360 Degree Feedback – 101


What is 360 degree feedback

360 degree feedback (also known as multi-rater feedback) is a process in which employees are reviewed by those around them at work (hence the 360 degrees) – their managers, peers and sometimes even customers or suppliers.

Typically, the process is used to help people with their development, to improve their work skills and behaviours. Some employers use the process to evaluate performance and make decisions about things such as pay increases – which can be controversial.

How does 360 degree feedback work?

There are a number of different tools available, many are completed online. Most involve a series of questions about the employee’s behaviours. The ‘raters’ or ‘reviewers’ are usually selected by the business and the employee together. It is important that they be people who interact with the employee on a regular basis. To be most effective the process should not be used on a stand alone basis but should form part of a larger performance management system. How the data will be reviewed and what it will be used for are important questions to be determined before starting.

What are the pros and cons of using 360 degree feedback?


  • It’s a great way to get employees used to receiving feedback from a variety of sources
  • Employees often feel it is a fairer process as it provides a broader reflection of their performance rather than relying on the opinion of one person
  • It can encourage better team communication and dynamics
  • The data can be used to identify training needs
  • It takes the pressure off managers


  • If raters are inexperienced or poorly briefed that can affect the quality of the data
  • As the process is usually anonymous there is no opportunity to further ‘interrogate’ the data
  • Employees may be reticent to be involved because they are concerned about confidentiality
  • Some people maintain that the feedback is often focused on weaknesses rather than strengths.
  • According to studies done, the success of the process is dependent on how long the rater has known the employee
  • The process isn’t suitable for all jobs or businesses

Have you considered using 360 degree feedback at your work?

HR Central can assist with developing a process and template. For further advice call 1300 717 221

Sarah Tidey

Sarah Tidey is a former lawyer who specialises in HR and workplace dispute resolution.

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