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360 Degree Appraisal -A Brief Guide for HR

7 min read   |  
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Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to review an employee where everyone, the employee, you, and your team, comes out satisfied? To solve this issue, we have 360 Degree Appraisal, where feedback on a group or an individual is taken from all the possible stakeholders.

One can collect the data from reporting managers, team members, colleagues, or clients. The feedback received is generally anonymous and confidential. The basic procedure is generally the distribution of a digital form that needs to be submitted by the people concerned.

The questions on the form are to be answered on a rating scale, i.e., you are supposed to give a rating against a particular quality or subject. On top of multi-rater feedback, the form can also include space for optional comments.

What is 360 Degree Appraisal?

A 360-degree appraisal can be defined as an anonymous employee performance review process in which an employee is collectively rated by subordinates, co-workers, and managers. It helps organizations gain valuable insights into organizational leadership, team functions, and overall company culture.

Why 360 Degree Appraisal?

Let us look at why 360 Degree Appraisal is so popular amongst all the top organizations worldwide.

Performance Management

This type of performance appraisal method aligns appropriately with the desired performance management system of a company. The data collected from the feedback is used for the review of an employee; with the size and frequency of the data available, you can effectively track and develop the performance of your workforce.

Employee Development

This is one of the core reasons why companies opt for an overall feedback system. Human resource management uses these data from the survey to fill the gaps in the employees' skillsets. This makes sure that the organization is up to date and well accustomed to the current trends in the industry.

Onboarding and Training

Companies want to have a structured way of training and getting new employees on board. It helps the companies identify the type of skills required and make arrangements for fresh new talent.

Also, it helps companies to make arrangements for a promotion. It helps to familiarise the administration with the strength and weaknesses of a new leader. This makes sure that the company doesn’t lose too much time adapting to changes.

These are broadly the reasons why companies opt for such an appraisal system.

How to Conduct 360 Degree Appraisal?

We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.
– Bill Gates

Conducting 360 Degree Appraisal is nothing at all like a hot knife through butter. It would help if you kept in mind certain necessary things to make sure the appraisal process goes smoothly.

1. Define a Purpose

A 360 Degree Appraisal is best for organizations where things mainly depend on the team's cross-functional abilities. Unlike other reviews, you need to establish a purpose for which you are keen on gathering meaningful feedback from everyone associated.

Here, the purpose of the 360 Degree Appraisal could be anything, for example:

  • Understanding the scale of interoperability between team members?

  • Looking out for loopholes that could arise at any point of contact or while functioning.

  • For getting an unbiased view about the employees from all, they have been in contact with.

  • Giving out meaningful and actionable comments for them to improve their capabilities from all angles.

Well, the list of purposes will vary as per the business requirements, so if you're thinking of starting with 360 Degree Appraisal, consider why you need it!

2. Setting the Competencies

360 Degree Appraisal process is highly effective when you want your employees to get an overall outlook of their performance as valuable team members. To streamline the process, you need to decide the core competencies you want to count on while taking in the feedback from different teams.

All the competencies that you decide upon should directly relate to the employees' job role and address the organization's things.

3. Curating a Relevant Questionnaire

For the 360 Degree Feedback, you need to pick the right questions for everyone who is a part of the process. These survey questions are crucial for helping you identify the areas where the employees are excelling and the issues which require immediate attention.

Also, since you will take the feedback from multiple team members, you need to assess the questions from their point of view. For example, if you're collecting information on the performance of a marketing person from the developers who work closely with each other, then try to get the latter point of view and vice versa.

4. Maintaining Confidentiality

The core motive of employee surveys is to help the workers understand their strengths and work on their weaknesses. And in the entire process, the contributors' identity and their views should remain confidential to hold the effectiveness of the appraisal.

Once it is assured, the raters can give out accurate information, which will help you give better constructive feedback to the employees.

5. Please Take it as a Pilot Project First

If you're adopting the 360 Degree Feedback process for the first time, I would advise you to begin with a pilot project. 360-degree appraisals aren't like typical employee surveys. Since you need to get feedback from multiple people, there's always a high chance that something might go off-track.

So, to avoid such a situation, you can begin with a small set of people and then test out your efforts before you roll it out for the entire organization.

But, 360 Degree Appraisal is not the magic wand you were looking for. It, of course, comes with its own sets of advantages and disadvantages. Let's look at a few of those.


Advantages of 360 Degree Appraisal

Creates Self Awareness

360-Degree feedback gives employees a much need opportunity to introspect. Since this is a holistic process, employees have a greater insight into their strengths and weaknesses, which motivates them towards self-improvement. This kind of feedback process further leads to an increase in employees' skillsets, discipline, and motivation, which reduces employee attrition. The logic is simple: if an employee receives the same feedback from multiple persons, he/she is more likely to act towards it.

Increases Transparency in the Workplace

This is one of the apparent benefits of such a feedback process. When we talk about one on one appraisal, the review is more asymmetrically skewed than you think. It leaves ample room for misjudgment and wrong decisions, which can hamper the performance and decrease the revenue.

In a 360-Degree Feedback system, here is a greater level of transparency. Feedback tools such as these help employees have more trust in the design and the decisions by the managers and leaders. A transparent workforce increases accountability and enables managers to optimize their choices.

Recommended Resource: Why Transparency In The Workplace Can Help Your Business Grow

The Pool of Knowledge

One of the lesser-known benefits of this performance appraisal method is that it presents you with a pool of extensive data regarding your employees.

When 360 Degree Appraisal is used correctly and efficiently, you have a solid foundation on to base your HR and recruiting policies. Also, investing in a 360-degree feedback system helps keep track of improvements, especially in the softer areas like discipline, motivation, leadership, etc.

Greater Insight into Staff Members

360 Degree Feedback is a great way to gain deeper insight into your staff members than a one-on-one review. It helps employers understand the roles of employees better beyond the apparent outcome. Managers can understand how an individual fits in a team in other aspects that need not necessarily be related to a project. This enables managers to create a dynamic that communicates effectively. This further increases employee engagement in your organization and drives employee performance.

Proper Training

It's easier to train your new employees when you have an idea of qualities that make the team tick. This is, in fact of the most important benefits of a good 360 Degree feedback system. The data you acquire from managers, peers, subordinates, or even clients can point out gaps in the skillsets required in your industry. Subsequently, you can tweak and adjust your training programs to suit the current trends.

Disadvantages of 360 Degree Appraisal

Susceptible to Dishonest Reviews

This one is probably the most glaring and obvious disadvantage of 360 Degree performance appraisal method. If your employees don't trust your system, then you are likely to gather dishonest feedbacks. People will generally start giving feedback that you like to hear, which will render the feedback system useless.

Also, suppose employees are aware that the data could be used forperformance review, In that case, they could feed false data to downplay others or make collective arrangements for a better review.

Efficient but Slow

There is no doubt that this appraisal system is efficient, but most managers will agree that it is slow. The person receiving the mail usually postpones the feedback for the latter, or worse, he might even forget about it. Others who appreciate the importance of the feedback typically end up overthinking the rating, which further delays the appraisal.

The irony is that these are the easier or, in fact, the "faster" aspects of such a feedback process. The challenging part is to compile the various data and come up with the result that will satisfy all the stakeholders. A software might somewhat speed up the process, but coming up with a final decision will remain a challenge.

Suspicious And Distrustful Environment

As the reviews submitted are generally with authority, this creates an environment of suspicions regarding safeguarding the data. This leads to people thinking twice before submitting the reviews.

Also, if a leader or the management fails to act upon the feedback, then employees might feel that it was a pointless exercise. This will lead to employees not taking the surveys seriously and making a dent in the manager's accountability. It might also lead to the loss of employee engagement.

So, it is vital that when implementing a 360 Degree Appraisal system, you act upon the data and come up with the result that satisfies everyone.


360 Degree performance appraisal is useful for an organization as they provide a holistic view of the employees’ performance. It provides the views from various perspectives which leads to the fair feedback of an employees’ performance.

I hope that this article will help you become a great 360 evaluator and add to your leadership qualities.

This article is written by Iftekar Ahmed. He works as a Content Creator and Digital Marketer at Vantage Circle. When he is not playing guitar or solving puzzles, he is often seen fussing over foods he can't eat because he is on a perennial dieting spree. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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