A 360-degree survey is a type of performance evaluation where an employee receives feedback on their work from multiple sources. The employee is evaluated not only by their manager, but also by their coworkers and direct reports, and possibly even customers, clients, vendors, or others who they regularly interact with as part of their job.
A 360-degree survey is often conducted as an online questionnaire sent to a group of people that includes the subject’s supervisor, colleagues, direct reports, and other stakeholders. The questions are designed to assess a range of skills, behaviors, and competencies that are relevant to the employee’s role.
The feedback provided may include both ratings and written comments, and it is usually anonymous and confidential. The responses provided by people in the same category (e.g., direct reports) might be combined in order to preserve anonymity.
A 360-degree survey provides insights from multiple perspectives, which is not possible with a traditional performance review conducted by one’s manager. It offers a more balanced approach and thus provides a more complete picture of an employee’s strengths and weaknesses.
Receiving feedback from different directions makes it possible for the employee to understand how their work is perceived by different stakeholders, and how their work contributes to the functioning of the organization as a whole. It makes it easier to build on their strengths as well as identify areas for improvement, which can inform subsequent training and professional development. The information gathered can also be a great source of qualitative data to track as part of your HR strategy.
The 360-degree approach also has the potential to improve teamwork, since feedback from one’s peers can help people develop greater self-awareness and improve the way they work with their colleagues. Moreover, teammates being accountable to each other ultimately helps the team perform better as a whole.