Wednesday 31 July 2013

Competency-based 360 Multi-source Feedback: Establishing Feedback Goals

Part 1 of 4 in the CompetencyCore™ Guide to 360 Multi-source Feedbackseries:
  1. Feedback Goals
  2. Process and Resources
  3. Delivering the Project
  4. Selecting a multi-source feedback software solution
Download the complete guide to 360 Feedback
By Ian Wayne, M.Sc and
Suzanne Simpson, PhD, C. Psych.

360 Multi-source Feedback is increasingly being used in employment settings to monitor and measure performance and provide meaningful feedback to employees on their strengths and areas for development.  When used properly, this experience can be enriching for employees and managers alike; however, when improperly developed or implemented, 360 Multi-source processes can be highly damaging for both the employee and the organization.

This series takes a look at the best practices organizations need to implement to ensure a positive experience for all involved.

360 Multi-source Feedback Defined 

360 or Multi-source feedback is a process for collecting information about an individual’s performance from a range of sources. In addition to the individual being reviewed, these sources include supervisors, peers, subordinates, and in some cases customers.

Multi-source systems are primarily used for developmental purposes, promoting individual self-awareness and highlighting key strengths and areas for development. Multiple sources provide a variety of perspectives about an individual's skills and competencies, helping to build a richer and more accurate picture than could be obtained from any one source.

An effective 360 degree feedback process leads to more reliable performance ratings, better performance information, and greater performance improvements than feedback processes relying on a single source of information.  Properly constructed, they promote an increased understanding of the behaviors required to improve both individual and organizational effectiveness and focus development on those competencies required for successful performance. 

Goals of Multi-source Feedback

Clearly defined goals and objectives will help guide the adoption of a Multi-source Feedback process and enable you to determine whether it is successful. Organizations typically use 360 degree feedback for one of two reasons:

  • To support learning and development activities
  • To enhance the performance appraisal process
Before deciding on the objectives for Multi-source Feedback in your organization, it is vital to consider your organization’s culture. 360 / Multi-source Feedback is more likely to be successful when openness, mutual trust and honesty are an integral part of the organizational culture and there is a genuine desire for performance improvement. This is especially true if the results are used to support the performance appraisal process.

The purpose of feedback, whether it is for development or as part of a performance appraisal process, will influence the way the process is implemented. For example, if used for performance appraisal purposes:
  • Participation in the process is likely to be mandatory
  • It is likely to be carried out annually
  • The individual’s manager is likely to be involved in follow-up action
  • Decisions on how the feedback links to reward (e.g., bonuses; salary increases; etc.) need to be clear
Having defined the goals of your 360 Multi-source Feedback process, it then becomes possible to define and develop a system and process for achieving these goals.  The next in this blog series reviews best practices in defining your process and the resources needed to ensure effective implementation.


DTI. (2001). 360 Degree Feedback: Best Practice Guidelines. Downloaded from:‎
Maylett, T. (2009). 360-Degree Feedback Revisited: The Transition From Development to Appraisal. Compensation & Benefits Review, 41(5), 52–59.
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, 57(3), 196–209.

Want to learn more? Get the Guide!

This guide reviews the best practices for 360 degree feedback, beginning with establishing 360 feedback goals, to process design, project delivery and software platform selection. It also includes a 360 degree feedback checklist for a successful implementation.

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