Best Practices to a Successful 360 (and 720) Degree Feedback

Posted 22 Sep 2014
by Gary Nelson


360-720 Degree FeedbackWhen assessing individuals and groups, such as in a 360 degree multi-rater feedback survey, you’ll want to follow the best practices in the industry. Why? Because you want results that validate progress and give you a return on your investment.

The Education community says, the best practices for Learning are 3 stages driven:

Initial Stage
What are the goals, facts, concepts, competencies and themes? Identify all pre-assessment activities to get maximum support, participation and qualitative feedback.

Formative Stage
Analysis and validation leading to courses, coaching, mentoring, on-the-job training (OJT), projects etc. that are determined to develop the individual or groups’ productivity and performance.

Summative Stage
Determine success by activity feedback, interviews and focus groups, and conduct a same audience (re)assessment to measure results.

Here’s how we incorporate these best practices into our 360 feedback process. There are 5 steps in this process across the three stages of Learning. We’ve outlined the key questions you should ask in each step to help you define your requirements for a maximum impact 360 feedback project. Use this as a guide when planning for your next 360 project!

The Initial Stage

1. Assessment: Appreciating your goals

  • What are your goals and objectives for implementing a 360 feedback initiative?
  • What are the key competencies to be measured that fits in with your goals and objectives of this initiative?
  • For whom is this initiative designed for? Who will be the recipients of feedback?
  • Who should give feedback? What is the process and criteria for nominating respondents?
  • What type of rating scale should you use to ensure accurate and unbiased results? Research has shown that assessments using a dual rating scale is more reliable and less threatening to both the respondents and recipients of feedback. Find out more on the benefits of dual scale assessments and surveys.
  • How should you group the respondents to allow for different analysis of the results? E.g. Peers, subordinates, customers etc.

2. Pre-Survey Communication: Preparing all participants

  • What are the characteristics of this particular group of recipients and respondents?
  • What concerns or reactions would you anticipate from them?
  • Address these key matters in customized briefings for the recipients and respondents. A well-informed 360 initiative will be more readily accepted by both the recipients of feedback and the respondents:
    • Your organization’s objectives of the 360 initiative with respect to the overall organization development strategy
    • Clear process and timeline – How the survey works and when to expect what (E.g. For how long should the survey be open)
    • Confidentiality of individual survey responses
    • Sharing of results – who will see what reports
    • Tips and guidelines on giving constructive feedback

3. Survey Administration: Handling all the details

  • How do the participants access the survey?
  • Who is the go-to person for any questions related to the 360 initiative?
  • Who is the go-to person for technical support during the survey open period?
  • Who will notify and follow-up with the participants on survey open, during, and close? How – email, call etc.
  • Who monitors the survey completion progress, and how often do you monitor?
  • At what point do you close the survey, or extend? We recommend a min. 90% completion rate to obtain solid analysis. A high completion rate indicates a strong buy-in from all stakeholders in an organization. It helps to encourage a feedback culture, and motivates the recipients to act upon their feedback. On average, our clients achieve 94% completion rate in each 360 feedback survey!

The Formative Stage

4. Post-Survey Communication: Sharing the results

  • How do you help your recipients get the most out of their 360 reports? Put a process in place to teach them how to interpret the results and use it to identify areas of development needs. You can do this as a group in a workshop or on a 1-on-1 format depending on the size of your group.
  • What takeaway actions do you want to drive your recipients to do at the end of the day? For example, do you want them to create an individual development plan or have an individual discussion with their managers on their development needs?
  • What types of support can you offer to help your recipients drive those actions/changes? E.g. Individual coaching, group training programs, competency building guides etc. Make sure the group is well-informed on the kinds of support they can have access to from the management.

The Summative Stage

5. Follow-up: Evaluating the results

  • How do you and your management monitor progress and continue the support for the developmental initiatives of this group? E.g. If you offered 1-on-1 coaching, encourage a second or third session at the 3-month and 6-month period, so the coach can help sustain their change efforts and overcome any inevitable obstacles along the way.
  • How do you measure the ROI on your 360 feedback and follow-up development initiatives? The best way is to do another 360 feedback survey – we call this the 720 feedback – with the same group of participants so you can directly compare the results. We recommend your 720 feedback to take place approximately 12 to 18 months after your first 360.

To illustrate the power of 720 feedback along with recommended best practices, here are the results of a client organization who has shown great improvements in almost every competency measured:

360-720 results of an NBOGroup client, showing improvements in every competency measured

Image credit: jnaas | iStock (top)

Planning on a 360 feedback project for your organization soon? Follow the best practices in this post and download this additional resource to maximize your success:


Maximizing Your 360-720 Feedback ROI (Free Whitepaper)Free Whitepaper: Maximizing Your 360-720 Feedback ROI

Learn the secret to unlocking the potential of your leaders and organization through a well-managed 360-720 degree feedback.

  • What is a 720 degree feedback?
  • What defines a well-managed 360-720 feedback – factors of success?
  • How these factors of success maximize your developmental ROI?

Download whitepaper »


Topics: 360 Degree Feedback , Growth & Productivity , Human Resource , Leadership Development , Learning & Development

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