Blog Post

360 Feedback Programs in Organizations 2017

By: Marcie Levine
Published: 11/10/2017

Each year SurveyConnect collects and reports out on data that we hope is useful to our clients and friends. In 2017, as in previous years, we decided to focus our questions on the 360 process – how many employees are asked to participate and why, as well as what happens with the data once it is collected. In this way, we can understand the objectives and uses of the 360-degree feedback process at this point in time, and see how answers have changed over past years.  102 people responded to the questionnaire this year.


Section I: The Individual 360 Process

         When asked “What is the primary purpose of your 360 program?” most respondents said that they consider the 360 program a development tool:


         360s are split between voluntary (36%), required (14%), and a combination of purposes (50%).

         When asked “How often does 360-degree feedback get delivered in the following ways,” the responses showed


         Formal Action Planning:

o   Participants are generally asked to complete a Formal Action Plan - only 13% of respondents in 2017 said that participants are not asked to complete a plan.

o   Action Plans have varied effectiveness, with 9% saying that they are Highly Effective, and 4% saying they were Not Effective or Rarely Effective.  57% said that the plans are Usually Effective or Highly Effective, and 40% Sometimes Effective.

o   Comments from open-ended questions suggest:

§  Formal action plans are most effective if there is motivation from the participant and follow-up from both the participant and their manager

§  Accountability is key

Section II: 360s from an Organizational Point of View

         360 program feedback feeds into other HR organizational programs (succession-planning, mentoring and/or talent management) in about 60% of respondent organizations.

         Demographic or aggregate data is only used in about 34% of the organizations.

         Sample comments from open-ended questions include:

o   I think the supervisors struggle with holding the employee accountable for the action plan.

o   I believe they are effective because of the 360 factor... more than just the immediate supervisors opinion of the employee’s performance. We use action (or what we refer to as 'start, stop, continue') plans in many of our training and development programs. They are effective in that you have given participants tools to use and they develop a plan of action with their coach to use the tools in some way. The action plan also serves the purpose of solidifying the learning before the participant leaves the room.

o   Once discussed with feedback and put in writing there is more accountability. Success rate increases with written commitments.

o   They are effective when/if the employee sees value in 360 feedback process and sees 360 as developmental tool and makes action planning a priority. In addition, the plans are successful when focused on 1-2 key areas. The plans are less effective when the individual attempts to take on too much.

o   They are effective when we connect them to the job and involve the direct supervisor.


Section III: 360s Going Forward

         The number of participants going through a 360 process is anticipated to grow about 20% from 2016 to 2017, and then stay flat from 2017 to 2018.  This growth from 2016 to 2017 is larger than normal, but no anticipated growth from 2017 to 2018 is somewhat of a surprise (we’ve always seen growth year-on-year, so it will be interesting to see what the data shows next year!).


         Organizations deploy 360s as a valuable tool for in-house analysis to understand current performance in important organizational competencies.  They are also used to help participants increase strengths as well as improve performance in appropriate areas. The primary use of 360-degree feedback programs is for development purposes, and most organizations either request or require a Formal Action Plan.  These Action Plans are most effective if there is motivation from the participant and follow-up from the participant, their manager, and the organization.

         360-degree program feedback is used in other HR organizational programs such as succession-planning, mentoring and/or talent management in a predominance of respondent organizations.  While the 360-degree program strategy fits into the overall performance management of the organization on an individual level, there is more room for the analysis and use of 360-degree demographic data and trends to understand organizational issues, strengths, and gaps.

         When asked how 360s need to evolve to adapt to the changing work environment, the top three responses were:

o   Employees at all levels should receive this type of feedback,

o   Shorter assessments on a more frequent basis need to be implemented, and

o   Have employees drive the process themselves.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to talk about 360s or other employee surveys, please contact me at:

Marcie Levine


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