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It is now common to hear organizations talking in terms of a 360-degree feedback. Is this just another fashionable term to hit the market? Or does it have something to offer that is different from earlier yardsticks? What is a 360-degree feedback? How is it different from other assessments, and what difference does it actually do to an organization?

The term is rather self-explanatory. A 360-degree feedback is an all-round performance measurement index. What is the “all-round” aspect here? It simply means that in a 360-degree feedback, assessments are not done unilaterally and at one source. This leads us to what it actually is: It is a multi-layered assessment technique.

Why a 360-degree feedback?

The aim of a 360-degree feedback is to ensure that no prejudices creep in at the time of an assessment. In this sense, this certainly is a proper tool, because in the event of one single manager or supervisor making an assessment, there is every chance that it could be shaded, for good or for bad. What if the employee being assessed is really good, but is not on good terms with the reporting manager? Should she suffer a negative feedback because of this reason? Conversely, what if a really bad employee gets a good feedback because of the opposite reason –that of being in the good books of the reporting manager?

It is to avoid all these that a 360-degree feedback does not stop with one assessment. It goes up to higher levels, ranging from four to even sometimes, eight supervisors, if the hierarchy permits that. The idea of a 360-degree feedback at its core is to ensure that transparent and accountable steps are taken.


Despite all its good intentions, it should be admitted that a 360-degree feedback is far from perfect. Why? One, it could lead to bad blood between the reporting manager and his higher ups whenever there is a serious difference of opinion regarding a candidate’s assessment. It is natural for the immediate, reporting manager to feel slighted when his assessments are shot down by people to whom the candidate rarely reports directly.

Secondly, the selection of the persons doing the assessment could play a major role in the accuracy of the assessment. In this sense, it is akin to a trial by jury, where neutral and disinterested persons are selected to aid in decision making. When employees whose objectivity is doubtful are selected to carry out the assessment; it leads to faultiness, defeating the purpose of having an all-round assessment.

Once an organization takes steps to correct these factors, a 360-degree assessment could be a great tool for the organization.

From India, Bangalore

360 feedback is a calibrated survey utilized for performance evaluation only when an employee works for more than one manager. In such a case, 360 has to be built into the appraisal process in such a manner that the direct reporting manager of the employee can gather inputs from other line/ functional managers, especially on competencies & skills. Such a feed back helps immensely in creating a development plan for the employee. However, without HR technology such an approach becomes difficult to manage.

Also the 360 feed back process is effectively utilized by some CEOs to find out the perceptions of people about those whom the CEOs want to elevate to senior leadership positions, so that their acceptability in the environment could be studied. This tool also helps, in that manner, to evolve development plans for senior people in the organization.

Well, intelligent design & effective use of 360 degree feed back process has helped in the growth of many organizations. To that extent, the fears expressed, while initiating this discussion, may be unfounded.

From India, Delhi
korgaonkar k a

Just to add, 360 evaluation is a process by which a person is evaluated from all angles, from all corners. He is evaluated not only by his boss and superiors but also by peers, nears, dears and sub-ordinates. In this process, one is evaluated by team members of other department also. Even I have seen evaluation by out siders. It is 360 degree evaluation. It is also known as multi-rater or multi source evaluation. It includes self evaluation too.
In organisation, each person is a customer to other. he is called an internal customer. It is a process of internal customer survey when it is restricted within the organisation.
This process get different outcomes. Therefore should be used exclusively for development purposes. It should be used in evaluating overall performance.

From India, Mumbai
Dr. Param D. Singh

Dear Members,

The authors of the above two posts in this thread must be very senior, at least very mature, HR practitioners to write what they have written! My sincere compliments, Sirs!!

360 degrees. Suppose I were to take a camera and take a picture of a person from the front, the left, the back and the right sides, technically the four views add up to 360 degrees - that's how a square can be made to fit into a circle! However, an octagonal-profile would any day be better than a 4-sided profile, and by extension, a full circle (with its theoretically unlimited number of viewpoints) profile be the most ideal! So, take the least number? or take the most number of profiles? Depends on need, practicability and resources. We could easily grossly under-do or over-do a 360.

Most mature organizations that assess anything, assess it well in order to remove bias, and to use the end results for a purpose. Technology has assisted development of serious 360 degree capture of profiles using input from a variety of devices (eg., automatic capture of in and out times from the punching machine, or data from feedback forms!! from customers both external and internal), and it is the "engine" behind the system that correctly gives out usable reports.

Now, not wishing to be sounding commercial, I wish to inform Members that this is in successful use by many industries and I represent one of these in India (my principals are a UK based human capital, knowledge management and systems thinking group). [We have not yet launched the products in India; we will be needing to engage champions and practitioners for these products for which those involved in serious consultancy services will be welcome as associates. If any one is keen on exploring coming aboard, please do get in touch with me!]. The systems exist - I have one: they work!!

The most important aspects required in a 360 are the purpose for which the results are intended to be used. Well captured organizational processes (mapping); identification of those factors that will decide efficiency or deficiency; ability to capture data for the critical inputs that make the difference; the engine that can put together the diverse 360 capture into a comprehensible picture: the report that can be relied upon and used to take action! Now, use this for reducing errors and achieving six sigma, or for human resource appraisals or disaster prevention - it works!!

[For those keen on knowing what we're up to, may I request a visit to my post on citeHR, " <link no longer exists - removed> "].

With best regards,


From India, Mumbai

Dear Trainhr1,
what i could understant your perception of 360 degree feedback is a multilayered feedback system!. ot's not so, 360 means, it is taken from your subordinates, your superiors, your peers and yourself (it may change to Customer, supplier, subordinate and superior depending on type of dealing).

From India, Delhi

Dear B K Bhatia, Korgaonkar K A, and Dr. Param D. Singh,
Thanks for your comments and suggestions appreciating our write up on 360-degree feedback. We enjoyed reading your responses. Indeed, as you suggest, if done in the right earnest and with objectivity, this can be a neat tool for candidate evaluation. This system can help tremendously in removing individual managers’ biases, which is essentially what it is designed for.
Dear Mkpandey18,
Yes, the fact of assessment made after feedback from different layers (levels) is what makes it multi-layered! That completes the loop, which is what gives it its name. Thanks for your response!

From India, Bangalore
korgaonkar k a

Dear All,
I came across a nice posting on the current topic by Shri. Anil Arora ji, our Board Moderator. The link of the said posting is as under:
Hope you will enjoy reading it.

From India, Mumbai

Thank you all for your interest.Based upon your responses we are organizing webinar related to The Fallacies Of Performance Appraisals And How To Overcome Them.
This Webinar will cover
Why employees hate performance appraisal
• Why Supervisors are afraid of giving difficult feedback
• Typical problem with instrument design
• How to remove bias from the appraisal process
• Ten solutions for improving the performance appraisal process
• Tips for giving better feedback
• How to get employees involved in performance improvement
you can register the above Webinar by clicking on the below link
Registration Link:The Fallacies Of Performance Appraisals And How To Overcome Them: TrainHR

From India, Bangalore
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