An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

What is a 360 Degree Survey?

360 Degree Survey Overview

A 360 survey, also called a 360 review or 360-degree feedback, is a process that solicits feedback on an employee’s performance from several different sources: managers, peers, reports, and self-assessments. In cases where the employee interacts with the public, a 360 survey may also include feedback from clients, suppliers, contractors, or vendors.

The goal of 360 surveys is to help employees understand how their work, skills, and behaviors affect people of all levels at their organization. 360 surveys can offer a comprehensive view of performance, and more importantly, identify areas for improvement.

A 360 survey generally includes a list of statements or questions that are organized into competency categories. The scores are averaged out in each category, which is then presented to the employee.

What Is the Purpose of a 360 Survey?

The purpose of a 360 survey is to help employees excel in their roles and boost their engagement. The results of a 360 survey can help employees:

What Are the Pros and Cons of 360 Surveys?

Organizational leaders need to understand the pros and cons of 360 surveys, so they can map out an effective feedback strategy.

The Pros of 360 Surveys

Here are the main benefits 360 surveys offer:

The Cons of 360 Surveys

Without the right training or understanding of the purpose behind 360 surveys, these reviews can backfire and actually have a negative effect on employee productivity and workplace culture. The drawbacks of 360 surveys could include:

When Should 360 Surveys Be Used?

As with other feedback sources, one of the challenges with 360 surveys is deciding when this type of feedback method should be used. Not all organizations will be a good fit for it. There are conditions that should be met to ensure an effective assessment process.

Employers should use 360 surveys if:

It’s important to ensure 360 surveys will work at your business. Therefore, employers should customize this feedback system as needed to set up their employees for success.

How Often Should 360 Surveys Be Used?

360 surveys should be conducted every six to 12 months. This allows enough time for:

You also need to consider how this additional performance assessment method fits in with your other performance review cycles, if any.

If employers want to see changes, they must do their part to help employees stay accountable. Leaders should periodically review their employees’ progress during the six- to 12-month time frame. Employees can ask questions, and managers can offer guidance and coaching.

How Do You Deliver 360 Survey Results?

Employers should deliver 360 survey results to employees in person rather than through email. In-person sessions offer a personalized experience that can lead to more productive conversations. Employees can ask questions and get answers in the moment, rather than have to write them up and wait for their manager to respond. Employees might also be more comfortable asking questions in person than in writing, and they’re more likely to take bad news well if they can talk through the problems instead of stewing or feeling like they've been blindsided by a written review that lacks context or explanation.


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