How Should 360-Degree Feedback Data be Collected and Shared?

August 10, 2016 by Sandra Mashihi

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.  -Peter Drucker

Once the 360-degree feedback tools have been taken, the next step is to collect the information then share it. It is important to ensure that how 360 degree feedback is process and shared is done effectively to ensure to maximum results.

Today, almost all 360-degree feedback is collected using online surveys (although handwritten assessments may still be required in special circumstances). Previous research (Smither, Walker & Yap, 2004) demonstrates the equivalence of handwritten and online assessments. However, it is also recommended, when possible, to supplement online surveys and assessments with selected interviews or focus groups to ensure a greater specificity and clarity of feedback responses.

When sharing data, here are a couple best practices that make or break the effectiveness of the tool.

360-degree feedback combined with structured follow-up and coaching leads to better performance outcomes.

      It is very common to provide the 360 tool without any kind of thorough interpretation of the results that can lead to behavioral change. In one empirical study conducted on the impact of executive coaching, Smither et al. (2003)1 reported that after receiving 360-degree feedback, managers who worked with a coach were significantly more likely to set measurable and specific goals, solicit ideas for improvement and subsequently received improved performance ratings. Thatch (2002)2 found that in six weeks of executive coaching following multi-rater feedback, performance increased by 60% and in a much cited study in the public sector, Olivero, Bane & Kopelman (1997)3 found that employee feedback and coaching for two-months increased productivity above the effects of a managerial training program 922.4% versus 80.0%) for 31 participants.

    Being Prescriptive is key in interpreting feedback to others.

      An interesting study by Robert Hooijberg and colleagues looking at what makes coaching effective surveyed 232 managers from diverse organizations3. One of their key questions asked, “What did your coach do that you found effective?” From the view of the client or participants, three major categories determined feedback success: 1) Interpreting results (34.8%), 2) Inspiring action (27.5%) and 3) Professionalism (23.3%). The majority of clients thought the best coaches were those who analyzed strengths and weaknesses, helped assimilate feedback and make concrete developmental recommendations.





    Coach’s Critique:
    With all the effort and trouble that gets put into implementing a 360-degree feedback process, it would seem to be a waste to make the mistake of neglecting the proper and effective way of sharing and interpreting 360-degree feedback results. Coaching a client through interpreting feedback results, encouraging motivation for behavioral change and follow-through on development effort can indeed make a significant difference to the outcome of the 360-degree process. Without coaching or at least a structured follow-up to the participant, there is no way of ensuring participants have accepted their feedback and gained awareness in a way that proactively motivates them to develop.

    Often times, vendors and implementers of 360-degree feedback tools provide the program, get back the results, and assume that the rest of it is corrected! Unfortunately, they make the mistake of diagnosing their employees without prescribing a plan of action. This type of behavior is similar to going through a series of medical x-rays, being diagnosed with an illness, NOT being given a prescription for the medications and/or procedures in curing the illness. Inevitably, the illness is likely to grow and get worse. So, what was the whole purpose of taking x-rays?

    What has been your experience with effective approaches in sharing 360-degree feedback?

    1. Smither, J., London, M., Flautt, R., Vargas, Y., & Kucine, I. (2003) .Can working with an executive coach improve multisource feedback ratings over time? A quasi-experimental field study. Personnel Psychology, 56, 23–44.  []
    2. Thach, E. (2002). The impact of executive coaching and 360-feedback on leadership effectiveness. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 23, 205–214. []
    3. Olivero, G., Bane, D., & Kopelman, R. (1997). Executive coaching as a transfer of training tool: Effects on productivity in a public agency.

Public Personnel Management



    , 461–469. []

    Dr. Sandra Mashihi is a senior consultant with Envisia Learning, Inc. She has extensive experience in sales training, behavioral assessments and executive coaching. Prior to working at Envisia Learning, Inc., She was an internal Organizational Development Consultant at Marcus & Millichap where she was responsible for initiatives within training & development and recruiting.. Sandra received her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from University of California, Los Angeles and received her Master of Science and Doctorate in Organizational Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology.

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  • I agree it’s effective feedback – however based on recomendation I have got in the past and what I have seen in practice, managers often spend so much time “headhunting” feedback, that I would never recommend people to give their feedback. That said I had got 360 feedback before and I’ve always been very happy with it.

  • I have a couple thoughts. One is that DecisionWise tweeted some similar messages today about the value of a coach in making a 360 experience useful. That said, all coaches are not equal. Dr. Nowack made us aware of research (Jones, Woods & Guillaume, 2015) that indicated that internal coaches are more effective than external coaches. I would also propose that of all the players in a 360 (self, boss, coworkers and coach), the assigned coach is the least knowledgeable of the ratee’s performance context. Therefore, a trained boss is by far the best 360 coach, adding on the ongoing relationship to ensure follow-through (while other coaches exit the system).

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