What Is a 360 Review and How Does It Work?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 4, 2022 | Published September 29, 2021

Updated October 4, 2022

Published September 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It's important for a company to regularly evaluate its employees. A formal review process help organizations understand a staff member's performance and highlight areas to improve or excel. Understanding a specific review method, such as a 360 review, can help you prepare for the process so that it will be more helpful to your career. In this article, we answer the question, "What is a 360 review?" explore its benefits, discuss how it works and describes how to get the most out of one.

What is a 360 review?

A 360 review is a unique performance review method because it goes beyond the input of an employee's direct manager. Peers, staff from separate departments, and even the business' customers can contribute to a staff member's performance review. The benefit of a 360 review is that it provides a well-rounded, comprehensive evaluation of an employee and how they affect all parts of the organization. Understanding what a 360 review is and how it works is essential in gaining as much from the process as possible.

Related: What Is a Performance Review? (Definition and Examples)

Benefits of the 360 performance review

Because a 360 review goes beyond the input of just an employee's direct manager, staff members receive more comprehensive feedback from more areas of an organization. If a manager supervises many employees, accurately tracking every individual's performance may be challenging. A 360 review can provide insight that may not be regularly available.

The feedback customers or clients give you directly can be very valuable because it addresses their experiences and needs. Similarly, feedback from peers and colleagues holds all staff accountable and motivates a team to improve. The client and customer feedback methods also provide the greatest chance of having your skills and successes reported.

Related: 17 Performance Review Tips for Employees

How a 360 review works

Companies can conduct a 360 review in various ways, and methods differ from one organization to the next. Sometimes, a manager requests feedback from the people you interact with the most in your workplace to understand your performance in the fairest way. Once a manager selects the process by which they will conduct the 360 reviews, they may carry it out by:

  • Selecting individuals to provide feedback, ideally in a group comprising various workplace points of contact

  • Requesting personalized feedback and collecting the responses

  • Identifying any apparent patterns that consistently exhibit themselves

  • Determining whether you need to improve on anything or request compensation for good work with a raise or a promotion

How are 360 reviews conducted?

A manager can choose to conduct 360 reviews in several ways. Each method has its own benefits and depends on the nature of your workplace. It may be the most effective way for a supervisor to request feedback about your performance. The most common types of 360 reviews are:

Peer-to-peer interviews

A more personal way to gather feedback from your colleagues is to host peer-to-peer interviews. This method promotes workplace communication and allows staff to work together on solutions, processes and group dynamics. The benefit of face-to-face peer reviews is that they can quickly identify consistent areas for a team to improve.

Related: 18 People Skills for a Productive Work Environment

Electronic surveys

In contrast to in-person peer interviews, an electronic survey can offer each participant anonymity, leading to a more honest review. In addition, these surveys may ask you to rate your peer's performance on a variable scale or offer you the chance to provide specific comments. Ideally, particular examples accompany any criticism you receive to give you the best understanding of where and how you can improve in the workplace. Often, review software can calculate statistics or correlate results to make it easier to understand your strongest qualities or areas that need improvement.

Outside consultants

A common practice is for organizations to hire a consultant who specializes in carrying out 360 review processes. A specialist streamlines the feedback-gathering process and removes the burden of conducting and gathering reviews from management. Specialized consultants carry out assessments with a higher level of diligence, professionalism and expertise. Another significant benefit of using a consultant is that they can deliver unbiased, anonymous and impartial 360 reviews without suppressed or omitted feedback.

Manager request

Manager requests are probably the simplest and most common way staff participate in a 360 review. For example, a manager may request that you provide feedback about a colleague by filling out a physical or digital form. In addition, they may target specific qualities, such as work ethic, customer service and productivity, or request comments on your coworker's performance based on your experience working with them.

Not only do managers sometimes ask you to review your peers, but they often request feedback about their leadership style. This allows employees to provide feedback on how their supervisors manage them and suggest ways to improve their work experience.

Related: How Employee Performance Is Measured and Why It's Important

How to make the most of your 360 review

Follow these steps to use your 360 reviews as a learning and career development opportunity:

1. Be open to criticism

Keep in mind that the goal of a performance review is to improve the team's overall performance. There are probably elements you can improve upon in some way. Every type of performance review, especially 360 reviews, provides a valuable opportunity to identify areas where you can reach your utmost potential. You can turn areas that require improvement into new strengths by being open to constructive criticism you receive during the review process. Always try to see negative feedback as a potential learning opportunity and use it as professional development.

Related: What Are Performance Reports? (With Benefits and Tips)

2. Identify your strengths

You may receive plenty of positive, constructive feedback on your performance in the workplace. Receiving this type of feedback is a great opportunity to identify what you do best and capitalize on those skills and attributes. For example, you may learn your demeanour and communication skills make you an effective team member in your workplace or that your attention to detail is a major strength. Being aware of your positive and most effective traits means you can use your strengths to their fullest and improve your performance overall.

Related: How To Perform a Self-Assessment (With Example)

3. Find positive and negative patterns

Since a 360 review gathers feedback from multiple sources, you can identify patterns across the various reviews you receive. This could highlight a positive habit, such as a tendency to ask useful questions or reveal an area that several people feel you could improve, like interpersonal skills, attributes that appear in feedback from more than one person and likely patterns that recur in your workplace performance. It's important to be aware of and actively look for these work patterns, whether they're positive or represent areas needing improvement.

4. Know where to grow

Once you've identified any areas for improvement in your performance, you can treat these as serious growth and professional development opportunities. Remember that the review process and your subsequent growth in response make you a more effective employee and increase your chances of receiving a raise or promotion. It can also lead to greater job satisfaction and fulfillment. Making these positive changes can represent the difference between staying where you are and being rewarded for your growth.

Related: How To Write an Action Plan To Help You Achieve Your Goals

5. Remember that feedback is typically anonymous

Unless the manager conducts reviews face-to-face, you will most likely receive anonymous feedback. The benefit of this is that the feedback can be more honest, and you can look at it objectively. In addition, several factors can influence someone's responses to your performance, so remain aware that there may be some inconsistent responses and advice in your review. By looking at and valuing all the feedback, you can choose the most relevant and important aspects to work on first.

6. Plan for the future

Once you've completed the 360 review process, you need to decide what to do next. It's a good idea to construct a plan for implementing positive changes and use your strengths to their fullest. Consider how you can develop within the company and proactively engage with your supervisor by making suggestions for your growth. Set achievable goals and aim to complete them within a particular timeframe. Ideally, the next time you have a 360 performance review, any areas of improvement previously suggested have become your strengths.

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