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Performance Management

Successful 360 Degree Feedback

What’s all the fuss about 360 Degree Feedback?

360-degree feedback is controversial, no doubt about it. Why? Because it’s often done improperly, or poorly; it’s all in the execution. In some cases, data is misused, participants are debriefed improperly, the wrong people are sampled, the instrument used is too long or confusing, confidentiality is breached, or development planning fails to result in lasting behavior change.

On the other hand, 360-degree feedback data is hard to beat if you want to get a manager’s attention to jumpstart needed behavior change. Hearing exactly what you need to change from the people closest to you is great data. In fact, if implemented properly, who wouldn’t want specific, candid and honest feedback to be able to leverage personal strengths and identify and prioritize development needs?

So, what is 360 Degree Feedback?

360 Degree feedback is performance-appraisal data collected from ‘all around’ an employee: his or her peers, subordinates, supervisors, and sometimes, from internal and external customers. Its main objective usually is to assess training and development needs and to provide competence-related information for succession planning, not promotion or pay increase.

How do I make sure we get the most out of 360 Degree Feedback?

  1. Select a survey or tool that fits your organization and the roles you plan to include. For example, we have a couple of flagship products, the Leadership Effectiveness Profile and the Management Effectiveness Profile, that many clients use to solicit 360 Degree Feedback. But we also have some assessment tools for specific competencies like our Communication Effectiveness Profile or Team Building Effectiveness Profile which might be a much better fit in certain situations. Be sure to ask vendors for a sample output report so you can see what dimensions are assessed and how.
  2. Be careful when allowing participants to select their own raters; make sure someone “in the know” reviews the rater list so that it includes key contacts – not just the participant’s “buddies” who will give him or her good ratings;
  3. Don’t under or over-sample; as a general rule-of-thumb, include between 6 – 10 raters to get the best data.

Learning More

If you want to learn more on this topic, we’ve got a few suggestions. We’ve just finished a new Guide to Effective 360 Degree Feedback that can be downloaded from our webstore for free. Click here to check it out.

You can also browse through our catalog of online assessments, many of which are available for administration as 360 Degree instruments. A sampling of our topics available as 360 Degree Assessments is listed below.

  • Change Management
  • Coaching Effectiveness
  • Communication Effectiveness
  • Creativity & Innovation
  • Ergonomics Focus
  • Ethical Behavior Profile
  • Financial Acumen
  • Generational Style Assessment
  • Goal / Objective Setting Interviewing style
  • Listening Effectiveness
  • Management Style
  • Meeting Effectiveness
  • Networking Effectiveness
  • People Development
  • Personal Effectiveness
  • Presentation style
  • Problem Solving and Decision-Making Effectiveness
  • Project Management
  • Quality Effectiveness
  • Sales Effectiveness
  • Service Effectiveness
  • Situational Communication
  • Situational Leadership
  • Situational Presentation
  • Situational Problem-Solving
  • Stress Management
  • Team-building Effectiveness
  • Time Management
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About Anne Valenzuela-Smith

Anne Valenzuela-Smith has spent over 25 years in public sector management. She has led successful project teams in large IT implementations, work process re-engineering, organizational design, human resources, financial management and change management. Anne is VP Operations at ReadyToManage, Inc. and can be contacted at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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