What are the pros and cons of 360 degree feedback

Jeffrey Fermin
July 15, 2022

Organizations use 360-degree feedback as a way to gain insight into an employee's performance from a variety of perspectives. This type of feedback can be very beneficial, but it also has its drawbacks. In this article, we will take a look at the pros and cons of 360-degree feedback so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it is right for your organization.

Quick definition: What is 360-degree feedback?

360-degree feedback is a process where you gather feedback from your employees, peers, and supervisors. It's a way to get a more complete picture of how you are perceived by others.

When a manager gives 360-degree feedback to an employee, they typically solicit comments from two or three people who know the employee well at work (supervisor/s). The supervisor may also ask for input from the employee's team members or even clients. Ideally, one person will be asked about their work behavior, another about their leadership abilities, and another about their technical skills.

When done correctly, 360-degree feedback can be a valuable tool for organizations. When deciding if 360-degree feedback is right for your organization, consider the pros and cons listed below.

Difference between 360 reviews and performance reviews

Remember, a 360 review is about measuring a person's strengths and weaknesses, whereas a performance review assesses whether an employee is meeting their job expectations.  

You should consider doing performance reviews quarterly and 360 reviews annually.

The goal of a 360 review is to help anyone in the organization (senior leaders and employees) improve their personal skills and behaviors at work. By combining multiple sources, you'll get a complete picture of who they are as individuals, hopefully leading them down a successful career path.

Whereas the goal of a performance review is to help an organization better understand how an employee is currently meeting their job duties and responsibilities.

What are some of the advantages of 360-degree feedback?

The many benefits associated with 360-degree reviews aren't limited when done correctly they're also great opportunities to create better relationships within teams by getting everyone involved. Here are some of the pros of 360 reviews:

Creates a culture of candor

360-degree feedback provides employees with an opportunity to receive feedback from a variety of sources. This can be very beneficial, as it gives employees a well-rounded view of how they are perceived by others.

Identify areas of improvement

360-degree feedback can help identify areas where employees need improvement. By soliciting feedback from multiple sources, you can get a more accurate picture of an employee's strengths and weaknesses. This can be helpful in terms of identifying development needs.

Develops trust

360-degree feedback can help build trust between employees and managers. When done correctly, 360-degree feedback can foster open communication and mutual respect between employees and managers.

Helps with employee engagement

360-degree feedback can help improve employee engagement. Employees who feel that their opinions and feedback are valued are more likely to be engaged in their work.

Fosters a culture of continuous learning

360-degree feedback can help promote a culture of continuous learning. When employees are given the opportunity to receive feedback and identify areas for improvement, they are more likely to be motivated to learn and develop continuously.

Can be done anonymously

Anonymity is one of the key features of 360-degree feedback that can help create a psychologically safe environment. When employees feel safe giving and receiving feedback, they are more likely to be open and honest. This can lead to more accurate feedback and better results.

Provide a view on how others see employees

360-degree feedback can provide employees with insight into how others see them. This can be very beneficial, as it gives employees a chance to reflect on their own behavior and make changes accordingly.

Remember, when you give your employees 360 reviews, it's important not just to record their thoughts on paper or digital tools. Be sure to use an employee feedback management platform to collect data about teams and company performance before focusing on individuals.

What are some of the disadvantages of 360-degree feedback?

For the individuals or teams that are being reviewed, 360-degree feedback can be a difficult process if they've never done it before. Team members may feel uncomfortable with the idea of someone giving negative feedback to their manager and colleagues. They may also be hesitant to share their own impressions of others on the team in case those impressions are not positive or constructive.

The feedback loops might take some time

360-degree feedback can be time-consuming and expensive to implement. In order to get accurate feedback, you need to solicit input from multiple sources. This can take up a lot of time and resources.

It can be difficult to adopt

360-degree feedback can also be difficult to adopt, as it requires a change in the way employees and managers interact with each other. In order to make 360-degree feedback work, everyone needs to be on board and committed to making it work.

It can create conflict, thus impacting culture

If not done correctly, 360-degree feedback can create conflict. When employees feel like they are being evaluated by their peers, it can lead to tension and resentment. If managers are not careful about how they handle 360-degree feedback, it can also lead to conflict between employees and managers.

Feedback could be biased

360-degree feedback is only as accurate as the people who are giving the feedback. If the people giving the feedback are not honest or have ulterior motives, the feedback will be biased.

360-degree feedback is not always accurate

Even when everyone involved is honest and has good intentions, know that it is not always accurate. This is because people often have different perspectives on the same situation. As a result, it can be difficult to get an accurate picture of an employee's strengths and weaknesses.

When done correctly, 360-degree feedback can be a powerful tool for improving communication, building trust, and fostering a culture of continuous learning. However, it's important to remember that 360-degree feedback is not without challenges. Before implementing 360-degree feedback in your organization, make sure you are aware of the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Should you implement 360 feedback on your team?

360 feedback is a great way to get a sense of how your team is doing and what they think of their work environment. It's also a good way to get feedback from people you don't normally talk to, so it's worth considering if you want to hear more voices in the room.

However, it may not be the right choice for every organization.

If you have a small group where most people already know each other well and have established open lines of communication, then 360 might not add much value beyond what already exists. In some cases, it can actually cause conflict by bringing up sensitive topics that would've been better left alone—especially if someone has had bad experiences in previous jobs or relationships.

It's also important to consider the power dynamics in your organization. If there are already hierarchies and power imbalances, then 360 feedback could amplify those problems. It's possible that people with more power will be more likely to get positive feedback, while those without as much power may feel like they can't speak up honestly for fear of retribution.

Finally, you should also think about your team's culture and whether it's conducive to honest feedback. If people are used to avoiding conflict or putting on a "happy face" for the boss, then they may not give honest feedback in a 360 setting.

Tips to get started with 360 feedback  

If you've decided that 360 feedback is right for your team, here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Define the purpose and goals of the feedback process. What do you hope to achieve?
  2. Choose the right people to participate. Make sure they are open-minded and willing to give honest feedback.
  3. Create a safe and supportive environment. let people know that it's okay to be honest and that there will be no repercussions for speaking up.
  4. Be clear about what type of feedback you're looking for. Do you want feedback on specific areas such as Communication or Leadership? Or are you open to hearing about anything?
  5. Train employees on how to give feedback. Help them understand what type of feedback is helpful and how to give it constructively.
  6. Follow up after the feedback is given. Use the feedback to improve your team's communication, trust, and culture of learning.

Examples of different questions to ask in 360 reviews

Not sure of what questions you should be asking in a 360 review? Here are some examples for different use-cases. And if you're not sure, please feel free to contact us directly for more examples.

Sample questions managers can ask their team:

  • What do I need to improve?
  • How well do I communicate my goals and objectives with my team?
  • When was the last time we had a team meeting where everyone contributed ideas?
  • Do I understand how well each member of my group is performing their job duties?
  • Is there anything else we can do better as a team?
  • Are there any changes that could be made within our department that would make things easier for everyone involved with operations (i.e., streamlining workflows or improving communication)?
  • What are my employees' strengths?
  • How can I help my employees develop their strengths?
  • What are my employees' development areas?
  • How can I help my employees improve in their development areas?
  • What can I do to improve communication with my employees?
  • What can I do to build trust with my employees?
  • What can I do to foster a culture of continuous learning on my team?

Sample questions to ask employees

  • Does this person have good listening skills?
  • Is he/she able to handle criticism without getting defensive or taking it personally when constructive advice?
  • Can he/she take direction from others without having an adverse reaction toward them?  Is this person able to work independently when necessary, or does he/she need constant supervision?
  • Does this person generally maintain a positive attitude, or is he/she more likely to be negative and pessimistic?
  • Is this person a self-starter who is always looking for new projects to take on, or does he/she generally wait to be assigned tasks?
  • Does this person prefer working on a team or working independently?
  • If this person could improve in any area, what would it be?  
  • What do you think are this person's strongest skills or strengths?
  • What do you think are this person's development areas?
  • If this person were your manager, what three things would you want him/her to know about you?
  • Is there anything else you'd like to share about this person that you feel would be helpful for me to know?

Sample questions for direct reports

  • What can I do to help you be more successful in your job?
  • Do you feel like you have the resources you need to do your job well?
  • Do you understand my expectations for your role on the team?
  • Do you feel like you have enough opportunity to provide input and feedback on projects?
  • Do you feel like your skills are being utilized effectively in your current role?
  • What type of feedback would be most helpful for you in terms of your development?
  • Is there anything else you'd like me to know about how I can support you in your role?

Don't forget to set goals to your process!

Now that you understand the basics of 360-degree feedback, it's important to set some goals for your process. Without goals, it's difficult to gauge the success of your 360-degree feedback process.

Some goals you may want to set for your 360-degree feedback process include:

  • Increasing communication among employees
  • Improving employee engagement
  • Identifying training and development needs
  • Increasing trust among employees
  • Creating a culture of continuous learning within your organization

If you're not sure where to start, try setting one or two goals to begin with. And remember, it's always okay to adjust your goals as you go! Always make sure that you're constantly striving to improve your team.

Will you start using 360 feedback in the future?

Now that you know what 360-degree feedback is and how it can benefit your team, will you start using it in the future? If not, why not? And if you're looking for more ways to create lines of communication between managers and employees, use AllVoices as an employee feedback management platform.

Don’t get caught off guard by employee feedback. AllVoices can help.
Request A Demo
We care about protecting your data. Here’s our Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.