You can hardly open a business or HR publication without finding an article on 360° Feedback. There are numerous seminars and conferences on the topic. Moreover, a number of excellent books on the subject have been published recently. At a recent gathering of HR professionals (from mid-size and large organizations) over 60% indicated that they were using or preparing to use 360° Feedback.

Unquestionably 360° Feedback is a hot topic but is it a fad, destined to go the way of so many other management techniques? Unfortunately, for many companies it will indeed prove to be a short-lived fad. However, this is not because of any flaw in the concept. The term 360 Degree Feedback is relatively new but upward appraisals and multi-rater assessments have been around at some enlightened companies since the 60’s.

The reason that so many companies now coming on board will not reap the benefits of a very valuable tool is that they will not take the time to implement the process properly. Below are a few tips to help make your 360 Degree Feedback survey successful.

1. Decide how you want to use the process. Will a standard set of questions be used for everyone (or everyone at the same level) or will each manager create his/her own custom survey? We favor the latter but both are valid approaches. Will the results be seen by the managers’ bosses or will only the manager see the feedback (our preference)? Will all managers have to take part or will the process be voluntary? How will action plans be developed following the process and by whom? These are only a few of the issues which must be thought out and addressed.

2. Whatever process you decide upon, top management must be firmly committed to the procedure before you start and they must promote it actively.

3. The process must be marketed and sold to management. For obvious reasons, it will be viewed as threatening but fears can be overcome, especially if you choose a process where the results are only seen by the managers and maybe an HR or outside consultant. Second best is to ensure managers that the results, if they will be seen by the managers’ bosses, will NOT be a factor in the managers’ performance appraisals. Even in the case where the results will influence performance appraisals there are ways to reduce the understandable anxiety on the part of management.

4. Educate managers and raters on how to use the process properly.

5. Start small with a pilot project and modify your process if necessary. When the process is working well, use success stories to sell the project to the rest of the company.

For more information, or to discuss specific issues call Dr. Steinberg at (888) 725-9392. There is no charge and we are happy to help.


There are several software products which can help you implement a 360 Degree Feedback survey. Most are absurdly overpriced. They usually cost $20,000 and up. The exception is our ownSurvey Tools for Windows which is very affordable (starts at $395) and has many features that our competitors lack.

A few features of Survey Tools for Windows which are NOT usually found in competing products (regardless of price) are:

  • Ability to get scores for individual questions as well as summary scores by topic (competency). In other words you can find out, not only if a manager is a good leader, but also in what ways he/she is or isn’t.
  • Ability to use any type of answer scale from 2 to 10 points, not just 10 point rating scales which our competitors favor. In fact, 10 points is too many for most people to discriminate between accurately. Seven points should be the maximum.
  • Ability to include open-ended questions which provide valuable qualitative information. These comments bring the numerical data to life.
  • Ability to track changes over time so you can see where you are improving or not.
There are many other advantages of Survey Tools for Windows but see for yourself. Download the working demo. It is the real product but limited to 10 respondents. In order to download FREE demos from our site you must have a user ID and a password. If you do not have them, register now (free of charge), and you will be given a user ID and password. Then, Click here for the de