360 Feedback


Are you considering 360 feedback to develop the leaders in your organisation?

Or perhaps you are a leader who is going through the process?

In this article I will explore what 360 feedback is, why and when to use it, and some things to watch out for.

What is 360 feedback?

The term 360 degree was coined as the feedback is gathered from various points of view -typically self-assessment, direct reports, peers and your boss. Sometimes feedback is also sought from external sources – your customers or suppliers. The idea is that the feedback is richer because it comes from a number of different viewpoints, together building up a more comprehensive picture of how you are perceived by the world.

There are numerous assessment tools available, some can be customised to a particular organisation or profession, and some are more generic.

What is 360 feedback used for?

You can use 360 feedback to review employees, however there are risks involved: are the raters in a position to accurately review an employee’s performance? Could one or two ratings or comments be taken out of context?

I believe 360 feedback is best used as a development tool, particularly for leadership development. The context should be seen primarily as an opportunity to examine your own and other’s perceptions of your behaviour.

So when you have a 360 review, what should you expect? Once all your raters have completed their reviews, I will get your report and make a time to debrief you. I will start by exploring your self-assessment on each of the elements. This can be illuminating, for example if you have marked yourself very high on results and lower on relationships, how does this play out in the workplace (and at home)!

Next I will help you review the raters’ assessments of you, particularly different rater types. For example if your direct reports see you as having good work-life balance balance but your boss doesn’t, what does that tell you about how you show up in different situations? And maybe what does it tell you about the raters themselves and their own filters and prejudices?

For this reason, I spend more than one session on debriefing the assessement tool before moving on to action planning. It takes time to make sense of all the data, and to decide which areas are useful to focus on.

How to use the feedback information

I look at the context of the organisation and industry when helping you decide where you need to focus. For example I recently debriefed an assessment where the person came out very strongly on results, decisions, and autocratic. They had recently taken over a part of the organisation that was failing, and if it didn’t perform it would be closed down, so no wonder their focus was on results. By sensitively debriefing the profile, I was able to get them to see how as their department moved from crisis mode into performing, they could develop and broaden their style. By developing their skills in teamwork, mentoring and caring they will engage the hearts and minds of their employees which will bring better results in the longer term.

Feedback in their own words

The comments section is always a touchy area in any 360 assessment. For this reason it’s important to have a section for positive comments, as well as negative or developmental comments. Most people will head straight for the negative comments section, and these can be wounding and sometimes debilitating. There is usually a truth in the comments, but at times they can be worded insensitively or even deliberately hurtful. It’s important to remember that this is just one person’s view at a particular point in time, and to take it for what it is. A good coach/facilitator will enable the client to see the whole picture and not dwell on the negative. But at the same time its important not to dismiss the feedback if there are areas that can be worked on.

Changing behaviour

Inevitably a behaviour change comes down to mindfulness and choice. We have all experienced our buttons getting pushed, and our response to a stimulus being automatic. For many it may be when they feel criticised – they may become more defensive or even go on the attack.

Or it may be that the fear of getting it wrong provokes the response of double and triple checking, and working longer and harder. We are often surprised that other people have noticed our frailties when we feel that we have hidden our flaws well, sometimes even to ourselves. When we understand how other people view our outward behaviour and the impact it is having, we can make a choice to pause and choose a different, more useful response.  

Which 360 instrument to use

There are many 360 feedback instruments on the market, and its important to take time to look at what they offer. My preferred 360 is The Leadership Circle. This has been developed to measure conscious creative leadership competencies such as Integrity, Courage and Teamwork, whilst identifying reactive automatic tendencies such as Complying, Controlling and Protecting. The profile has been developed based on a deep understanding of human development, and recognising that the external environment is changing. 

As the world arounds us changes at an unprecedented rate, developing creative leadership competencies will equip leaders to lead in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) environment.

360 feedback is only part of the picture

When looking at any 360 assessment it’s important to see it as part of a holistic leadership development. I work with organisations on their “future-proofing” – how their leadership, strategy and culture needs to change with the changing external environment. I also work on their employee engagement based on the acronym MAGIC – Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact and Connection.

By equipping leaders with the creative competencies they need, and helping them develop the environment where employees are engaged and productive, the organisation has the best chance of success.


I work primarily with organisations that provide valuable services to the community. I would love to have a discussion with you about how I can help develop the leaders in your organisation.

Let’s catch up,



Indigo Shift  

0420 507 008