Infinite Potential

360 Feedback Surveys Part 1: How They Can Be Helpful?

July 13th, 2017

Today’s blog will consider the ways that using 360 feedback surveys within your organization might be helpful.

You may have heard some of the negative press about 360 feedback surveys and their use. However, if given the opportunity I am sure that I can bring some clarity and sanity to this topic. Research has some much needed light to shed on the topic, and real world professional experience in organizations can add even more perspective.

The Research

Between 1990 and 2005 there were “well over 100 scholarly and practitioner-oriented articles” published about 360 feedback (Morgeson, Mumford & Campion, 2005, p. 196). Morgeson, et al (2005) draw upon the evidence to make a number of claims, here are a few very simple, but compelling points:

“Upward feedback CAN improve performance, especially for those with initially low levels of performance.” (p. 199)

“Improvement in subordinate ratings was greater for managers who discussed the previous year’s feedback with subordinates. (p.199)”

There is solid evidence that 360 feedback can be helpful to leaders, especially if they share their learning with others and even explicitly ask others to hold them accountable for the changes that they are trying to make. Getting others involved creates a level of accountability to one’s feedback results that can lead to meaningful and lasting behavioral change. I experience this on a regular basis where I help leaders debrief their 360 feedback and utilize it to create development goals for themselves in their leadership journey. This personal experience is also compelling.

Professional Experience

I have witnessed countless leaders who have benefited from their 360 feedback. While it is not uncommon for people to have some apprehension about receiving feedback, in my experience it is an overwhelmingly constructive and positive experience.

Consider a brilliant information systems professional who is highly respected but occasionally has been labeled difficult to work with. This person received feedback about how they engaged stakeholders. Using the 360 feedback, they learned how to engage stakeholders in a way that enlisted them and helped them feel more valued as a contributor on projects. As a result, there was an almost immediate report of improved relationships and a difference that key stakeholders could see. This led to a rapid regaining of trust where it had been lost and deepening of trust in other areas. As a result, huge dividends resulted in his department working more closely and effectively with other parts of the organization.

Another scenario to consider is a leader in higher education who thought they were accessible to those he led. Their 360 results indicated otherwise. This was a surprise result in their feedback, but it lead to a deeper self-examination, reaching out to others to sincerely seek how he could better engage with others, and a more proactive stance toward maintaining and deepening his work relationships.

Self Deception

Notice how both of these people weren’t fully aware of their impact on others till they received their 360 feedback. And then they were able to adjust their actions towards others and have a deeper impact through their leadership. Both of these individuals were open to the experience and were able to gain meaningful and actionable insight through their feedback from others.

How Can 360’s Benefit You and Your Organization?

With my deep expertise in the application of 360 methods (BIO), including creating custom 360 surveys for you and your organization, it might be worth your while to take advantage of a free initial consultation with me. We will discuss the goals for yourself and your organization and determine how a 360 survey might be an important, strategic tool within your organization. If you have researched startup costs for a 360 initiative, you will be pleasantly surprised by my low startup and program costs.

In the next installment of this series we will discuss how 360 methods can help reinforce values and associated behaviors in your organization, and help shape the culture of your organization toward an ideal future state.


Morgeson, F. P., Mumford, T. V. & Campion, M. A. (2005) Coming Full Circle: Using Research and Practice to Address 27 Questions About 360-Degree Feedback Programs. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, Vol. 57, No. 3, 196–209