360-degree feedback has become a key component of employee development used by organizations large and small. Increasingly, it is deployed across various HR processes such as performance appraisal, promotions and as a developmental tool for career progression. Further, it is frequently used to identify and segregate talent in the context of succession planning, and for supporting culture change programmes.  

 ODRL is currently managing a 360-degree process for a large global client. This process has been designed with the aim of supporting culture change within the organization by building, and helping to sustain, a culture of openness, collaboration, and accountability. The intention is to provide individuals with an opportunity for self-development through feedback, debriefing, and coaching.  

 This note looks at advantages and potential pitfalls of using 360-degree feedback to support performance management.  

 The Advantages of Using 360-Degree Feedback for Performance Management

  • The use of multiple sources of feedback data helps to enhance the objectivity of performance evaluations and reduces the risk of bias when feedback comes only from a line-manager 
  • The survey captures information based on everyday observations of behaviors from multiple people who interact with the employee 
  • The process helps to develop a culture of openness and accountability (what gets measured, gets done) especially when 360-degree feedback is open to all staff 
  • Data from the 360-degree feedback surveys help to reinforce the link between the competencies, behaviours and values needed for effective performance in a job 
  • The 360-degree exercise is purposeful – not just a ‘nice to have’ with no strings attached. Any development issues discovered can help motivate individuals to change and improve. 


Challenges in Using 360-Degree Feedback for Performance Management 

 The employees surveyed need the skills and ability to give constructive and meaningful feedback.  

  • The number of respondents available to give feedback may vary – hence it can be harder to compare results between individuals. When there are low completion rates, categories of respondents tend to be merged (e.g., reports from peers may be merged with direct reports) to retain individual privacy. In this case it may not be possible to identify the perspectives of a specific respondent group 
  • Direct reports (and others) may be apprehensive in giving honest feedback for fear of retaliation from their managers and this may create a culture of mistrust. 


ODRL has been in the business of designing and managing Customer 360-degree feedback surveys for almost two decades. We would be delighted to any questions about using 360-degree feedback surveys in your organisation. Please contact Dr. Kay Sahdev (ks@ordrl.org).