360 Feedback: Do I ask the same questions? Different? Both? Help?

The concept of 360 feedback in a work environment is hotly debated. Its value is questioned, the “hows” and the “whys” are often contentious. But as Bill Gates said at his 2013 Ted talk:

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

Who better to understand leadership qualities than those who are led? Who better to give insight on company culture fit than the people working in the reviewee’s department? Who better to judge an employee’s customer service than the customers they serve?

Just as every 360 program needs an objective, so does each person providing that feedback. Focus on driving home the fact that their opinion matters, they have something valuable: they have their experience. And their objective is to inform us on their experience of the reviewee, and how that can point to development for the reviewee.

Some of their observations maybe be around the fit of the reviewee in the office. Questions like:

  • Is the employee a good fit for our company culture?
  • Does this employee handle stress well?

Other observations reflect on things like:

  • Is this employee a great team player?
  • Is this employee good at conflict resolution?

Certainly, you need to adapt the questions and the process to your organization, and the objectives of the survey itself to your culture, but keep in mind, as SHRM wisely points out,

“360s are most effective when they are used as a development tool, not a rating tool.”

Remember to focus on the reviewer’s relationship, and ask them to suggest ways for the reviewee to develop those skills. After all, everyone wants to improve and wants their workplace to improve, and setting proper expectations will help you get to your goal with less setbacks and great morale.