To help develop employees and ensure that processes are working, feedback is essential - and with the right type of feedback you can get a full picture of how well each employee is achieving their personal and professional goals, as well as how they are viewed by their peers, managers, direct reports, and even customers.
360 feedback can work alongside more traditional employment reviews, giving a full picture of each individual in the organisation.
For HR professionals, one of the most important things to consider is what type of questions you should be asking through the 360 process - and this article will go through all the things that you need to think about before implementing the process for your business.
What is 360 feedback?
360 feedback is an employee review method that allows each employee to receive anonymous feedback from more people.
More traditional reviews come from the opinion of a direct supervisor or line manager, with a focus on specific targets and Key Performance Indicators (KPI). The 360 feedback is more rounded, asking for the opinions of people in the business who work alongside the employee - so they can review important skills, competencies and abilities with a view for development.
360 feedback comes from multiple sources. This can include managers and line managers, the employees who report to the individual, peers at the same level, and other employees in the business. Some 360 feedback might even come from customers or clients.
Why is 360 feedback important?
If HR and management want to get a full picture of how effective an employee is, specifically around the skills and behaviors that are needed for success in the role (and in the future), then getting the viewpoint of others in the business who work alongside them in different ways gives much more granular detail.
The traits that are being discussed in 360 feedback are not only about effectiveness in the role, but also about working towards accomplishing the mission and goals of the organization, by following the values that the business requires.
360 feedback is about quality as well as quantity; more sources can provide detailed information, and it helps to develop more of a team mentality as employees will know that they are being evaluated by each other throughout.
When should you use 360 feedback?
The most effective way to use 360 feedback is usually in combination with other review methods.
The more traditional review methods - those usually used to evaluate employees for rewards like pay rises that are linked to performance - tend to focus on the completion of goals and the achievement of other performance indicators.
The 360 method is about continuous development, especially when it comes to leadership and evaluating training needs. The feedback that is invited by the peers of the individual is anonymous yet detailed, so people can be honest and really help promote development, learning, and the important things like celebrating those who are making a real difference to the workplace.
Close-ended vs open-ended 360 feedback questions
There are two distinct types of questions that can be asked in the 360 feedback process. Closed questions are those that have a limited number of answers; sometimes that might be yes or no, or in the case of 360 feedback, it might be a rating.
The benefit of using closed questions in 360 feedback in particular is that the specific answer range makes it easier to collect and analyze the results. The quantitative nature of the data collected is easier to use in a comparative way.
Open-ended questions are those that invite more detail - and while these are less easy to use as comparative data, they are essential to the 360 processes because they give reviewers the opportunity to give specific examples of skills and behaviors, or to explain their ratings. This extra detail can be especially important in both professional and personal development.
Sample 360 feedback questions
There are specific behaviors, traits, and skills that you will want to evaluate your employees for. These are usually soft skills, such as:
Below are some example questions you could ask in the 360 processes for these factors.
- Does this employee communicate well with others?
- Can this employee communicate effectively with managers?
- How would you rate the way this employee communicates with customers?
- Is this employee able to speak clearly and concisely?
- Does this employee ask for help when needed?
- Does this employee communicate well in written form?
- Does this employee listen to suggestions?
- Would you say that this employee creates opportunities for discussion?
- Does this employee actively look to understand the views and opinions of others?
- Can you give an example of a time when this employee demonstrated good communication skills?
- Is the employee effective at recognizing problems?
- Can the employee evaluate a problem well?
- Is the employee able to suggest solutions?
- Does the employee have different ideas to solve a problem?
- Can the employee talk about a problem with other people?
- Does the employee fully understand the impact of a problem?
- Will the employee take the initiative to solve a problem?
- Is the employee able to explore a problem without assistance?
- Is the employee able to work with others to solve a problem?
- Can the employee take responsibility for problems?
- Does the employee complete tasks effectively?
- Is the employee able to organize their workload?
- Can the employee delegate tasks when needed?
- Can the employee structure their workday efficiently?
- Does the employee multitask well?
- Does the employee complete their tasks to a high standard?
- Does the employee work to improve processes?
- Can the employee collaborate in order to complete work on time?
- Is the employee motivated by deadlines?
- Describe a time when the employee has had to balance conflicting requirements successfully.
- Does the employee work well with others?
- Does the employee treat everyone with respect?
- Can this employee collaborate effectively?
- Is this employee someone that others would turn to for advice?
- Can this employee build effective relationships?
- Does the employee motivate others?
- Can the employee take the lead when it is needed?
- Does the employee follow instructions fully?
- Does the employee have a good work ethic?
- Can you give an example of a time when the employee demonstrated excellent teamwork?
- Does the employee seem to enjoy their work?
- Is the employee able to motivate others?
- Have you noticed that the employee communicates their happiness in their role?
- Does the employee show that they are motivated?
- Does the employee share their work outside of the business in a positive way?
- Is the employee motivated to help and support others in their success?
- Does the employee go the extra mile for customers?
- Is this employee hard to motivate in their usual work?
- Does this employee take on extra work without being asked?
- Would you say that this employee is proud of their achievements?
- Does this employee inspire others?
- Can this employee deal with conflict effectively?
- Does this employee set a clear direction for others?
- Can this employee control their own emotions and behavior?
- Does this employee act professionally?
- Is this employee honest and trustworthy?
- Can this employee apply feedback to improve?
- Does this employee show initiative?
- Does this employee know and represent the values of the business?
- Is this employee motivational for others?
- Does this employee complete their tasks efficiently?
- Is the employee able to work collaboratively to complete tasks?
- Does the employee structure their daily tasks effectively?
- Are the tasks that the employee has to complete finished to the right level?
- Does the employee consistently meet high standards in their work?
- Would you say that the work the employee completes exceeds expectations?
- Does the employee strive to complete their tasks every day?
- Would you say that the employee takes the initiative?
- Does the employee work strategically to improve efficiency?
- Has the employee come up with any process improvements?
- Is the employee aware of the objectives of the company?
- Does the employee represent the company in the right way?
- Does the employee recommend the services of the business?
- Is the employee willing to give effective feedback?
- Does the employee view the customers as ultimately important?
- Does the employee discuss the company positively in meetings?
- Does the employee share ideas to help the business get better?
- Does the employee live the values of the company?
- Is the employee able to demonstrate their alignment?
- Would you say that the employee is aware of the strategic vision of their department?
How to write 360 feedback questions
The key to good questions in the 360 feedback process is that they must be both relevant to the position and the person being evaluated, but also ask the right people.
It is essential that the people being asked to review an employee have interacted with them in a business sense in some way, whether that is as their manager, as a direct report, or as a peer.
The other thing to consider is that the 360 feedback questions are about attributes. The anonymous nature of the questionnaire means that evaluation can be given without bias, making it a great way to really understand the way an employee is viewed by others - but the process has to be regulated.
In most cases, you can do this by using a simple questionnaire format. This ensures that the closed questions and the possible answers and ratings are all the same for each reviewer, making it easier to quantify the data at the end. Open-ended questions can be added at the end for more details.
An additional point to make is that an effective 360 process should ask the same questions of the employee being evaluated as well - so that their answers can be compared to the viewpoints of their peers for a more thorough discussion.
In most cases, the 360 feedback questionnaires are completed anonymously.
The 360 feedback process can improve the quality of evaluation for employees, especially when it comes to less tangible factors for development such as soft skills. Using multiple sources of data to help develop employees reduces the discrimination risk, and builds more of a sense of teamwork.
However, it is worth remembering that without a considered structure and background, the process can be hard work and implementation can take some time - especially when it comes to training employees to be effective at rating others.
The 360 feedback process is great for professional development, and it should be used in conjunction with other review methods to ensure that a well-rounded view of performance is achieved.