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A Holistic Approach to Multi-Rater Assessments: A Detailed Guide

Learning and Development | 10 Min Read

A Holistic Approach to Multi-Rater Assessments: A Detailed Guide


A multi-rater assessment is an evaluation process based on the ratings from multiple sources. Also known as multi-rater feedback or multi-rater survey, the process helps identify strengths and improvement areas in a professional setting. Multi-rater assessment allows unbiased evaluation of the individual in consideration from diverse perspectives.

This research explores the fundamentals of multi-rater feedback, with a major focus on 360 multi-rater assessment tools. You will learn how these tools help promote self-awareness in a professional landscape and encourage developmental growth. The write-up highlights the popular types of multi-rater assessments and familiarizes you with their role in reinforcing organizational values. It will further help you examine the potential of these assessments in areas relevant to leadership and feedback.


Chapter 1: What Is Multi-Rater Feedback?

A multi-rater assessment, also known as a multi-rater feedback process, is a powerful instrument to analyze performance, behavior, potential and competencies. It incorporates multiple perspectives by using feedback from several sources, such as peers, subordinates, clients, self and supervisors.

Unlike conventional supervisor reviews or subordinate feedback, the multi-rater approach is more holistic. The multi-rater method of collecting feedback has several applications and formats. This chapter will offer detailed clarity across those parameters by delving deeper into the types of multi-rater surveys and their applications, benefits, etc.


Why do we need multi-rater feedback?


When used to map differences and similarities in perceptions about common reference points, multiple ratings can be powerful tools for individual or organizational development applications. Multi-rater assessments, such as 360-degree surveys and 360 performance appraisals, offer collective insights, leading to more accurate feedback for the recipient. It is also essential to adopt a multi-rater approach to:


It is also essential to adopt a multi-rater approach to


Furthermore, regular multi-rater surveys generate an awareness that success is not just about pleasing one person. Instead, it is all about teamwork, appreciation, keeping your co-workers happy and building the right rapport with your clients/customers.

The use of multirater feedback for development or administrative decision making has become commonplace in many large organizations (Church, 2000). Multirater feedback is a method where information, usually in the form of ratings, is systematically collected on an individual’s performance from the entire circle of relevant viewpoints (e.g., peers, direct reports, manager). London and Smither (1995) noted that nearly all of the Fortune 500 companies used or intended to use multirater feedback in some form.

Fabio Sala and Stephen Dwight
Predicting Executive Performance with Multirater Surveys


Types of multi-rater surveys


Multi-rater surveys are among the most functional people analytics platforms. They are an essential upgrade to the conventional 90-degree appraisals and 180 surveys, which often limit the scope of evaluation and fair judgment. The 90-degree and 180-degree survey types include just the opinion of one superior and superior and self, respectively. The multi-rater element, on the other hand, brings in multiple perspectives and possibilities.

These surveys are customizable and versatile and are usually available in the following formats.

270-degree evaluation

A 270-degree appraisal includes three stakeholders – manager, self and peer. This kind of multi-rater survey offers a holistic view, offering transformative insights, learning, introspection and growth.

360-degree feedback

Also known as the absolute multi-rater assessment, 360-degree feedback includes ratings from managers, leaders, self, peers, subordinates and any other relevant sources who can ensure an all-round review of the professional.

720-degree feedback

Simply put, 720-degree feedback is a 360-degree appraisal conducted twice. It’s a pre-and post-intervention exercise conducted for comparative analysis and evaluation of employee performance to bring about further improvement. The second round is usually conducted after a pre-decided time interval. The results of both rounds are compared to analyze the improvement.

Customer pulse surveys

Customer pulse surveys are smaller versions of long-form customer surveys. They include a very low number of survey questions/statements and are sent out more frequently. The multiple ratings and responses help understand the immediate needs and satisfaction levels of the customers.

Franchise feedback

More like a review of the franchisees to prevent damage to the brand name, multi-rater franchise feedback offers insights into franchisee satisfaction. Besides, the process highlights strengths and weaknesses in areas such as franchisee selection, training, franchise marketing, profitability, etc.

Company board evaluation

The perception of an organization or the board members’ performance can vary. Hence, one can employ a multi-rater survey that offers insights into various behavioral and professional competence of the board members, chairperson, committee members, etc.

Employee engagement survey

An employee engagement survey is a significant organizational process, which provides detailed insights into employees’ perceptions on a range of critical areas. This kind of survey can be carried out frequently to measure trends and track improvements in employee engagement and productivity levels.


Uses of multi-rater assessment


The purpose of multi-rater feedback is to bring together varying perceptions from multiple sources within a work environment. Hence, the type of multi-rater assessment you choose usually determines its use cases.

Essentially, the process serves as a motivator of performance as well as a way to show employees that their opinions and views are important. But the applications of a multi-rater feedback system are manifold.

A multi-rater feedback process can be instrumental in:

  • Identifying the competencies in which an organization is excelling and the ones that are causing inefficiencies.
  • Identifying the most efficient leaders and employees as well as those in need of assistance and support.
  • Formulating data-backed plans for training needs analysis, employee growth, development, and evaluation of teams.
  • Measuring and embracing people analytics and using them to develop effective business strategies to deliver organizational improvement.
  • Upgrading performance appraisal and performance management systems.
  • Encouraging a culture of regular feedback at the workplace.


Chapter 2: Advantages and Disadvantages of Multi-Rater Feedback

What are the advantages of multi-rater feedback over other sources of rating?


Multi-rater feedback paints the complete picture of the subject’s performance, strengths, weaknesses, potential, and more. It encourages professional development for the feedback recipient and the raters. Moreover, it offers the opportunity to use feedback at every level of an organization to help develop talents, strategies and competencies.

Multi-rater assessment, like 360-degree feedback, can also drive an organization’s employee development process. As individuals receive holistic feedback, it helps them grow, identify improvement areas and work on them. Eventually, it leads to a culture of ongoing learning and collective growth.

Multi-rater feedback


1. It enables measuring non-quantifiable factors

A multi-rater appraisal is an excellent method to address a variety of competencies through an analytical lens, including measuring factors that are otherwise difficult to quantify, such as teamwork, leadership abilities and communication skills.


2. A multi-rater feedback form helps create highly focused growth plans

Not only does a multiple rating system help create more streamlined development plans, but it also ensures that those plans are aligned with the company’s and collaborators’ expectations. Simple multi-rater assessment examples clarify how they consider all essential attributes, such as an organization’s ability to ensure employee satisfaction or a leader’s ability to lead.


Not only is Multi Rater Feedback aligned with today’s business culture of work teams and less hierarchical organizations, it also involves the assumption, derived from measurement theory, that multiple raters yield more valuable information than any single individual.

Allan Church and David Bracken
Advancing the State of the Art of 360-Degree Feedback


3. When implemented confidentially, it encourages higher honesty among respondents

If you choose to implement an anonymous multi-rater assessment, it is possible to discover insights that are usually not talked about in a face-to-face setting. It is also possible that one comment from a single person would not receive the same consideration. In other words, a multi-rater feedback session may highlight something that is being noticed by several people. Hence, such an issue or achievement may get the required attention.


4. A 360 multi-rater assessment tool can help employees stay motivated

360-degree multi-rater assessments are instrumental in improving work relationships by boosting communication and motivation across teams. Since multi-rater feedback involves people from all over the organization in the evaluation process, colleagues can:

  • Explore new potential development areas to boost self-awareness.
  • Uncover blind spots in their behavior and focus on self-development in a way that helps improve those overlooked areas.
  • Get a balanced view of their skills and behaviors.
  • Identify their strengths.


5. Multi-rater surveys are essential for employers to address and resolve problems in an open, supportive environment

Multi-rater appraisals and surveys are an excellent mechanism to detect and eliminate biases and make futuristic people strategies.

Adopting the multi-rater feedback practice allows employers to:

  • Initiate team development programs to encourage accountability and boost employee morale.
  • Engage their workforce and create diverse opportunities for collective growth.
  • Retain and develop talent and motivate performance.
  • Broaden workforce perspectives on employee performance and wellbeing.


What are the disadvantages of multi-rater feedback?


Just like all kinds of performance management and development mechanisms, multi-rater assessments too have certain limitations. When not implemented the right way, multi-rater feedback can:

  • Be too focused on the feedback seeker’s skill gaps.
  • Create false positives if raters are not honest.
  • Turn out to be unfair if competencies are not selected as per job roles and positions.
  • Lack the insights on how to build strengths.

The best way to overcome these limitations is by understanding the best practices and the right ways to implement a multi-rater feedback process. The next chapters discuss both these parameters in detail, including the dos and don’ts of multi-rater feedback.


Chapter 3: Implementing Multi-Rater Feedback in Your Organization

Multi-rater surveys offer individuals and organizations a unique opportunity for holistic, advanced feedback. To capitalize on the opportunity, the organization must clearly define the objectives, train the raters, and design a process that encourages open discussion. Therefore, one must check for feedback readiness, be clear about the objectives, and systematically initiate the process.


When to implement multi-rater feedback?


If you’re conducting your 360-degree multi-rater assessments to evaluate the training and development needs of leaders and other employees, you can conduct the evaluations at any time. However, we recommend that you gather the feedback shortly before or immediately after your performance appraisal process, which would allow you to couple the associated development planning with the performance appraisal results.

You also need to consider how often to reassess staff with development-focused multi-rater surveys. You’ll only reap the benefits of the evaluations if you include follow-up development planning and regular reevaluations. This mechanism also helps ensure that skill gaps are being addressed and development is occurring.

Conversely, if you are gathering feedback to provide broader insights on performance appraisals, you simply need to allow enough time for participants to complete their evaluations timely, for managers to use them as part of their appraisal sessions.

Your organization is ready for a multi-rater assessment if:

  • The general employee morale is high enough to support an honest feedback intervention.
  • Your organization is supportive of talent management and coaching.
  • There is a readiness to reward mentors for undertaking L&D initiatives.
  • Most employees feel comfortable in adapting multi-rater feedback.
  • Your organization motivates the feedback raters and recipients to use the results for their individual growth.
  • You have the necessary resources and support to help employees create and implement professional development plans based on the assessment reports.

How to implement multi-rater feedback? 


Despite technological leaps in data collection and reporting, introducing a new kind of feedback system can be labor-intensive for any organization. But if you have the basics right and choose the right feedback tool, the success rate of the new system tends to get higher. To make things simpler, we have laid out a step-by-step process of implementing multi-rater feedback in your organization.


step-by-step process of implementing multi-rater feedback


Step 1: Articulate your purpose and strategy

It is essential to have utmost clarity about the objectives of rolling out a multi-rater survey in your organization. You should have answers to questions like:

  • What type of multi-rater reviews do you need?
  • What type of multi-rater feedback questions should you ask?
  • Who do you want to assess and why?
  • What outcomes do you expect?
  • How will you deal with the results?

It is imperative to be aware of what you want to accomplish with multi-rater feedback. You should ensure that the objectives of the assessment are in tune with your talent management strategy.


Step 2: Get the support of the leadership

Not even the most holistic multi-rater initiatives can succeed without the involvement of key decision-makers in a company. And the senior management’s support is indispensable. It is an excellent idea to ask these key stakeholders to agree to join the pilot group. It is crucial to set the proper tone as they share their experiences and feedback with every stakeholder in the organization.


Step 3: Choose a multi-rater assessment tool

In addition to choosing a reputed assessment vendor, ensure whatever assessment is selected aligns with your organization’s competency model and business outcomes. For example, multi-rater feedback for a manager may not have the same set of questions as a multi-rater survey for entry-level candidates.

Before you finalize an assessment tool, you should look for features and support that would make the tool easy to use and implement.


Step 4: Communicate and build trust

If you seek authentic feedback, you must be transparent, respectful, and communicative when dealing with colleagues at all levels. As you plan to roll out your new feedback method, also have a strong communication plan in place. Administrative roles and processes should be made clear. And you should create a realistic timetable and communicate. Participants, managers, and other raters need to understand the purpose and exactly what they’re expected to do. Make sure individuals know how best to embrace the multi-rater approach.


Step 5: Administer the process

Once all the stakeholders are fully aware of how multi-rater assessments work, why you are introducing them, and what they can expect to gain, it is time to launch the survey. You will be able to maximize the potential ROI of the survey if you also have an efficient follow-up plan. A private one-on-one session between participants and a trained facilitator can enhance the impact of the feedback process.



Chapter 4: Multi-Rater Best Practices: The Do’s and Don'ts of Multi-Rater Feedback

There are several considerations that you should not overlook when implementing a multi-rater feedback survey in your organization. This chapter deep dives into the dos and don’ts that are vital to the success of any type of multi-rater assessment.


The dos: Things to remember when implementing a multi-rater assessment


For starters, it is essential to engage all relevant stakeholders when implementing a multi-rater assessment in your company. It ensures ongoing support and active participation throughout the process. Also, there are three important parameters to consider as part of your multi-rater best practices.

1. Relevant multi-rater feedback questionnaire

The questions included in the survey should be in line with the values and competencies that are unique to the organization. Otherwise, it tends to throw the whole process off track, causing too much unnecessary data.

2. Credible data

Data that you seek from a multi-rater process should have both real and perceived credibility, meaning it should be accurate and valid and seen as such.

Best practices are:

  • To have enough raters
  • To have raters who are familiar with the subject.
  • To include a professional instrument that measures behaviors.
  • To be wary of instruments that trick the rater through randomization or reversed wording.
  • To adhere to a standardized and clear rating scale.
  • To conduct a pre-survey rater training session.

3. Census participation

Everyone must participate for a multi-rater feedback process to work. Every employee requires feedback from multiple others, resulting in everyone in the company giving feedback to multiple people. For this reason, management must set clear expectations, be accountable for the successful completion of the feedback, and help to create a climate of consistency and fairness for all stakeholders.


The don’ts: mistakes to avoid for a successful multi-rater assessment


There are several mistakes that organizations make when rolling out a multi-rater survey. If not checked, these mistakes can lead to disastrous consequences, even failure of the feedback process.


Mistake 1: An overload of questions

It is a common mistake to roll out unnecessarily long surveys. Even though you may have the best automation technology to save the answers and allow raters to pick the questionnaire up later, too many questions can still be overwhelming.

Ideally, anyone asked to provide multi-rater feedback should be able to complete the request in about 15 minutes time. That ensures meaningful responses and honest opinions.


Mistake 2: Asking raters to respond to irrelevant questions

Parameters like personal goals, a fair salary hike, etc., should not be shared with everyone. Raters need not have an opinion in this regard and should not be asked to answer questions on these topics.

It is best to stick to elements like communication, teamwork, professional skills, problem-solving abilities, quality of life at an organization, etc.


Mistake 3: Lack of transparency with regards to confidentiality

In some organizations, everyone knows that the feedback provided will be shared. On the other hand, other companies collect it anonymously. Whatever your situation, ensure that your expectations have been communicated with both managers and employees. This gives multi-raters the opportunity to phrase their feedback in the best possible manner.


Mistake 4: Not establishing guidelines for selecting raters

It is key to get holistic but relevant perspectives when rolling out multi-rater feedback. Therefore, it always helps when you choose the raters based on a standard set of guidelines.


Mistake 5: Not choosing a user-friendly interface

It is critical to choose a multi-rater feedback tool that is easy to use and review. If raters struggle with too many controls and saving their answers, the completion rate of the survey is more susceptible to go down.


Chapter 5: How Mercer | Mettl Can Help

Mercer | Mettl strongly advocates the growth and implementation of insightful multi-rater assessment technologies. If you follow the best practices, there are several strategic ways to leverage the power of these assessments- outside of generic individual development. Right from executive coaching to improving team performance, an ideal multi-rater feedback process can be instrumental in driving change across various professional levels. And Mercer | Mettl’s customizable 360View is a powerful multi-rater feedback example.

  • It is the most employee-friendly, cloud-based 360 multi-rater assessment tool with intuitive features that ensures high completion rates.
  • The tool is designed to help organizations:
    • Implement a multi-rater appraisal system seamlessly.
    • Address all multi-rater feedback requirements.
    • Enjoy customizations for question banks and competency models.
    • Assess rich insights through elaborate reports.
  • It is designed for the convenience of all stakeholders. Employers, administrators and HR professionals benefit from its easy setup and analytical features. And the mobile technology and autosave functions enable employees, i.e., the survey respondents, to engage with the process and complete the feedback whenever or wherever it suits them. The platform thrives on its objective to make feedback processes seamless and insightful.



Applications of 360View


As a holistic multi-rater tool, 360View is ideal for several organizational initiatives. Three of them have been elaborated below. For additional information, you can:

Explore Mercer | Mettl’s 360 View: Highlights, insights, and client stories.

View a sample report: Competency summaries, development plans, and more.

Discover the process: How does 360View work?

Reskilling & development

360View serves as a platform to highlight individual strengths and weaknesses within a workforce. Hence, it lays a strong foundation for professional growth with the help of extensive reports and personalized development plans. The comprehensive competency-based questionnaires supported by 360View can be used as realistic and holistic reflections of every employee. These reflections are powerful building blocks of a robust reskilling and development plan.

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

The integrated approach of 360 View allows the raters to evaluate their colleagues beyond their performance levels. Essential qualities like adaptability, learning agility, decision-making skills, strategic problem-solving attributes, and the appetite for challenges can all be measured using 360View. Companies can create custom competency frameworks or use the pre-built ones to identify high potential employees. The tool’s focused, individualized reports further make it easier for the decision-makers to identify their future leaders. Such an exercise ensures future-readiness and enables employers to set their successors on the right course through appropriate training, knowledge sharing, and gradual handing over of new responsibilities.

Performance appraisal

With its holistic perspective on employees undertaking appraisal exercises, Mercer | Mettl’s 360 View lends enhanced objectivity to the performance review process. Unlike conventional systems of annual feedback, the all-around approach facilitated by 360 View ensures an unbiased, growth-driven process that is fair and equitable.

Learn more: 360 evaluation templates and competencies.

Further reading: What is 360-Degree Feedback- Process, Applications, and More



By integrating multi-rater assessments like 360-degree feedback into their talent management plan, organizations can identify what’s most important for their strategic goals. The correct implementation of multi-rater assessments helps improve an organization’s financial performance, strengthen its existing talent, and enhance its leadership pipeline for the future. Moreover, the results of the assessment can be the catalyst for aligning leaders, creating a sense of urgency for new business strategy, and ensuring quick execution. Organizational multi-rater feedback could also serve as the starting point for a successful L&D program focused on change.




What is multi-rater feedback?

What does multi-rater mean?

What is a multi-rater survey?

Why is it important and essential to have a multi-rater feedback system in performance management?

What is the difference between 360-degree feedback and multi-rater assessment?

Originally published June 25 2021, Updated December 3 2021

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About This Topic

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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