it’s time to break the news to your employees. Research indicates that it is critical to familiarize the employees as to what is coming before blasting them with feedback survey e-mailers. A couple of sessions would be required to introduce the feedback system to employees, how it would benefit them and the organization. Undoubtedly, there would be apprehensions that people will start evaluating them, but as HRs, it is your responsibility to make them understand that the feedbacks are cumulative views based on observation and not judgment. A small presentation of how the tool works create awareness in your existing workforce. Sessions act as two-way communication, an awareness medium followed by question and answer round which resolves most of the issues concerning the new mechanism.

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6. Pilot the Survey

After sensitizing the employees, make the 360 degree performance appraisal questionnaire live for a particular group or department including human resources. Start filling out the survey for a teammate and rate him or as based on the questions. It would be an occasion to identify any repetitions, confusing questions or missing items. Try the same activity on a particular department. After they are done filling out the sample survey, ask them for specific comments, any plus or minus points associated with the feedback. This practice will help in figuring out any potential problems which can be nipped in the bud. Secondly, pilot participants can also act as an agent in propagating the new feedback mechanism within the organization.

7. Provide Comprehensive Reports

An effective 360 degree questionnaire culminates with the final report. This is why it is of utmost importance that the results of 360 degree performance appraisal questionnaire are presented in a coherent and concise manner. Employees should easily be able to understand where their strengths and weaknesses lie. This will urge your workforce to focus their development goals in order to get maximum output. 360 reports should explain the purpose and guide individuals to look back and use the information for their development journey. While individual reports are good for self-awareness, group-level analysis helps in training needs identification, group insights being much more actionable.

Features of a Robust 360 Degree Performance Appraisal


Selecting the right 360 degree questionnaire for your organization can become tricky since each organizational need is unique. However, in looking out for a 360 assessment tool, the well-being of both the institution and its employees should be taken into consideration.  Because, after all, it is the employees who make an organization. A good 360 performance appraisal tool is one that seamlessly integrates with your workflow and efficiently manages your performance management process. The other essential features of a star employee performance appraisal are:

i) Affordable & Easy Sign Up

Every organization wishes to adopt a cost-effective 360 degree feedback appraisal questionnaire, considering the performance appraisal tool is used for a majority of employees for different reasons. If the tool is not affordable, it will incur extra costs, ultimately affecting the overall budget. A pocket-friendly tool gives you the option to pay online through net banking, e-wallets, credit, or debit cards, which further simplifies the process. An easy sign-up platform like any other website becomes easier to use.

ii) 24×7 Support

Participants may take the survey either during office hours or at home since it is impossible to set rigid timelines. But what if the candidate faces some issue at midnight when no one is available for assistance? Well, do not worry. A reliable 360 degree questionnaire comes to the rescue by providing 24×7 support. Whenever participants face trouble filling the survey, they can send an e-mail or call on toll-free numbers to seek help from subject matters.

iii) Easy to Use

User interphase of the platform is what the creates first impression on the survey participants. A good 360 degree performance appraisal questionnaire does not look cluttered, rather neat and simple to understand. The easy navigability removes the scope of pending support requests or delays. It gives you a holistic view of the number of participants, status and progress of the survey.


Implementing 360 degree feedback process in organizations is a smart investment and a business decision as it promotes self-awareness and creates transparency in communications. The benefits of using 360 degree feedback process are increased transparency among the internal team via trust, sharing, and increased clarity towards expected behaviors and goals. A well-crafted 360 degree feedback tool and process can boost overall team performance.

How Mercer | Mettl Can Help?

Mercer | Mettl has a one-stop solution for all your 360 degree performance evaluation needs. It offers 3 effective tools to evaluate employee’s potential and abilities. Mentioned below are the benefits of 360 degree feedback system:

Objectives of 360 Degree Performance Appraisal

Performance Appraisal

The evaluation tool provides you overall employees’ perspective in the form of a seamless platform, intuitive reports, and customizable surveys.

  • Seamless Platform: Eliminates operational hassles from the 360 degree feedback process by the quick set-up, effortless administration, and automated reminders.
  • Intuitive Reports: Mercer | Mettl helps in preparing beautiful reports and dashboards with clear and actionable information. It consists of comprehensive feedback reports, group reports, and easy-to-understand dashboards.
  • Customizable Survey: It helps you customize questions to competencies to reports. Mercer | Mettl will help you build custom questionnaires, an exhaustive competency library, and multiple question types.

You can visit the link for more details on Performance Appraisal.

Training Needs Identification

The assessment tool helps in identifying gaps in the behavioral traits of an employee as perceived by other stakeholders.

It Is Divided into 3 Pillars:
Why to Train

Mercer | Mettl identifies and develop key competencies in employees to achieve business goals

Who to Train

It helps in identifying the skill gap for each employee based on the competency levels

What to Train

It helps in designing a customized training plan based on individual skill gaps and training needs

Apart from that Mercer | Mettl helps you in curating the right training program for your organization. It is divided into 3 parts:

Skill-based: It helps in identifying employee’s unique skill sets required to succeed in every job role and function.

Behavior-based: It identifies behavioral gaps that needs to be worked upon employees. They are basically the dominant predictor for most roles.

Future-Proofing: It augments the learning agility within the organization by identifying upcoming skills to develop in the workforce.

For more details on this, visit the link.

Succession Planning

This tool understands behavioral dynamics observed on-the-job and improves the developmental steps.

Mercer | Mettl can help you plan Succession Planning in the following way:

  • Identify: It defines key competencies required to succeed in critical roles and nominate candidates. 
  • Assess: Valid and reliable tools such as Psychometric, Aptitude Assessment, Assessment and Development Centers, and 360 Degree Performance Evaluation is used to assess candidate readiness on key competencies. 
  • Plan: Customized reports are used to shortlist suitable candidates for succession.

Act: There is a check on the growth of selected candidates.

About Mercer | Mettl

At Mercer I Mettl, our mission is to enable organizations to build winning teams by making credible people decisions across two key areas: Acquisition and Development. Since our inception in 2009, we have partnered with 2900+ corporates, 31 sector skill councils/government departments, and 15+ educational institutions across 90+ countries.

Mettl was acquired by Mercer in 2018, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth, and career, and a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people.

For more information, visit www.mettl.com. Follow Mercer | Mettl on LinkedIn and Twitter @MercerMettl.

Sliding CTA_Build an Impeccable Feedback System to Enhance Your Organization’s Growth and Success


Originally published December 6 2018, Updated June 16 2020

Megha Singh

Written by

A writer at heart, Megha has been in the content industry for 4 years. Starting her career from print, her journey spans across IT, legal and consulting industries. She has been associated with Mercer | Mettl as Assistant Manager, Content Marketing for 2 years.

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