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Nico Liebenberg

360 feedback cannot be over-emphasised as part of a coaching process. What is your favourite instruments to use for 360 degree feedback? Nico.

Jim Stroup

Steve - your emphasis on pursuing conversations to enable you to understand the feedback properly is right on the money. While 360 degree feedback is an excellent technique for employment at many levels, simple number-crunching of survey results can be dangerous if you just leave it at that. A central part of a manager's job is to manage people, and the time must be taken to do this - we cannot reduce relationships - especially the nuances of them - to data, as we often can with the other resources we manage.

I have found that people can be quite frank in their comments, especially if they are written, and turned over to a third party (HR) for compilation and re-briefing to the evaluatee. They tend to treat this seriously, and, just as importantly, to take its presentation as their being treated seriously.

One-on-one verbal conversations can be problematic, because people want to be helpfully critical, but don't want their observations to become the basis for a confrontation, so my experience has been that, with the exception of senior to junior, written commentary has proven to be most effective. I'm sure there are those who've had good experience with verbal commentary - would love to hear from them.

Great moral here - thanks for continuing to look behind the curtain!

Steve Roesler

Hello, Nico,

Well, I use a number of 360 tools, but the one that I use most frequently is the TalentSmart 360 Refined https://www.talentsmart.com/products/surveys.php?ID=1.

It breaks down Core Leadership and Adaptive Leadership competencies, allows a large number of respondents, uses numerical Likert-type responses as well as focused narrative feedback, and the customer service is second to none. It also reflects those areas where the subject over-estimates and under-estimates on the self-assessment part, which really leads to good follow up. BTW: I don't get a commission on sales!:)

Thanks for visiting and taking time to comment, Nico.

Steve Roesler


You are so right about the third party portion. The process you described is, in fact, the process that I use. By sitting down first and reviewing the feedback and the areas of interest, the subject can hear what's being said without much angst or defensiveness. That is, I'm not in the reporting chain, not an employee, and only there to help from a developmental point of view. Then we discuss how to go back and have the discussions to find out what's prompting the specific feedback, pro and con.

It also hits on another area that we write about frequently. And that's the importance (duty, if you will) of managers consistently having conversations with their people (not consultants having conversations with their people).

Have a good weekend, Jim.


I once worked with a small business whose VP tried to implement it. As long as we did not provide any "constructive feedback" about the CEO it was fine.

When implementing a 360 degree feedback, it is important to realize that it is not personal. It is equally important to remember the overall corporate objective and how this feedback helps achieve that objective.

Ellen Weber

Great discussion on an important topic that impacts all of us. I love the idea of discussion to follow the data -- and yet I have reservations when I do not know how the exchange will be facilitated.

Now if Steve's leading that discussion it would be fair and deep ... Yet what about the guy who interprets the data funny to begin with or the gal who comes in with an agenda. Too many people are not getting feedback that doubles as a growth plan. Instead they get zapped with somebody's data.

When possible, I like to create feedback as a process - with folks who will be involved in its results. Agree on the criteria, plan a process to observe it, and make it a bit of a competition blast to achieve it.

Sometimes the data needs much different discussion than it gets. People fall needlessly when that happens. Great topic and it has me thinking!

Steve Roesler


Well, the 360 process is normally targeted to include specific people who have agreed to receive feedback for developmental reasons. To offer feedback to anyone else other than the intended recipient is "out of bounds" and not helpful to the principals.

Your remark about being related to objectives is certainly important. The questions on 360s should reflect managerial capabilities that are direclty in sync with achieving the company's goals. Anything else is a waste of time.

As for not being personal: It's always taken personally. Meaning, that if a manager is really concerned about performance, the response to encouraging feedback will be a reason for joy. Comments about a big gap in performance would be cause for some soul-searching.

And finally: CA, the new site looks very good :)

Steve Roesler

Well, we're certainly of like minds on this one, Ellen.

I'm in the middle of a typical series of 360s for a client company now. Here is my process:

1. The sponsoring (in this case CEO) executive meets with the people who (s)he would like to receive 360 degree feedback. The purpose of the meeting is to explain what it is, why it's being done (developmental plan), and the logistics.

2. If the people involved don't already know me, I'm introduced and explain my role.

3. There are three constituencies who provide feedback:
a. The boss
b. Direct Reports
c. Peers/Colleagues. These are people outside of the reporting chain who rely on the recipients for information sharing, coordination, resources, etc. These people collectively reflect a manager's willingess and ability to work with and influence those who are important to a comany's success but who don't provide the pay raise or deliver the immediate team results. Note: I always work with the individuals to designate who might be included here. This can sometimes be a revealing discussion in itself and offer some "Aha's."

3. All of the 360's I use are done online.

4. When the results are complete, I send them to the sponsoring executive to read. They are not to be discussed and I've not had anyone to date violate that.

5. I meet with the sponsoring executive to review and help interpret the developmental meaning of the data. We have a lengthy discussion until we're both satisfied that the possible/likely meaning within the data have been identified.

5. I then meet one-on-one with each of the recipients to review the results (which they have received and read). I start by asking them their "take" on the meaning, then we work through each of the elements together.

6. Each recipient prepares a personal development plan--albeit cursory--to discuss with the sponsor.

7. Then, each meets with the sponsor (their boss) and discusses ways to reinforce or improve, depending upon the issue. The sponsor is coached in advance NOT to ask for a shopping list of changes. The magic number is 3. If an executive can meaningfully improve 3 important aspects of organizational life, that's a huge win.

8. Depending on the agreement, either the sponsor, myself, or both of us follow up on progress. This adds importance to the activity and allows for re-direction as well as finding ways to help the individuals involved learn what they need to learn.

9. Sometimes another 360 is done to measure progress, sometimes not. The interesting thing about a second 360 is that expectations change. How people are "scored and commented on" differs from the first to the second. The expectations of those filling out the responses usually increases. They figure that if the executive took their first feedback to heart and had a chance to work on it, that they should certainly have improved. So when there is a second 360, it's more important to look at the behavioral comments than at the numerical scores.

I think I just did another post...

Thanks, Ellen.


Hi Steve, building on what Ellen said, here's a strategy to consider for feedback and even different engagement...

Ask the person what she likes most about your leadership style. And then ask what style the manager could use to engage more of "my" talents [employee].

My sense is that this is a two way street and that the manager can grow through this experience as well as the employee. By giving this as an "Exit Slip" [@Ellen Weber] at the end of the session the employee can jot down these final thoughts so you as a manager can adjust and change as well.


Steve Roesler

Hi, Robyn,

Thanks for stopping by with your insight.

I do, indeed, have some thoughts: That exact question is part of the 360 process that I use! And you are so right: it leads to the kind of conversation that can make a difference for everyone concerned.

Gosh, are we collectively brilliant or what?!

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