Does 360 feedback really help to Improve performance?

July 18th, 2013 by Sarah Green Leave a reply »

Does 360 feedback really support performance development and improvement? Within Zircon, we design and implement qualitative (interview based) and quantitative (survey based) feedback for clients and find that when the 360 respondent is engaged and committed to the feedback, the process can produce significant results.

According to Munro (2012) this is not however always the case. For example, Kluger and DeNisi (1996) found that in one-third of the studies reviewed 360 actually caused a decrease in performance. Although 360 feedback is important and can be effective; its design, application, feedback and interpretation needs to be improved. Munro (2012) therefore outlines five areas where 360 feedback can improve to realise the potential gains for personal change and organisational improvement:

1. Know what 360 feedback can and can’t do – A badly designed model and feedback tool means confusing results
2. Don’t assume that everyone knows everything – Select a variety of rates who can give feedback on the whole range of behaviours
3. Look through the eyes of the individual giving feedback – write questionnaire content which asks what impact the assessed individual is having on the individual giving feedback. It should also ask about the personal experience of those who will be asked to provide feedback
4. Less is more – The most frequent complaint is that 360 surveys ‘take too long to complete’ (Nowack, 2005). This results in respondent fatigue which produces poor quality of feedback. The challenge, is to provide a feedback process with powerful questions, which generate meaningful answers.
5. Evaluate the impact – What positive differences can you see? In terms of personal effectiveness for the individual, for the organisation?


In many instances 360 feedback is positive, however, it often fails to optimise the potential gains that trigger the kind of change and improvement that result in higher levels of organisational performance. At Zircon we are committed to improving 360 feedback. We work hard on generating meaningful questionnaires which will effectively and meaningfully assess people’s performance. Through the development of bespoke tools, we aim to decrease issues with respondent fatigue and improve quality. We are constantly reviewing our tools to ensure that they still provide impactful value.

Source: Munro, A. (2012). Why 360 feedback needs a taste of its own medicine. Assessment & development Matters, 4(4), 5-7.
Written by Will Thomas and Katie Bissell. January 2013

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