360-Degree Reviews: The Easy Guide

Tanya Dutta
Published on 
Apr 27, 2023
Combining her psychology education with her research experience, Tanya has the powers to derive deep insights from data.
Wondering what a 360-degree review is and how to conduct one? This guide has everything you need to know, from the basics of feedback to best practices.

A performance review of an employee is important for their overall improvement and growth in the professional sphere. There are many different ways in which employees’ performance can be evaluated and constructive feedback can be given. One of the most efficient ways of performance evaluation is 360 reviews.

As the name suggests, 360-degree feedback refers to feedback from all quarters of your work sphere. It is a review method where feedback is taken from multiple people, including self-evaluation by the employee to provide input about their efficiency, productivity, work behavior, and overall performance. The people giving feedback mostly include the employee’s manager, manager’s manager, team members, coworkers, and customers or clients who interact with them regularly. Thus, a 360 review is also referred to as peer feedback or multi-directional feedback.

A 360-degree review gives multiple perspectives about an employee’s performance and helps the manager to give a well-rounded review and actionable feedback to the employee. This way a 360 review can act as a mentoring and development tool for employees.

Related read: 7 Best 360 Feedback Tools for Employee Development

What is 360-degree feedback?

360-degree feedback is a process whereby employees receive feedback from multiple sources. These sources can include their manager, peers, and direct reports, as well as clients. The purpose of 360-degree review is to give employees a well-rounded view of their performance and to identify areas where they may need to improve.

When done correctly, 360-degree feedback can be an invaluable tool for employees. It can help them to identify both their strengths and weaknesses and to develop a plan for improving their performance. However, 360-degree feedback can also be misused or misunderstood. In some cases, it can even lead to negative outcomes such as decreased motivation or decreased job satisfaction.

That's why it's important to understand how to use 360-degree feedback effectively. In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about 360-degree reviews, from what it is to how it can be used effectively. We'll also provide some tips on how to avoid common pitfalls.

What is the purpose of 360-degree feedback?

The purpose of 360-degree feedback is to give employees a well-rounded view of their performance. By getting feedback from multiple sources, employees can get a more complete picture of their strengths and weaknesses. This information can then be used to develop a plan for improving performance.

360-degree feedback can also be used to identify potential problems early on. For example, if an employee consistently receives negative feedback from their direct reports, that's a sign that there may be a problem with their leadership style. By identify these problems early, employees can take steps to correct them before they become bigger issues.

Finally, 360-degree reviews can be used to assess an employee's development over time. By tracking an employee's performance over multiple reviews, you can get a sense of whether they are making progress towards their goals.

360-degree feedback, when done properly, maybe a helpful tool for both employees and managers. However, it's critical to understand the risks before adopting a 360-degree feedback system at your company.

Benefits of 360-degree reviews

The advantages of 360 reviews are many for the performance management of the employees. Some of the most common ones are listed below:

  • Multiple perspectives from authentic sources: As we know, 360 reviews take into account multiple people’s viewpoints who work closely with the employee, it provides more credible, diverse, and well-rounded input. The employees receive feedback from different professionals and get a holistic idea about their performance. For example, a team member and a client share different relationships with the employee and would give feedback on different aspects.
  • Enhances accountability and teamwork: 360-degree feedback allows team members to rate their peers and give constructive criticism. This helps the team to perform well by improving communication and instilling a sense of accountability in each member. This increases employee engagement in the process.
  • Leads to the career development of employee: 360 reviews play a significant role in determining the areas of improvement of an employee. This is made possible by the constructive feedback given by reliable people. For example, a manager can determine that the employee needs help with his leadership skills and can provide training in team-leading.
  • Discovers organizational needs: 360-degree review not just helps in the employee’s professional development but also in the organizational development as a whole. It helps the managers discover weak areas within the organization. For example, there might be some policy or approach that needs adjustment to help employees perform better.

Challenges of 360-degree reviews

The 360 review is not without its challenges. Some of the cons of 360-degree reviews are as follows:

  • Effective only when the right people and the right method are involved: If the 360 reviews are not administered in the right manner or using the right people, they will not give the most reliable and helpful feedback. The results might get skewed and the whole purpose of the exercise is likely to get defeated. For example, if you only include people who share a close relationship with the employee, the feedback might be biased and prevent them from giving their honest opinion.
  • More effort is required: Yes, the 360-degree feedback is more accurate in comparison to other review processes. But, it also requires more effort than any other process. Taking feedback from a wide variety of sources is time-consuming. People are also likely to get irritated if their feedback is not incorporated or acted upon. Moreover, 360 reviews are harder to organize and coordinate since so many people are involved.

Steps to conduct 360-degree reviews

Follow the below-mentioned steps to conduct a 360 review process within your organization.

1. Decide parameters for rating

360 reviews mainly assess the soft skills of employees, such as leadership, communication, teamwork, creativity, interpersonal skills, and the like. You can select the skill sets most relevant to your organization and develop a questionnaire for people to answer. Each parameter or skill set can be rated differently according to the employee being evaluated. The ratings can be poor, satisfactory, good, very good, and excellent.

2. Choose who will assess each employee

Different people will have to be consulted for feedback for different employees. Mostly, the employee’s co-workers and supervisor are the ones participating in the process. Clients and any other company personnel who have worked closely with the employee can also participate in their performance evaluation. Choosing the right participants is important for the success of the whole exercise, so choose wisely.

3. Ask the participants to fill out the survey

Send out a questionnaire or survey to each participant by email. Also, mention the time frame within which the survey needs to be completed. The participant can be given the choice to fill out the form anonymously.

While making the survey, keep in mind that the questions intend to help the employees in their professional development.

Common questions that can be asked are:

  • What are the interpersonal skills used by the employee when working with other team members?
  • Which interpersonal skill does the employee lack?
  • Does the employee seem motivated while doing their tasks?

4. Self-evaluation by the employee

Ask the employee being evaluated to fill out the survey as well. This self-evaluation is important as it shows the level of self-awareness the employee has and their willingness to improve.

5. Fix a date and time for the 360-degree review

Send an invite to all the participants days ahead of the review so that they can be prepared for the in-person evaluation meet.

6. Evaluate the results with the employee

The results of the survey should be assessed with the employee so that they can know about their strengths and weaknesses. Praise them for their strengths and motivate them to overcome their weaknesses. Help your people set goals for overall development.

7. Follow up

Once goals have been set, regularly follow up about progress. The purpose of conducting the review will be achieved only when an employee shows progress.

360 reviews: Best Practices

Here are some best practices to be followed to perform 360 reviews successfully.

  • Use 360 reviews in conjunction with other forms of employee evaluation. For example, you can include monthly or yearly reviews of an employee to get a complete picture of how they perform their job.
  • It is important to show your full support to the employees after their reviews are complete. Never belittle people for their shortcomings. Provide resources to them for their training, learning, and coaching needs.
  • The employee has to be prepared for this assessment beforehand. To prepare your employees, the manager should give them feedback regularly and ensure that they react constructively to the criticisms. The employee should understand that this whole exercise is for their own good.
  • Define which particular skill sets are valued and what success looks like for an employee in the organization. Set quantifiable goals and develop metrics to measure performance.
  • The right software and tool can do wonders for your 360-degree review process. Such tools can help to collaborate, track and administer the reviews effectively. This is where Mesh can help! Book a product demo with us today to learn how Mesh can empower your organization to successfully conduct 360 reviews.

360 reviews FAQs

Q. Do 360 reviews have to be anonymous?

A. It does not necessarily have to be anonymous, but making it anonymous makes people more comfortable about giving the most honest feedback. 360-degree reviews should be as transparent as possible to give fair and credible results.

Q. How can the quality of the 360 review process be enhanced?

A. There are particular software applications available online for implementing a 360 review. They can help in sending surveys via email and tracking performance metrics. You can even use external consultants to administer the whole process if you are not confident enough.

Q. Are 360 reviews better than other evaluation methods?

A. 360 reviews are relatively more accurate assessments of employees. This is because feedback is solicited from a wide variety of people who work closely with the employee and know them quite well in their work capacity. It gives the manager multiple perspectives about his or her team and helps them from a well-rounded opinion about them. This way the manager can address the shortcomings of their employees and become a better manager.

Q. How frequently should 360 reviews be conducted in an organization?

A. You should conduct such reviews after periodic intervals. Conducting quarterly or yearly reviews gives the employees time to work upon the feedback received during the last review and see if the strategies followed are effective.

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About the Author
Tanya Dutta
People Science Associate
With a BA and MA in psychology - she is an organizational behavior nerd through and through. She previously worked in consumer insights, where she refined the ability to derive insights from data. Combining her passion for psychology and data, she found a sweet intersection in the People Science team at Mesh, helping organizations optimize their talent strategies while keeping people at heart. Outside work, she enjoys ticking off items from her IMDB and Yelp wishlist.
About the Author
Tanya Dutta
People Science Associate
With a BA and MA in psychology - she is an organizational behavior nerd through and through. She previously worked in consumer insights, where she refined the ability to derive insights from data. Combining her passion for psychology and data, she found a sweet intersection in the People Science team at Mesh, helping organizations optimize their talent strategies while keeping people at heart. Outside work, she enjoys ticking off items from her IMDB and Yelp wishlist.

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