Career Planning Succeeding at Work What Is a 360 Review? Definition and Examples of a 360 Review By Susan M. Heathfield Susan M. Heathfield Facebook Twitter Website Susan Heathfield is an HR and management consultant with an MS degree. She has decades of experience writing about human resources. learn about our editorial policies Updated on September 19, 2022 Fact checked by David Rubin In This Article View All In This Article What Is the 360 Review Process? How Does a 360 Review Work? Pros and Cons of a 360 Review Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: Jon Feingersh / Getty Images The 360 review is a professional feedback opportunity that enables a group of coworkers and managers to provide feedback about a fellow employee’s performance. Unlike a typical employee performance review in which an employee's work performance is evaluated by only their manager, a 360 review takes into account feedback from peers and reporting staff—even customers and other people who interact with the employee. What Is the 360 Review Process? In a 360 review, feedback about an employee's performance, skills, and contributions is solicited and then shared with the employee. Coworkers who participate in the 360 reviews usually include theemployee's manager, several peer staff members, reporting staff members, and functional managers from the organization with whom the employee works regularly. Note The term is called a "360 review" because performance feedback is solicited from all directions in the organization. The objective of the feedback is to give the employee the opportunity to understand how their work is viewed in the total organization by coworkers in any position. The 360 review tends to focus more on how the employee affected the work of other employees than on whether the work was accomplished, which is the goal of a typical performance review. In those reviews, the manager may seek additional informal, often verbal, feedback from other employees, especially managers, about the employee's performance, but that's different from a formal 360 review. Note The 360 review focuses directly on skills and the contributions that an employee makes. The goal of the feedback is to provide a balanced view to an employee of how others view their work contribution and performance in areas such as leadership, teamwork, interpersonal communication and interaction, management, contribution, work habits, accountability, and vision, depending on the employee's job. The review allows coworkers to assess the employee’s impact on furthering their goals, objective accomplishments, and positive customer results as observed by team members. Alternate names: 360 feedback, peer feedback, multi-directional feedback How Does a 360 Review Work? Organizations use a variety of methods to seek 360 feedback about employees, depending on the culture and climate of the organization. In many organizations that use 360 reviews, the manager asks for and receives the feedback. The manager then analyzes the feedback looking for patterns of behavior to note as well as positive and constructive feedback. Note The goal is to provide the employee with the key and important points without overwhelming them with too much feedback data. Often the manager has sought feedback in response to specific questions so the feedback is easier to organize and share. Some organizations use instruments that tally results electronically and give employees a score in each area assessed, while others rely on open-ended questions. Online processes make the feedback easy to tally up and share. Organizations may also hire external consultants to administer the surveys, usually when managers are receiving a 360 review. The consultants then analyze and share the data with the manager, or with the manager and staff in some cases. In the best of these circumstances, themanager and staff join together to plan improvements for both the manager and the department. Note This process is strongly recommended as the best chance of improving the overall organization as well as the performance of the individual employee. Sharing the 360 feedback received as well as goals for performance improvement can help a team unite in their efforts to help a manager achieve their performance improvement plan. In more progressive organizations that have built a climate of trust, employees provide 360 feedback directly to each other, without the manager as a filter or go-between. No matter how you collect and share the 360 feedback, you must always ensure that the feedback is as descriptive as possible so that the employee has something tangible to improve on. When sharing is open, make sure also that you solicit frequent employee feedback about how the process is working and affecting employees. Take a look at sample questions for 360 reviews for ideas about what questions will solicit solid, actionable information in a 360 review process. In any case, remember that how you introduce, monitor, and evaluate the effectiveness of the 360 review process is critical to its success or failure. Pros and Cons of a 360 Review Gathers feedback from multiple sources Improves productivity and morale Various survey methods exist Can be vague and unstructured Less effective if too few raters Can fail without follow-up or willingness to change Pros Explained Provides feedback from multiple sources. The data collected and questions can include employees, their colleagues, co-workers, and customers. As a result, a significant amount of data can be gathered to help understand how an employee or person impacts the organization and those around them. From there, steps for improvement can be developed.Leads to improvements in productivity and morale. An employee's review by a manager can be inadequate for many organizations. By conducting a 360 review, employees receive and give feedback that can help lead to positive change. The process can inspire employees to work on improving their weaknesses, making them more well-rounded and productive.Also, the process can empower workers since they have a more effective way of reviewing their colleagues and manager. A 360 review can lead to positive results and a sense of teamwork, boosting morale when implemented properly.A 360 review can be done online. The 360 review process can be instituted in several different ways. Some companies opt for an online survey to collect the data through a third party. Others use their human resources department, while other companies use a consultant. Cons Explained Can be vague and unstructured. The 360 review process can vary depending on the company or industry. Since there is no exact standard for the review, it can lead to a vague process in which the survey has little to no structure. As a result, the company might gather reams of data with little ability to create actionable steps for improvements.Too few raters. If there's not a wide range of people performing the ratings of the person, the results can be too narrow and inaccurate. For example, if the raters are friends of the rated employee, the feedback might be positive but incomplete. Conversely, if the raters don't get along with the employee or are not constructive, the results can be skewed negatively.By selecting a larger number of raters that interact with the employee at various levels—e.g., customers, colleagues, and support staff—a better understanding of the employee's strengths and weaknesses can be achieved.No follow-up to make improvements. It isn't enough to do the 360 reviews, receive feedback, and compile the data; the company must follow through to make the needed changes. The company should have an employee's manager review the findings or hire an internal or external consultant to help, particularly if the manager is the one being reviewed. Also, employees must be open and willing to cooperate and change. Key Takeaways The 360 review is a type of performance evaluation that gathers a wide range of feedback from an employee's co-workers, reporting staff, colleagues, and customers. The goal of a 360 review is to measure an employee's effectiveness and performance to help enhance employee development.The 360 review includes questions about an employee's leadership qualities, interpersonal skills, efficiency, and problem-solving ability.A 360 review's findings can inspire employees to make positive changes by improving on their weaknesses, making them more well-rounded and productive. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What should a 360 review include? The 360 review typically includes a series of questions surrounding topics such as leadership qualities, interpersonal skills, efficiency, problem-solving, and motivations. What is the purpose of a 360 evaluation? The 360 review provides employee feedback by surveying a wide range of people who interact with the employee, including managers, co-workers, reporting staff, colleagues, and customers. The goal is to gather data about the employee's effectiveness and performance that lead to employee development. Want to read more content like this? Sign up for The Balance’s newsletter for daily insights, analysis, and financial tips, all delivered straight to your inbox every morning! Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources. "360 Feedback Assessment RATER Guide," Pages 4-6. American Psychological Association. "Do 360 Evaluations Work?" Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources. "360 Feedback Assessment RATER Guide," Pages 6-12.