360-Degree Feedback Survey to Boost Your Team’s Performance
Most companies face the need to assess their personnel. This assessment later serves as the basis for the incentive system, individual career paths, and promotion decisions. This task can be partially accomplished through a KPI system. But, unfortunately, it is impossible to find adequate metrics for every position, that will provide a complete picture of the employee’s performance. This is where the 360-degree feedback survey comes to rescue.
What is a 360-degree feedback survey
The 360-degree feedback method helps to assess an employee’s fitness for their position through a survey of their subordinates, colleagues and managers. To get a bigger picture, clients and contractors can also be asked to participate in the survey.
The main objective of this method is to give the employee feedback, highlight the way others perceive them, and address existing issues.
Objectives of the 360-degree feedback survey:
- Create a development plan for the employee assessed
- Determine the level of investment in the employee development
- Create an action plan to form a talent pool
- Identify the conditions that contribute to the employee’s high performance
- Improve communication between the employee and the manager through the feedback system.
The 360-degree feedback survey allows to:
- Increase employee loyalty
- Retain a valuable talent
- Help boost the employee career
- Eliminate the cause of conflicts in the team
- Increase team productivity through more effective communications
When to use the 360-degree feedback survey
When you need to understand who is ready for promotion. It would be especially useful in large companies with an extensive branch network, where the HR Department cannot monitor progress of each employee.
When you need to plan training. When you understand that employees lack knowledge, but it is unclear who exactly lacks it and what information or skills.
When you need to assess the management capacity. You can learn how employees assess their line managers, provided that you guarantee anonymity.
When you need to prepare feedback for an employee. With the survey, the manager would be able to supplement their personal opinion with colleagues’ impersonal assessment, making it more objective.
If you need to evaluate soft skills, i.e. qualities that make it possible for a person to interact with others, such as communication skills, active listening skill, proactivity, etc.
Why is the 360-degree feedback survey so popular?
Most employers assess the employees’ competences through testing or at assessment centers, where business cases and games are also used apart from tests.
This method has a number of disadvantages from the point of view of the employee’s subsequent development:
The employee may not agree with the assessment results. In this case, they will not have motivation to develop the relevant competences.
Employees may behave differently from how they would normally act, when they know that they are being assessed. Therefore, the assessment may not reveal difficulties arising in real-life communication.
Advantages of the 360-degree feedback survey compared to other assessment methods:
The 360-degree feedback survey creates a bigger picture: the employee receives feedback from everyone they interact with at the workplace, including people in different positions (subordinates, colleagues, and managers). This assessment is taken more seriously.
The 360-degree feedback survey is more realistic. Colleagues see each other at work every day and assess each other based on their experience of interaction in real-life workplace situations.
Features of the 360-degree feedback survey:
It allows you to assess each employee’s fitness for the position and performance.
It identifies growth areas of individual employees and the team as a whole.
It does not require involving an external expert team and may be conducted by the own HR Department.
An online survey can reach a large number of employees.
It allows you to assess skills that are difficult to measure in numbers, such as soft skills.
Limitations of the 360-degree feedback survey:
The assessment results are subjective and cannot be used for managing financial incentives.
It is not suitable for assessing deliverables or potential for further development.
If anonymity is compromised, the survey may complicate relationships in the team and provoke conflicts.
Expertise is needed to compile questions that are adequate to the criteria being assessed.
It takes time to inform participants, process and analyze the data obtained, and communicate the results to each employee.
It is suitable only for assessing employees with at least six months of work experience, those who have been onboarded and had the chance to show what they are capable of.
Only those who directly interact with the employee and are interested in their performance can become assessors.
Algorithm for conducting a 360-degree feedback survey
1. Determine the objectives of the research. For example, to draw up an individual development plan or evaluate the internal service quality. Make a list of competences that are important for this employee in terms of the objective as well as the employee’s current and future job tasks. For example, a sales manager should have good communication and listening skills, be able to make prompt decisions. A secretary should be attentive to details, good at multitasking, and friendly. The list of competences for each position can be taken from the competence matrix developed by the company, or from the universal competence model from open sources.
2. Develop a questionnaire. For each competence, several questions are usually required.
3. Think of the ways to ensure anonymity of the survey and communicate it to the respondents.
4. Select assessors. They can be those who have regularly interacted with the colleague assessed at for 2–3 months. They must know the person well and have realistic understanding of their competences. If the HR officer is aware of personal relations in the team, they may exclude from the list the friends of the person assessed, as well as those who are in a strained relationship with them.
5. Invite respondents to complete the survey.
When inviting, it is important to communicate the following information:
How will the results be used?
Explain that the summary of the survey results will be used to prepare an employee development plan. Stick to that promise. If employees later learn that the real objective of the survey was to find people to fire, the credibility of this tool will be compromised.
What is the role of the participants?
The employee must clearly understand the task: who they are giving feedback to and whether they will be assessed.
What is the survey timeline?
Without clearly defined time frame, employees will keep on putting off the task. Let your colleagues know when the survey is due and when the feedback will be given based on the results.
Will it be anonymous?
Guarantees of anonymity increase the chances of getting more sincere responses. Otherwise, employees may be afraid to spoil the relationship with the person assessed or provoke a conflict.
It is important to get across to survey participants that the 360-degree survey is designed for providing feedback to a colleague on their strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, you will be doing a disservice to your colleague if you overscore them. In this case your colleague will not learn about their weaknesses and will not address them.
It also useless to underscore somebody just to spite them. The purpose of the 360-degree feedback survey is to create an employee development program, and not to make a decision on giving a raise.
6. Collect responses to the questionnaire.
Send participants an invitation letter with a link to the questionnaire, and regularly monitor incoming responses. To get more and faster responses, send a survey reminder once a week. To reduce the response collection time, finish the survey as soon as you get 80% of the responses.
6. Analyze the results.
The assessment result should be a detailed report on the employee’s competences. Reports may vary in size, from 2 to 40 pages. To make the report more engaging and convenient, combine graphs, tables, texts, and charts to present the results. Group the results into logical blocks and explain how to decipher the report.
The final report usually includes the following:
✔ Comparison of competence results
✔ Hidden opportunities (areas in which an employee performs better than they think)
✔ Blind spots (areas in which an employee performs worse than they think)
✔ Employee’s strengths and weaknesses
If this is not the first assessment, show the results over time in comparison with the previous period.
Once you finish the reports, send them to the assessed employees and their managers and HR officers, if necessary.
7. Give feedback on the assessment results in a considerate way so that the employee perceives them as an opportunity for development and not as a statement that they are unable to fulfill their responsibilities.
8. Help to create a development program.
Recommendations on building a questionnaire
Most questionnaires ask you to express how much you agree with a set of statements describing the competences. As a rule, there are 5–6 questions for each competence.
Please do not use a five-point scale. We are used to the fact that a three (grade C) is bad, and a five (grade A) is excellent. In fact, if you get three points out of five, this is a normal satisfactory result. If you get a five, it means that your results have exceeded expectations. Try to use more fractional scales and refrain from questions that require a quantitative assessment.
You can also add a text description to each scale item to specify the respondent’s attitude towards the situation described.
When faced with problems, the assessed employee solves them on their own.
- Almost never (1 point – low competence level)
- Rarely (2 points – the competence level is lower that required)
- Half the time (3 points – the competence is demonstrated insufficiently)
- Most likely, yes (4 points – the competence is demonstrated consistently)
- Almost always (5 points – the competence level is above the average level).
Trap questions will help you reveal insincere responses. Put two questions identical in meaning but different in wording in different parts of the questionnaire. Then check if the respondent answered them consistently. For example, “The employee knows how to manage conflicts from a standpoint of cooperation, so that it is a win-win situation for all parties” and “The employee usually does not seek to put their own interests before those of other people in a conflict.”
Number of questions
The golden rule in questionnaire building is that the longer the questionnaire, the lower the quality of the data collected. Do not include more than 50 questions in a questionnaire, as its completing will take too long, employees will get tired and start answering without thinking much.
Avoid complex and ambiguous wording so that employees have no doubts and can answer consciously. For example, replace “[Employee’s last name] is client-focused” with “[Employee’s last name] tries to understand customers’ needs and help them.”
Positive and negative statements
Alternate positive and negative statements. This helps to hold the respondent’s attention and avoid responses in auto-pilot mode. Evidence shows that if all statements are positive, employees unconsciously overscore. The same rule applies to negative statements.
Positive statement: Helps their colleagues if they ask them to.
Negative statement: Does not take into account the colleagues’ opinions when solving problems.
Do not use the words “always” and “never”. It is hardly possible to say for sure that someone never does something, for example, never expresses negative emotions.
“I don’t know” option
Add the “I don’t know” option to let the respondent avoid answering. For example, not all colleagues may know how an employee communicates with clients. Let them skip the question so they don’t have to make assumptions.
On the other hand, people may choose this option because they do not want to offend or lower the final score of the person assessed.
If the majority of respondents found it difficult to answer the question, this is a reason to reconsider the wording or survey participants.
Add some open questions to the questionnaire so that respondents could answer in their own words. These responses may be included in the final report as verbatim quotations.
Here are some examples of open questions:
What is Dmitry good at?
What should he stop doing?
What should he continue to do?
Examples of questions in the 360-degree feedback survey questionnaire:
The 360-degree feedback survey most often implies statements rather than questions. It will be easier for employees to make an assessment if the statements describe specific behavior.
- Works towards a common goal. Puts common interests above their own.
- Follows the principles of partnership when interacting with colleagues, is able to negotiate and compromise. Respects and considers the interests of all parties.
- Timely provides the colleagues with the requested information in full. Is ready to advise the colleagues about issues he/she has expertise in.
- Fully performs tasks within their area of responsibility and helps colleagues with related tasks. Takes responsibility for the results.
- Resolves emerging conflicts in an open and constructive manner, focuses on the core of the issue and not on interpersonal relationships.
- Skillfully selects the best executors for current tasks depending on their experience, potential, and individual abilities.
- Clearly formulates complex and non-standard tasks and coordinates their fulfillment. Makes sure that the executor has a correct understanding of all the task components.
- Ensures effective organization of the unit activities in complicated working conditions, such as shortage of time and lack of human and material resources.
Has influence over the colleagues and subordinates. Organizes teamwork and strives for completing tasks.
- Ensures a high employee engagement level and high labor efficiency.
- Gives helpful feedback, identifies the employee’s systematic mistakes and makes development suggestions that help increase the employee’s efficiency.
- Does not hesitate when making decisions in complex work situations that require immediate action.
- Takes full responsibility for the quality and timely completion of all tasks assigned, including those that go beyond the usual set of functions.
The 360-degree feedback employee assessment will be effective if:
- The company has adopted a democratic work style
- The management focuses on teamwork
- Most employees have been working at the company for a long time
- The company has an established corporate culture
- There is friendly environment in the team
The objectives the 360-degree feedback survey is NOT suitable for:
- Form a talent pool
- Make decision to give a raise
- Conduct performance audit
To achieve these goals, objective assessment methods should be used: exams to assess professional knowledge and skills; tests and evaluations of extra skills.
If you use the 360-degree feedback survey for personnel reshuffling, there is a risk of obtaining unreliable data, since employees may distort their responses:
✔ Overscore a colleague to help them keep the position or get promoted
✔ Overscore a colleague at their request so that they get a raise
✔ Underscore a colleague they dislike to prevent them from getting promoted
✔ Underscore a colleague to spite them.
How to ensure anonymity in the 360-degree feedback survey
The 360-degree feedback survey can only be conducted if anonymity is guaranteed.
If you fail to ensure it:
You will not get honest responses. Some will be afraid to strain their relationships or face settling old scores, others are not ready to directly voice their opinion to the person assessed.
This may provoke a conflict between the person assessed and the assessors, since not everyone is able to appropriately perceive critique.
The main ways to conduct an anonymous survey are:
1. A system of boxes or mailboxes for employees to put the completed paper questionnaires: a separate box for the managers of the person assessed, another box for colleagues at the same hierarchy level, and one more box for subordinates.
- Responses may be identified (by handwriting or pen color)
- Not suitable for employees from other offices
- Questionnaires have to be processed manually
2. Disposable mailboxes or Google forms.
Employees create an email that can not be used to identify them, and send completed questionnaires from this email to an HR officer.
- Guarantees respondents’ anonymity
- Suitable for employees from other offices
- Questionnaires have to be processed manually
3. Online survey services.
An HR officer creates questions in the survey builder or selects and edits a ready-made template. The link to the questionnaire is posted on the website, transformed into a QR code, or sent to the email address database. The received data is downloaded in the xls format.
- Guarantees respondents’ anonymity
- Suitable for employees from other offices
- Saves the HR officer’s time
- You have to pay for the online service subscription
The anonymity of responses depends on the number of people in each group, such as managers, colleagues, and subordinates. To ensure anonymity, there must be at least 3 people in each group. A manager may be the only person in the group, since they may not be afraid of the subordinate paying back. At the same time, if one or two employees are subordinate to the person assessed, they should be in the “colleagues” group.
The 360-degree feedback survey can show the employee’s strengths and growth areas. The assessment results will make it clear if the person is fit for the position and how they can improve to bring maximum benefit to the company.
The biggest challenge of this method is to select wordings that clearly and accurately describe manifestation of a particular competence, as well as to ensure total anonymity of the survey.
Create a survey online with PeakPoll Online Survey Maker!