In many cases, traditional feedback is shared top-down, from managers to direct reports. A 360-degree review is a feedback structure that encourages employee feedback to come from all directions: Top-down, upwards, peer-to-peer, etc.

Benefits of 360 reviews

With traditional feedback, from manager to employee, the individual receiving feedback isn’t getting the full picture. While employees work closely with their managers, they also work closely with their teammates and those in other departments as well.

360-degree reviews offer a lot of benefits to both the organization and the individuals receiving them, including:

  • More holistic feedback from different perspectives on what the individual is great at and areas for improvement
  • Emphasizes the value of everyone’s opinion
  • Helps foster a culture of accountability and teamwork

Downsides of 360 reviews

Although 360 reviews sound like a great opportunity, when not done right, they can pose serious challenges, including:

  • Overwhelming the team with feedback requests (I.e. asking a product manager to share feedback for 25 engineers)
  • Putting a heavy focus on employee weaknesses instead of strengths
  • Requiring a lot of time to collect, process, and share feedback with each individual
  • Asking for feedback from individuals who aren’t experienced at giving it

Who to include in a 360-degree review?

These are some people you should consider asking to share feedback:

  • The direct manager [Top-down]
  • Direct team members [Peer-to-peer]
  • Direct reports [Upwards]
  • Members of other teams that work with this person a lot [Peer-to-peer]
  • Other managers who would work with this individual [Upwards]

360 review sample questions

When creating your questions, avoid number scales. This method isn’t great for receiving qualitative feedback that is actually valuable for the receiver. Number scales are also perceived differently by every person. To some, a 3/5 is great and 5/5 is perfection (which is never achievable), while to others a 3/5 is average and 5/5 means that the person is doing a great job.

Although it’s more time consuming for the individual, qualitative feedback will provide more clarity on what that person is great at and where they can improve.

Sample questions

1. Pick the sentence that best describes [person]’s ability to deliver. [Name]:

  • Delivers on time, every time
  • Usually delivers on time
  • Usually delivers late
  • Never delivers on time

2. What should this individual start, stop, and continue to do?

Keep this open-ended. You can be specific if you’d like but allow for some room for the reviewer.

3. Of our company values, which does [name] practice the most and why?

  • Company value 1 (I.e. Be a good human)
  • Company value 2 (I.e. Build trust)
  • Company value 3 (I.e. Win-win don’t lose)
  • Company value 4 (I.e. Let the best idea win)

Additional resources

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