What is 360 degree feedback

360 degree feedback: definition, procedure, tips

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The 360 degree feedback is now part of the standard in personnel development and selection. Specialists in particular, and even more managers, are regularly confronted with this method. Especially when it comes to assessing and developing your skills and potential. Most employees are familiar with the typical employee or feedback discussions with their direct superior. The 360 ​​degree feedback goes beyond that: It is not only the boss's assessment that counts, but many other actors. Process and success factors are not without controversy with this evaluation method. The following dossier gives you an overview of the definition, the optimal process and the advantages and disadvantages of the 360 degree feedback

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition and process of the 360 ​​degree feedback

The classic assessment of employees (90 degree feedback), roughly speaking, usually takes place from two perspectives:

  • The Self-assessment - by the employee (the feedback recipient)
  • The External assessment - by the boss or the direct superior

Ideally, the supervisor takes the employee's self-perception into account, but has the final say, especially about what they do performance evaluation and the associated Target achievement is concerned.

At the 360 degree feedback (also 360 ° feedback or 360 degree assessment called) it works differently. As the name suggests, this is a All-round view and assessment from all sides. The assessment of the direct superior only plays a partial role, a piece of cake in a 360-degree picture, so to speak.

The “round table” was originally developed in the Armed forces, as the forerunner of today's assessment center. Around 1930 it was used to select officer candidates. At that time, the applicant's behavior, the assessment of senior officers and psychologists as well as personality tests and outdoor training were used to assess the applicant.

However, the 360 ​​degree feedback celebrated its breakthrough in the 1980s in the USAwhere it has been used in numerous companies. In this country, it is mainly used by corporations such as Bayer, Lufthansa and Allianz.

For this Multi-rater feedbackAs the method is also called, the skills and performance of the specialist and manager to be assessed should be from different angles be viewed - by people who deal with the person on a regular basis. The following are also possible:

  • the direct superior
  • immediate colleagues
  • Team members (for example in a project)
  • Customers



The typical methods of obtaining this respective feedback are mostly standardized Questionnairesthat facilitate the subsequent evaluation.

The 360 ​​degree feedback is rounded off by the Self-assessment the manager. So here too there are Self-image and external image opposite, and only from the joint analysis does the overall picture and 360-degree profile of the manager emerge - including their skills and strengths, but also their weaknesses and development potential.

The 4 phases of 360 degree feedback

Often the 360 ​​° feedback is used synonymously for any kind of executive feedback, it is the least common among the multi-rater feedback.

The 360-degree feedback runs regularly in four phases from:

  1. Preparation and briefing First of all - usually by the HR department - all necessary feedback providers are identified and informed about the aim and process of the instrument. It is imperative that all parties involved know how the data obtained in this way (keyword: data protection) is treated and whether it is anonymized, for example, so that the feedback providers do not have to fear any reprisals.
  2. Creation of questionnaires and kick-off A precise questionnaire is now often developed by a personnel service provider who specializes in this, which contributes to the previously agreed goals (competence analysis, potential diagnostics, ...).
  3. Analysis and evaluation After everyone has completed the questionnaires (often online), they are merged and evaluated - often in the form of a matrix and clear diagrams (therefore also Reporting phase). For the acceptance of the results, the transparency and traceability of how these results came about are crucial.
  4. Debriefing and implementation Sure, feedback without consequences remains pure occupational therapy. Therefore, the direct superior of the assessed manager is asked to derive individual measures from the data (further training, promotion, optimization of leadership, improvement of cooperation, ...) and to monitor their implementation.

Differences between the types of feedback: 90 degrees, 180 degrees, 360 degrees

In order to be able to change or improve something, you need external feedback. Managers and employees are no exception.

However, managers in particular are more likely to get rarely constructive criticism mirrored, because the fear of negative consequences on the employee side is too great.

Sometimes that leads to one distorted, because unreflected self-imagethat can have a negative impact on the company's success. Feedback discussions should therefore be part of the corporate culture. It is not only about improving the self-perception of the feedback recipient, but also about motivating the employees:

With their assessment they contribute to To take responsibility. You actively create an atmosphere of constructive cooperation and influence important issues. There are different types of feedback:

  • 90 degree feedback

    The form of feedback already outlined above also applies vice versa for managers and is one of the most frequently used feedbacks. Here, on the one hand, the feedback recipient assesses himself - for example a manager - and, on the other hand, his behavior and his leadership skills are assessed by the employees. The aim is to come to a convergence between self-image and external image. A variant of 90 degree feedback is that a supervisor evaluates his employees to assess their performance and they also assess their own performance. The greater the discrepancy between the perception of others and the perception of oneself, the greater the need for conversation.

  • Multi-source or multi-rater feedback

    All feedback that goes beyond the 90 degree feedback, that is, takes into account several "sources", that is, perspectives in the assessment, is classified as Multi-source or Multi-rater feedback designated. A distinction is made here between:

    • 180 degree feedback: This feedback is suitable for all hierarchy levels where there are direct superiors. With 180 degree feedback, the feedback recipient is assessed by both his employees and his direct superior, and he also evaluates his own behavior. In the case of high potentials, the evaluation is carried out by the employees of colleagues at the same hierarchical level.
    • 270 degree feedback: With this form of feedback, the direct supervisor and the employees are also assessed by colleagues at the same hierarchical level. It is used for employees from lower and middle management, as there are too few colleagues at higher hierarchical levels to be able to objectively evaluate the feedback recipient.
    • 360 degree feedback: In contrast to all other forms of feedback, an external evaluation is also used here. This is done either by partners or customers. With regard to executives to be evaluated, this form of evaluation only makes sense if the feedback recipient actually has a lot of customer contact and the aim is to increase customer friendliness, for example.

360 degree assessment: advantages and disadvantages of employee assessment

As already mentioned, the 360 ​​degree feedback does not enjoy a consistently positive reputation. Although at first glance there are some advantages owns:

  • objectivity

    Because several people are involved in the feedback, the subsequent profile becomes sharper and more objective - that is, more independent of the subjective assessment, mood or arbitrariness of an individual (superior).

  • Potential recognition

    Simplified, one could also say: Many see more than one. Applied correctly, a comprehensive view from several perspectives often reveals undreamt-of (and unused) skills and talents in the employee. The same advantages for employees and the company.

That’s the theory. These obvious advantages of the instrument are, however, also a few sources of error and disadvantage which are repeatedly criticized, for example, by personnel decision-makers (PDF):

  • expenditure

    Compared to the classic employee appraisal, there are significantly more parties involved in 360 degree feedback. Questionnaires have to be developed, the participants have to be interviewed, the results have to be collated and evaluated. An enormous effort that the result has to justify first.

  • Goal setting

    If the aim and purpose of the all-round analysis are not clear to those involved, the results can be falsified - even if only out of sheer nicety. In addition, the 360 ​​degree feedback is rather unsuitable for performance assessment, for example, because this can only be assessed by the disciplinary superior and cannot be delegated.

  • Measurability

    Every human judgment always harbors the risk of arbitrariness. For acceptance (see next point) it is therefore very important that the assessments made can be measured as objectively as possible. The more concretely the (sought) competencies are described, the more useful the result of the 360-degree feedback.

  • acceptance

    And last but not least, the process must be accepted by all parties involved. Otherwise it is either not taken seriously (which tends to lead to fun analyzes) or manipulation attempts or acts of sabotage can occur (which in turn makes it impossible to implement the result).

Success factors: This is how 360 degree feedback works

As you can see, the essential basis for such comprehensive feedback is on the one hand mutual trust, but also one compatible Corporate culture that tends to apply to employees themselves below average rating Leaves space and opportunities. Otherwise, the employees experience numerous worries and fears - or the feedback even as Soul striptease.

Last but not least, there are some companies that use the method to do this to separate from unwelcome employees - based on appearances quite objectively.

So that the 360 ​​degree feedback succeeds and can exploit the full potential, there are a few essential success factors to be taken into account, as the management professor Waldemar Pelz calls them:

  1. anonymity

    Both feedback providers and feedback recipients should be clear from the outset that the reviews can only be open and honest if the feedback providers remain anonymous. It's about the overall picture, the all-round feedback - not about individual opinions.

  2. reference

    The identified competencies and potentials should always have a concrete reference to the company or the targeted position (e.g. as a manager). This increases the visible benefit of the feedback and also increases the motivation for implementation. This effect is further increased if the 360 ​​degree feedback is established as part of the corporate culture and lived constructive criticism at all levels of cooperation.

  3. Development plan

    Often the feedback focuses too much on deficits and weaknesses. However, the aim of the procedure is to discover (unused) potential and to achieve improvements. So that the feedback recipient feels less attacked, the strengths should not be neglected and the results flow into a so-called development plan - an implementation that serves both sides.

  4. Development control

    Initiated measures should of course be observed and the success checked. After the 360 ​​degree feedback is before the feedback discussion: Feedback providers and recipients should therefore make a binding agreement on when they will talk to each other again and about what, for example, has already improved or where further support is needed. This is the only way to experience measurable success.

Employee reactions: the SARA model

Wherever there is criticism and negative feedback, the reactions of employees range from rejection and anger to acceptance and acceptance. Quite a few executives experience a real one Roller coaster ride of emotionsas it is also typical for life crises - especially when the feedback is with serious consequences or changes for the employee.

In science this reaction spectrum is also called SARA model designated. Behind this is an acronym that is derived from the four phases - Shock, Anger, Resistance and Acceptance - combined and can be of different severity:

Managers who provide feedback to the employee based on 360-degree feedback should be prepared for this and prepared be:

  1. Shock

    Anyone who receives negative feedback usually reacts in shock at first: “Can't be at all! Certainly a mistake has been made ... " The reason is the sudden break between self and external perception. The person concerned has to process that first.

  2. Anger

    In the second phase, most respond with a kind of forward defense: Because what cannot be what cannot be, the blame must lie with others. Instead of honestly questioning and reflecting on oneself (which is more unpleasant), responsibility is delegated: to lousy circumstances, nasty colleagues, envious people, stupid surveys.

  3. Resistance

    Because the feedback is associated with (sometimes painful, sometimes time-consuming) changes, resistance grows in phase 3: "I'm just like that ... That's too much, nobody can ask that of me!" Quite a few resist with all rhetorical means, always finding new reasons and arguments. This is the most difficult phase for managers.

  4. Acceptance

    At some point - hopefully - the final phase of the emotional rollercoaster ride will follow: The employee concerned accepts the feedback and also his share in the situation. Now the way is clear for changes and constructive development work. But only in phase 4.

Managers should be aware, however, that this Reactions can be delayed and only appear days after the conversation can. In the appraisal interview itself, the colleagues initially remain calm on the outside and shocked on the inside. Maybe you don’t want to show yourself naked and first of all digest. Either way, you should observe the employees closely and, if necessary, have a second interview.

360 degree feedback criticism: Preferably with support

In personnel development, 360 degree feedback is a recognized method for promoting leadership development. Studies have shown, however, that this form of feedback despite all efforts to be objectivity and anonymity not always to success to lead.

The reasons for this are diverse; on the one hand, the phases described in the SARA model, the lead to rejection can. On the other hand, in addition to the acceptance of the manager (the feedback recipient), certain conditions must also be met. Various studies come to the conclusion that the 360 ​​degree feedback tool sometimes fails.

The reason for this: The survey is carried out, the result is presented and the manager at the end with the result left alone. Not all of them have enough self-reflection to be able to implement the results accordingly. A study by the American company Decision Wise came to the following conclusion:

  • Become the managers in processing their 360 degree feedback accompanied, 94 percent of them rate the method as useful.
  • On the other hand, the managers become not accompanied, only 34 percent rate the 360 ​​degree feedback positively.

That means that with more than half of the participants, namely 66 percent, this survey does nothing. Which, conversely, is an enormous one Waste of time and money means and in the end only leaves the participants frustrated. To prevent this, the manager should be offered help in processing the results.

This can happen, for example, through coaching, with a first mood is asked. The feedback recipient and coach then work together to determine which objectives, which learning and development areas and which approaches are available.

In addition to the classic approach through coaching, there is the possibility of through Feedback with the supervisor the manager to process the results, to proceed through a kind of written coaching based on worksheets, or to exchange ideas with other managers at a similar hierarchical level in peer workshops.

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