360-degree feedback surveys (sometimes called multi-rater feedback surveys) are widely used by organisations to evaluate the skills and competencies of employees.  In addition to the views of their line manager the surveys collect the perspectives from the employees’ peers, direct reports, and sometimes even from customers or other stakeholders affected by their performance. 

360-degree feedback surveys are frequently used as part of annual appraisals, in identifying talent for talent pools, for promotions and for the redeployment of staff at times of organisational expansion or reorganisation. 

An organisation can approach the use of 360-degree surveys via two main routes: either using a standardised survey that measures basic businesses competencies – a one-size-fits-all solution, or with the use of customised surveys that are tuned to the requirements of the organisation/specific roles.  

There are merits in both approaches. A standardised, or off-the-shelf survey, can work well as an introduction to 360-degree surveys. The lower costs of an off-the-shelf survey might allow this to be used across the organisation to survey the skills and competencies and training needs of all employees. 

Customised 360-degree surveys can be designed for specific job roles. The questions asked for a manager can be different from those asked for a team member, or for employees in a more specialised role. Customised surveys by their very nature feel more “real” and more closely related to the skills and competencies needed to do a specific job. Additionally, for organisations with established HR policies, the customised surveys can be closely linked to the organisation’s competency framework and other HR processes. 

ODRL has recently implemented a practical and customised 360-degree feedback process for various levels and departments of a large international organisation. The aim of the exercise was to enhance self-awareness of strengths and areas for development of staff at the individual level, to build and sustain a culture of trust and openness, and to strengthen performance and accountability across the organisation. The process took into account the demands of external stakeholders, the ongoing transformational and culture change programme and the competency framework of the organisation. Three sets of surveys were designed to reflect leadership, managerial and team member roles. Prior to launching the survey, communication messages were developed and disseminated at various stages of the process. To enable staff to provide meaningful feedback a bespoke training video was developed to cover the key principles of giving and receiving energising and constructive feedback.  

Customised 360-Degree Surveys – Choosing a Supplier 

In choosing a supplier here are some questions you might want to consider: 

  • What is the cost per survey? (Is the pricing model easy to understand?) 
  • What is the cost for customising the survey to the needs of the organisation? 
  • What help do I get in identifying the questions that need asking? 
  • What is the process for the respondents to answer questions about participants? 
  • How easy is each survey to complete? How long should each survey take? 
  • What support do I get /my staff get – if they have any problems in completing the surveys? 
  • What reports do I get from the results of the survey? 
  • Will the reports make sense to me? Do they have clear insights? 
  • Can I get any help in understanding the results and how to make use of this data? 
  • Do the reports clearly help me plan a course of action? 

ODRL has been in the business of designing and managing Customer 360-degree surveys for almost two decades. We’d be delighted to answer those questions, and any other that you may have, about using 360-degree surveys in your organisation. Please contact Dr. Kay Sahdev (ks@ordrl.org).