Applauz Blog

How to Conduct a 360 Performance Review

Published: February 26, 2024

  8 min read

By: Anouare Abdou

How to Conduct a 360 Performance Review

The traditional performance review is outdated. Embrace the 360 performance review instead – here’s what it is and how to conduct one.  

Companies like Accenture, Deloitte, Microsoft and Netflix have ditched annual reviews. Not only do most employees find performance reviews ineffective, but they also don’t feel like they help them do their best work.

A CEB study revealed that a staggering 95% of employees were dissatisfied with their organization’s appraisal process. And only 2 in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work, according to Gallup.

That’s because annual appraisals can feel forced. They often don’t paint an accurate picture of an employee’s performance and skimp on career development opportunities. They can also be heavily influenced by a manager’s personal biases. Finally, they don’t take into account peer feedback – a missed opportunity when it comes to gathering insights that will help an employee develop their strengths.

Enter the 360 performance review, a performance management process that allows employees to get feedback from a variety of sources, as well as evaluate themselves. 

employees-going-through-survey-papersWhat Is a 360 Performance Review? 

A 360 performance review – which is sometimes also referred to as 360 feedback or multi-directional feedback – involves soliciting feedback about an employee’s contributions and skills from different people at different levels of the organization.

Beyond an employee’s manager, this includes peers, reporting staff, and other managers – typically a range of 6 to 12 people for best results. It’s important to note that the feedback is anonymous. The process usually also involves a self-evaluation.

Some organizations use fancy tech platforms to gather and organize feedback throughout the year. Others conduct 360 reviews with simple online forms. In most cases, the employee’s manager gathers the feedback and shares it in a one-on-one meeting.

The biggest difference between a 360 review versus a traditional performance review is that instead of managers providing top-down feedback, the employee gets to receive feedback from a variety of coworkers.

Also, while traditional reviews are more focused on evaluating whether an employee has done their job well, multi-directional feedback is more focused on the impact that the employee has on the people they work with. Ultimately, the goal is to empower the employee with information that will facilitate their professional development.

Everything you need to know about employee recognition Read Guide

applause-celebration-business-woman-with-good-news-achievement-job-promotion-office-happy-wow-professional-employee-from-mexico-with-success-celebrating-with-support-from-teamBenefits of 360 Performance Reviews

From enhanced objectivity to better performance, there are several benefits to embracing 360 performance reviews.

Peer Feedback Boosts Performance

One of the biggest benefits of 360 performance reviews is the inclusion of peer feedback. Research conducted by Gartner showed that peer feedback can boost employee performance by as much as 14%.

“As work becomes more interdependent and managers have less direct visibility into the day-to-day of their teams, high-quality peer input has become an essential part of effective performance feedback,”
- Jessica Knight, Research Director at Gartner

An employee recognition platform like Applauz can help you foster peer feedback on a regular basis as a first step towards 360 reviews.

360 Reviews Are More Objective

Getting input from multiple sources also paints a more comprehensive picture of an employee’s performance. This has multiple benefits. One of the most salient ones is that it allows managers to evaluate how an employee is doing in a more objective way.

Managers just don’t have that much visibility into what’s going on – and they don’t experience the full impact of an employee’s contributions on a day-in-day-out basis. This is especially true when it comes to remote and hybrid workers.

A 360 performance review provides a more accurate way to assess performance, which then enables managers to offer personalized training opportunities and career advancement options to their reports.

Multi-Directional Feedback Fosters Self-Improvement

Additionally, this type of feedback process helps employees learn and improve. It fosters self-awareness and brings blind spots to light. It emphasizes both strengths and areas of improvement. Simply put, it’s more constructive.

When you only get feedback from your boss, you’re reliant on their ability to assess you properly and convey helpful insights. If their skills are lacking on that front, you’re left scratching your head.

On the other hand, if multiple people point out something specific, like the fact that you excel at making people feel safe in your presence, you can take this insight and use it to develop yourself further. Perhaps it’s a strength you never even considered before because it comes so naturally, but now you're going to lean into it.

360 Performance Reviews Combat Workplace Biases

Have you heard of the recency bias? It’s a cognitive phenomenon that has people putting more weight on recent events and information. When it comes to a performance review, this can look like evaluating an employee favorably or negatively based on their latest project instead of considering their overall performance throughout the year.

Other workplace biases involve internalized notions about race, gender, and age. With a 360 review, there are still possible individual biases involved, but their impact is reduced by the fact you’re soliciting diverse perspectives.

360 Reviews Benefit Teams

Conducting 360 performance reviews sends a powerful message: Feedback matters here, and we’re all responsible for it. This encourages team members to support each other in their growth and opens the lines of communication. As a result, collaboration thrives and employee engagement goes up.

product-service-review-ideas-from-customers-writing-reviews-from-customers-who-use-products-services-store-express-their-satisfaction-increase-credibility-storeTips to Conduct a 360 Performance Review

Ready to conduct 360 performance reviews with your team? Here are some tips to do it successfully. 

  1. Explain the Process and Goals

    Start with walking your team through the process and goals. Make sure everyone understands the purpose of the feedback exercise: Supporting professional development and team performance. And, of course, explain how the feedback will be used, as this will add context in clarity into why these are so important, and some guidance on what to focus on.

  2. Choose the Right Participants

    Choosing the right participants is key. According to Gartner, possible sources should include four types of coworkers:

    • Enablers who have similar skills as the person evaluated and work on the same projects;
    • Coaches who have similar skills as the employee but don’t work on the same projects;
    • Collaborators who work on the same projects but have different skills;
    • And mentors who work on different projects and have different skills.
  3. Ensure Anonymity 

    People will be more likely to share honest feedback if they know that the information provided will remain confidential and anonymous. Ensuring anonymity is, therefore, key – and you want to make sure the tools that you use to conduct the process can guarantee it.

  4. Provide Guidance On Giving Feedback

    Good feedback should be specific and include several examples. From providing guidelines to hosting workshops with a consultant, and offering training and guidance to help employees master the art of giving helpful feedback.

  5. Use a Structure to Evaluate People

    Consistency in the type of feedback across participants matters. Standardizing the process through a specific set of questions that cover relevant competencies, skills, and behaviors should do the trick. It’s OK to have a couple of different templates based on the type of position involved.

  6. Emphasize Growth and Development

    Frame the feedback as an opportunity for growth and development and encourage people to notice and leverage their strengths through the 360 review process. Coworkers will feel more comfortable giving each other feedback – and receiving feedback from each other – when they know that the information will be used in positive ways instead of criticism.

  7. Schedule Feedback Sessions

    Organize feedback sessions where employees can have a platform to discuss the feedback that they received with their manager. Consider hiring a trained facilitator who can help team members maximize the information received and gain deeper insights into their strengths and areas of improvement.

  8. Offer Support and Follow-Up

    Use the feedback to devise professional development plans and offer support. Then, follow up regularly to track employees’ progress and address any challenges they may face.

portrait-contemporary-bearded-man-smiling-colleague-partner-while-collaborating-during-business-meeting-green-office-interior-copy-space360 Performance Review Best Practices

Beyond the tips above, there are a few universal best practices to keep in mind for the best results.

  1. Establish Trust

    A 360 review process requires a lot of trust – and you can build trust with your team by communicating clearly and transparently. Reiterate the purpose of the exercise and set clear expectations. Keep things fair and standardized.

    Finally, address any concerns about anonymity and confidentiality and be available to answer questions and provide guidance.

  2. Ask the Right Questions

    Asking the right questions is paramount if you want to garner helpful feedback. Gather input from various stakeholders to determine which parameters to base the questions around. Cover different skill categories, from leadership skills to adaptability.

    When creating feedback forms, consider different seniority levels and types of positions – people in technical roles, like software developers, may benefit from a specific set of questions.

  3. Balance Positivity and Constructive Feedback

    Acknowledging and celebrating strengths is one of the most important aspects of a successful 360 performance review. This will help employees develop their strengths further. But it’s also important to point out areas of improvement. Balance positivity and constructive feedback with the aim of equipping employees with insights that will help them grow and improve.

  4. Turn Insights Into Action

    The whole point of soliciting this comprehensive feedback is to use it. Make sure that you leverage the information gathered in an actionable way. For example, use what you learn to offer an employee the opportunity to upskill.

  5. Document Results and Actions

    Documenting the results of your 360 review and the actions that derive from it is another best practice to keep in mind. This will help set goals, track progress and remain accountable.

  6. Evaluate and Optimize

    You’ll probably have to go through a couple of iterations of your 360 review process before nailing it down. Run an employee survey to get feedback about the process (yes, get feedback about the feedback!). Optimize your approach accordingly.

african-businessman-talking-young-businesswoman-table-during-meeting-office360 Feedback Questions: What to Ask

Since the right questions can make or break a 360 performance review, here are a few examples of great questions to ask.

  1. What would you say are this person’s biggest strengths?
  2. Share an example of an interaction that impacted you in a positive way.
  3. What is one thing you’d like to see this employee improve?
  4. How efficient would you say this person is when it comes to managing their time and workload?
  5. Would you say that this person focuses on the right priorities? Why or why not?
  6. What is the most unique contribution that this employee brings to the team?
  7. What should this employee start doing?
  8. What should this employee continue doing?
  9. What should this employee stop doing?
  10. How would you describe this person’s collaboration style?
  11. How can this person make improvements to support you in your own role?
  12. How would you describe this person’s problem-solving abilities?
  13. How effective is this person when it comes to communicating?


When asking reports to evaluate a manager, draw inspiration from the questions below:

  1. How effective is your manager at delegating tasks?
  2. Does your manager make priorities clear?
  3. Do you feel your manager listens to you?
  4. How supported do you feel by your manager?
  5. Do you feel that you get enough feedback?
  6. How does your manager recognize accomplishments?
  7. Do you feel that your manager provides clear expectations?
  8. What is your manager’s biggest strength?
  9. What would you like to see your manager improve?
  10. How would you describe your manager’s leadership style?

people-working-as-team-companyAre 360 Performance Reviews Right for Your Team?

If you’re wondering whether adopting a 360 review process is the right move for your team, keep in mind that multi-directional feedback can work in a variety of settings and companies of different sizes. Ultimately, this type of approach is most effective in organizations that value feedback because it does require a time and effort investment.

Regardless of whether a 360 performance review is right for you, peer-to-peer and 360 feedback (and recognition) is always a good thing--having a positive impact on both employee engagement and performance. Build a feedback-friendly culture (and ideally use employee recognition software) to reap the enduring rewards of feedback and communication in your organization.

Download Cheat Sheet

Conducting a 360 Performance Review-FAQ

What are 360-degree Reviews?

How do Open-Ended Questions benefit 360-Degree Feedback?

Incorporating Open-Ended Questions into the 360-Degree Feedback process allows respondents to provide more detailed and nuanced insights into an employee's performance. This qualitative feedback can highlight specific strengths and areas for improvement that a simple rating scale might not capture, offering richer, more personalized feedback.

What is Upward Feedback and why is it important?

Upward Feedback is a crucial component of the 360-Degree Feedback process, where subordinates evaluate their manager's performance. It promotes a culture of openness, mutual respect, and continuous improvement by providing managers with insight into how their leadership style and decisions impact their team's morale and productivity.

How does the Rating Scale work in 360-Degree Reviews?

A Rating Scale in 360-Degree Reviews is used to quantify aspects of an employee's performance, typically ranging from poor to excellent. This scale helps standardize feedback, making it easier to identify trends and compare performance across different team members or review periods.

Why is Anonymous Feedback important in a 360-Degree Feedback process?

Anonymous Feedback is vital for ensuring honest and constructive feedback. Knowing their responses are confidential, respondents are more likely to provide candid assessments of their colleagues' performance, strengths, and areas for improvement without fear of repercussions.

What makes feedback actionable in the context of 360-Degree Reviews?

Feedback is considered actionable when it is specific, measurable, and tied to concrete recommendations for improvement or development. Actionable Feedback in 360-Degree Reviews helps individuals understand exactly what they need to do to enhance their performance, interpersonal skills, or leadership abilities.

What are the steps involved in the 360-Degree Feedback Process?

The 360-Degree Feedback Process typically involves several key steps: defining the purpose and goals of the review, selecting participants, designing the feedback tool (including questions and rating scales), collecting and analyzing the feedback, and finally, delivering the feedback to the employee in a constructive manner.

How can organizations ensure the effectiveness of the 360-Degree Feedback process?

To ensure the effectiveness of the 360-Degree Feedback process, organizations should clearly communicate the purpose and confidentiality of the process, provide training on how to give and receive feedback constructively, and follow up on the feedback with actionable development plans and support for personal growth.


Category Tags

A Happier Workplace


Subscribe and join our community of curious HR Professionals and Managers.