360 review

What is a 360 review?

A 360 review (360-degree review) is a continuous performance management strategy aimed at helping employees at all levels obtain responses from various parts of an organization in order to develop and sharpen their professional skills.

During this review, up to 12 people -- ranging from the employee's boss, peers, reporting staff members, functional managers, coworkers, customers and suppliers -- fill out an anonymous online form with questions covering a range of workplace skills. Their combined feedback is then used to provide insight into the employee’s teamwork, communication, leadership potential, organizational goals, management skills, behavior and impact.

While traditional employee performance appraisals are designed to provide employees with assessments of their performance by managers who are focused on the progress the employee has made on reaching specific job goals, the 360-degree review places more emphasis on the effect the employee has on others.

Results from the 360 review are used to identify a starting point for developing new skills, measure progress as the subject works on skills over time and pinpoint the personal blind spots of behavior. In addition to providing feedback for in-house staff, this type of feedback can support remote workers and give managers insights about the performance of employees they may not see every day.

360 review benefits and drawbacks

Proponents of 360-degree feedback believe that this approach not only provides improved feedback, but it also fosters team, personal and organizational performance development; encourages responsibility; reduces discrimination risk; leads to better customer service; and identifies future training needs. The entire review is designed to promote self-awareness, promote dialog, improve working relationships, increase accountability and boost performance.

Critics point out that there are a few challenges to using this strategy. First, they maintain that receiving feedback does not fundamentally change a person and the manager must hold the employee accountable to see change. Second, critics of the 360-degree review strategy urge managers to keep regular performance feedback procedures in place while integrating this new approach into company culture.

This was last updated in July 2023

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