Frequently Asked Questions

Is 360-degree feedback ever inappropriate?

Yes, when:

  • The person receiving feedback is too new to the group or organisation
  • There are not enough respondents who truly understand the full scope of an individual’s responsibilities
  • During the time of a major change, such as just before or after a merger or acquisition
  • In an environment where there is a high degree of mistrust

How important are norms?

Each organisation, even those within the same industry have a very different culture and set of values. What is important in one organisation may be relatively unimportant in another.

Additionally, most participants agree that comments, not numeric ratings, give the most meaningful feedback. For these reasons, we have found that comparing individual results to national norms, while indeed interesting to consider, is not as relevant as comparing one’s scores to in-house norms which are unique to the organisation.

How can the validity and reliability of a 360 survey be verified?

Questions about validity are most important with instruments that are developed in the tradition of psychological tests with the purpose of measuring things that cannot be observed directly, such as values, attitudes, styles and traits. 360-degree survey items should always be based on concrete, observable behaviours.

To establish face validity, show the survey to a representative group of people who will be giving and receiving feedback and ask the following questions:

  • Are the questions clear or ambiguous?
  • Are the questions relevant to the subjects’ job?
  • Are the major items addressed?

Is 360 voluntary or mandatory?

The 360-degree process should always be voluntary, yet we can maximise the response rate by clearly communication the purpose and benefits of the 360 process to participants.

How often should 360 be rolled out?

It takes a minimum of 3 – 6 months for a new behaviour, practised regularly to become ingrained. With this in mind, we have found that a 12 month interval for surveying is most appropriate.

What type of information should be targeted?

  • Knowledge – familiarity with job, industry, company
  • Skills – task proficiency
  • Behaviours – patterns in relation to the environment (energy, optimism)
  • NOT personality traits or styles!

Who gets a copy of the report?

This needs to be agreed right up front, as part of the project scope. Ideally, the participant should be the first person to see their results, and then in consultation with their manager explore strengths, any personal blind spots, and areas for potential growth.