Organizational Wellness

What Is a 360 Review? Here’s How to Perform One — And Why You Should.

Feb 9, 2023
Last Updated Jan 11, 2024

Everybody loves things a full 360. Think about it! 360 views, 360 turns, 360 flips — 360 everything is great. So let’s introduce the next big 360: 360 reviews at work. 

Wait, what? A work review? How can a workplace performance review have anything to do with 360? The performance 360 review is named because it’s all about feedback from every direction, not just top-down. Since reviews are crucial to performance management, these 360 reviews can be a great addition to your strategy.

So let’s jump right into 360 reviews, how they work, why you might want to start using them, and how to get started.


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What Is a 360 Review? 

Let’s start at the beginning: what is a 360 review? We’ve already hinted that it’s a workplace review from all directions, but let’s dig into that idea. A 360 review (also called 360 feedback, 360 evaluation, review 360, peer feedback, multi-directional feedback) is a talent development tool where an employee gets feedback from many different people and directions – like coworkers and project partners – so they can get a better understanding of their work and how to grow. 

You can get 360 feedback from the employee’s manager, other staff members, their peer staff members, their team members, functional managers the employee works with regularly, and even customers or clients. The point here is that they aren’t just getting feedback from their direct manager because the manager has a limited perspective on the employee’s entire performance at the organization. By adding in other employees, other managers, and even customers, you get a broad view of an employee’s performance. You get, well… a 360 view. 

How to Conduct a 360 Review

  1. Establish Rating Criteria

Before you dive into the reviews, it’s time to set up exactly how you plan to evaluate and rate your employees. What are you looking for during this review? How are you going to get that information? And finally, how are you going to give that information to the employee? 

Depending on your goals, your rating criteria might include anything along the lines of: 

  • Leadership. That can include anything like decision-making, responsibility, and approachability
  • Communication. Communication involves more than talking; it’s also about listening and nonverbal communication. You might include the ability to receive and give feedback constructively. 
  • Teamwork. This might include how willing someone is to help, their participation in the team, and their reliability. 
  • Organization. You might include time and project management.
  • Interpersonal skills. These skills matter too. So you might evaluate confidence, empathy, positivity, stress management, and enthusiasm. 
  • Company alignment. You can even consider evaluating how well an employee understands the values, mission, vision, strategic plans, and processes of your company. 

You can consider having these surveys involve ratings on a scale with responses to explain the rating. Or you might consider keeping it all open ended and later compiling the feedback into trends. However you choose, the goal is to have it set up before you send out surveys. 

  1. Determine Who Will Assess Each Employee

A 360 review often has a reviewer. The reviewer is the person who will collect all of the feedback about the person being reviewed, look for patterns, and trends to discuss with the employee. There are three people commonly selected to be the reviewer: 

  • The manager. The employee’s manager can compile everything and talk with the employee. This approach can be nice because the employee and manager already have a relationship. 
  • A third-party reviewer. You can also hire someone to do the assessments. This reviewer won’t know the employees and will only compile and analyze the information for you. 
  • An HR manager. HR is all about people, so it can be a great opportunity to build relationships by sitting down with each team member. This choice can also blend the best of both worlds: it’s someone the employee knows, but it’s not someone who they work too closely with. 

  1. Send Surveys Out

Once you’ve set up how you’re evaluating and doing the survey, it’s time to send the surveys out. It’s often easier to do digital surveys, but you can consider doing interviews as well. Who could you send surveys to? Ideally, a 360 review will include feedback from six to people (alongside the self-assessment). Here are a few groups of people to consider: 

  • Their Manager. It can be powerful to have the employee’s manager provide feedback. They see the employee on a day-to-day basis and know exactly how their work is affecting the team as a whole.
  • Team Members. The team members are the ones who are working alongside the employee you’re assessing. They know about more than an employee’s performance. They know what it’s like to be on a team with them. They can be a great source of information of what it’s really like to work alongside someone.  
  • Customers or Clients. You can even look for feedback from the very people the individual is working to help. These people can give great insight into how client relationships are and how attentive the employee is to customers. 
  • The Individual. You can consider having the employee do a self-assessment to get insights into their own perceptions of their work. 

For great balance, it can be good to include people from all three of those areas. And — where possible — give each survey participant at least a week to respond.

  1. Schedule the Evaluation

Once you’ve sent out the surveys and gotten feedback, it’s time to schedule a meeting for you (or whoever is doing the review) to sit down and chat with the employee. It can be helpful to book the evaluation at least a week in advance and to send out a formal invite (that way it’s on both of your calendars!). 

  1. Review Ratings With the Employee

On the day of the evaluation, you can sit down and review the ratings with the employee. To make the review really successful, don’t forget to spend time really praising each person for their strengths. Constructive feedback is helpful too. You might consider setting goals at the end for the employee to continue growing. 

  1. Check In on Progress

Don’t let those goals you set fall to the wayside! Take opportunities to check in on each individual’s progress with their goals. 

The goal, no matter the method, is to share feedback with the person being reviewed. The feedback shared should be as descriptive as possible. Sharing feedback can help the team come together to unite their efforts to improve. 

Why Use 360 Reviews? 

Let’s assess why companies choose to use 360 reviews and how to address their limitations so you can implement them successfully.

The Benefits of 360 Reviews

There are several reasons to deploy this review method:

  • Better quality feedback. Traditional reviews only provide feedback from one person—the direct manager. That’s it. Sometimes that feedback is quality, but sometimes managers struggle to provide meaningful feedback. (Doing so is a skill to itself, afterall.) 360 reviews helps mitigate that. Gathering feedback from multiple sources increases the amount of data you get, which provides a clearer picture of how an employee is performing, which is better quality feedback.  
  • More diverse feedback. Along the same lines, when you gather feedback from a variety of sources, you gather more diverse feedback. A manager’s perspective is just that: a manager’s perspective. With 360 feedback, you can work with a wider array of input.
  • Insight into improvement. Employees are looking for ways to improve, and 29% of employees would consider leaving a job that didn’t provide opportunities for growth. So finding those sweet spots where you can help employees improve is so important — and 360 reviews can help with that. The consolidation of all that feedback can give insight into places for growth and development, something employees need and want. 

These reviews also help pinpoint areas the organization can improve. If 360 reviews show that employees are struggling with motivation or morale, that’s potentially a bigger-picture issue with the organization that you now know about and can work to improve that for everyone. Organizational development at its finest, right?  

  • Value for everyone involved. Reviews are definitely beneficial for the employees getting feedback. But 360 reviews are also valuable for the managers themselves. By gathering feedback from a variety of sources, managers can see how employees are perceiving certain aspects of the work environment. This insight can help managers learn how to better manage and develop teams. 
  • More trustworthy. Employees don’t always trust the feedback they receive from their managers. But they’re more likely to trust feedback from so many sources. And employee trust in your business operations is so important — employees in high-trust environments are 76% more engaged.
  • Online options. Here’s the thing: the world is much more digital than it’s ever been. So having online options is a great perk of 360 reviews. You can gather feedback very strategically from a variety of sources all online, and you can use software to compile it all into scores as well. 

The Limitations of 360 Reviews 

So what’s stopping the whole world from using 360 reviews? After all, those are some pretty great pros. Well, there are a few downsides that some companies run into: 

  • Can be a little vague. There isn’t a universal standard for 360 reviews, so sometimes the process can end up unstructured and vague. If the feedback ends up vague, it’s hard to benefit and grow from it. So the key to implementing 360 feedback is to create a structured process for your company that works with your team and industry. With a process in place, you can get your employees specific feedback and avoid this downside completely. 
  • Could suffer from a limit of individuals to provide feedback. To get 360 feedback, you do need employees from which to solicit feedback. If you have few reviewers, the feedback could end up limited and narrow. If this is a problem your organization faces, it could be a great opportunity to bring in a third-party reviewer (or two or three) to observe and perform a thorough review. Also don’t forget to gather customer feedback as another way to bring in an additional perspective!
  • Not following through on feedback. Employees have to be open to applying feedback for the 360 review to be effective. Help employees understand the true value of a broad review like this so they’re more motivated to follow through on its ultimate recommendations. And to make sure an organization follows through too: Consider ahead of time what you will to act on any insights that emerge about where your organization can develop. 
  • Requires more time and energy. A 360 review requires more effort than your traditional one-way assessment. Some organizations consider this a con, but the additional benefits that come from the more intensive process can be worth the additional investment.

Questions to Ask

So you want to get started with a 360 review of your very own. How do you do that? Here are a few things to consider when crafting questions: 

  • Focus on attributes, not just performance
  • Craft questions to address one competency at a time
  • Think about how you might identify blindspots

With that in mind, here are some sample questions to add to your next 360 review:

  • Does the employee provide solutions to difficult customer problems?
  • Does the employee carry out duties without issue?
  • Does the employee communicate effectively with customers? Managers? Other employees? 
  • Does the employee create opportunities for discussion and dialogue?
  • Does this employee show respect to others in their team?
  • Does the employee collaborate with others effectively in a team?
  • Is the employee able to work independently to fix a problem?
  • Does the employee live the company values daily?

360 Review FAQs

What Is the Purpose of a 360 Review?

The purpose of a 360 Review is to provide an individual employee with feedback about their performance from a variety of sources to try and get a complete picture of their work. It’s a talent development tool that’s designed for employees to grow. 

How Often Should You Conduct 360 Reviews?

There are no rules on how often you should conduct 360 Reviews. However, it’s helpful to do so regularly. It can be beneficial to conduct these reviews every quarter

Are 360 Reviews Anonymous?

It’s best if 360 Reviews are anonymous. Employees need honest feedback to grow, and reviewers are more likely to be honest if their name is withheld. 

Help Your Team Progres

The 360 review is an indispensable tool in employee performance improvement, taking into account feedback from multiple sources. This in-depth review process offers a unique opportunity for employees to identify their strengths and areas of improvement leading to better performance and achieving career goals.

If this process identifies employees who are struggling, this is a great opportunity to check in on their wellbeing. Poor employee performance can often be linked to wellbeing issues like emotional stress, poor nutrition, or lack of physical activity. These underlying issues can be addressed through an employee wellbeing program like Wellhub. Our flexible wellbeing platform helps the employees of more than 15,000 companies move, sleep, eat, and feel better. 

Employees actively using Wellhub are 40% less likely to leave their job and have 35% lower healthcare costs. Get in touch with a Wellhub wellbeing specialist to see how we can help your workforce thrive.

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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