360 Degree Surveys: Making multi-rater feedback work for your business

Posted: July 01, 2020

articles By Belinda Kovachi

Obtaining multi-rater feedback or conducting 360 degree surveys can provide powerful insights into individual behaviour and competence from multiple perspectives. The benefits are as broad as the perspectives gained, ranging from improved self-insight for the subjects, more focused organisational development programs and “rich picture” performance evaluations.

What is 360 degree feedback?

In its purest form, 360 degree feedback is gathered by asking various groups of people to answer a set of questions about the behaviour of an individual. Typically, the respondents would represent the full spectrum (360 degrees) of work-related interactions for that individual – ie. Their manager, their colleagues, subordinates, customers, and themselves. The purpose of the survey is to provide self-insight and understanding into how behaviour is viewed from different perspectives. Multi-rater assessments are very similar and would include less rater groups – possibly not polling customers.

What is the purpose of 360 degree feedback?

360 degree feedback is used to inform many people-management and development processes.

  • Performance reviews – getting broad feedback is especially helpful when evaluating people managers, as well as employees who have worked on multiple projects.
  • Management development – 360 surveys are used to build a rich picture of leadership competence, EQ or values-based behaviour.
  • Customer service – obtaining customer feedback for frontline staff assists companies to develop customer service learning programs and brand alignment sessions.
  • Organisational development – an objective view of how leaders are perceived from different parts of the organisation informs company-wide values and culture interventions
  • Personal development – obtaining multi-rater feedback creates individual insight into how others perceive their actions and attitudes, allowing for deeper personal change.

Benefits of using 360 degree feedback

360 degree surveys have individual and organisational benefits. In most cases, the recipients of this feedback become more self-aware, are able to adjust negative behaviour and are more committed to self-development. At an organisational level, learning and development programs are more effective when based on the insights gained though multi-rater feedback. Performance reviews that make use of multi-rater feedback are perceived to be more equitable and objective based on the breadth of input received for individuals.

Double-edged sword

360 degree surveys, when executed well are an essential management tool, and can build engagement and a positive employee experience. When executed poorly, they can have a very detrimental effect on relationships, motivation, productivity, and performance. The most common objection to 360 degree surveys is the perceived high administrative burden it imposes on raters and administrators.

When deciding to use multi-rater feedback, companies should be very clear on the following:

  • What processes will the feedback inform? Generally, 360 degree feedback is most useful when used to inform development processes.
  • What questions do we want to ask? Questions work best when they are about observable behaviour rather than subjective opinions.
  • How will we share results? For individuals, giving and receiving feedback can be difficult and uncomfortable. Companies need to be cognisant of the effect of this process on both the rater and subject.
  • How to distribute questionnaires, track completion and report results? 360 degree surveys can be time-consuming and cumbersome to administrate. Your survey distribution and reporting method should be accessible, quick to complete, and should deliver clear, accurate and confidential reports.

Pro 360 by Pure Survey

Pure Survey is a leading employee research provider, partnering with some of South Africa’s most influential and inspiring brands to develop solutions that inspire and engage their people. Pro 360 is a mobile enabled 360 degree survey tool that can be customised for a variety of applications. Pro 360 delivers a seamless distribution process, quick completion, and accurate, simple reporting. Pro 360 minimises the hassle associated with 360 surveys and ensures a beneficial and positive result. Speak to us about how we can enable your next 360 Survey.