Unlike traditional employee performance reviews which just share manager feedback, 360-degree reviews incorporate anonymous feedback from an individual’s coworkers, direct reports, and senior leaders. But, to collect helpful 360-degree feedback — and gain actionable information for your employees and valuable insights for your company — you must begin by asking the right questions.
Here’s a detailed look at what makes a good question for a 360-degree feedback survey and how to write your own survey questions, plus examples of the types of questions you should be asking on your questionnaire.
What is 360 feedback?
As its name suggests, 360-degree feedback is commentary that comes from every angle, including from colleagues, managers, and even customers. While 360 feedback can be part of a company’s continuous feedback model, it is often collected during 360-degree performance reviews.
360-degree performance reviews aim to provide a comprehensive assessment of an employee’s job performance and specific competencies to give a holistic picture of their strengths and weaknesses. By leveraging feedback from many sources, 360 reviews can provide well-rounded commentary and help uncover blind spots that are limiting employees’ growth.
A 360-degree review is a helpful feedback tool for individual contributors and leaders alike. As Lynda Silsbee wrote in her article for Forbes, “Imagine a panoramic view of leadership insights — that's what a 360-degree leadership survey offers. It's like taking a comprehensive X-ray of a leader's impact from all angles.”
Because leaders’ behavior can affect everything from retention to employee engagement, it’s crucial that they have opportunities to receive feedback from stakeholders at every level. By allowing employees to anonymously provide candid upward feedback to their managers, 360 reviews help leaders understand how they’re answering their team’s needs and shaping employee experiences.
For all employees, 360-degree feedback provides fresh perspectives that can help them understand where their performance is lacking. With honest commentary from peers, managers, direct reports, and more, employees can discover how their performance and mannerisms are perceived — knowledge that can foster improved self-awareness and aid professional development.
Of course, to get the most out of a 360-degree feedback review, you need to ask good questions.
What makes a good 360-degree review question?
There are a few ways to approach 360-degree review questions. But, to provide both qualitative data and quantitative insights into an employee’s performance, most companies use a mix of two types of questions: open- and closed-ended.
Open-ended questions can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no” response. Instead, they require the respondent to answer the question in their own words, which can allow for more thorough feedback but may also take respondents longer to complete.
Open-ended questions are effective at providing qualitative feedback and are often used to evaluate soft skills like adaptability, critical thinking, and communication skills.
Closed-ended questions are answered by selecting from a set of predetermined responses. One common way of structuring closed-ended questions is with a rating scale like the Likert Scale, which has respondents indicate their level of agreement on a given statement by selecting from a list of five responses ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”
Closed-ended questions provide quantitative feedback that can help measure employee performance and improvement over time, especially with hard skills like coding or copywriting.
Regardless of what form your questions take, they should all be intentional and aim to solicit constructive feedback and actionable insights from raters. Remember, overly general or all-positive feedback won't do much good for employees. Rather, you want them to hear detailed comments on how they can improve their performance.
“A good 360-degree review question helps the person receiving feedback know what action to take,” explained Megan Leasher, PhD, a talent strategist and advisor. “For example, each question's answer should specify whether the respondent wants the [employee being reviewed] to stop, start, maintain, or replace a behavior. This feedback is critical to providing prescriptive guidance so the [employee being reviewed] knows exactly how to take action.”
How to Write 360-Degree Feedback Questions
Once you’ve determined the right types of questions to include in your survey, it’s time to craft the questions themselves. To do so, first determine your goals. Then, write specific, intentional questions in line with those goals.
Determine your goals.
When writing your 360-degree feedback questions, you need to keep your goal in mind. If you’re using a 360-degree review to evaluate employee performance, you’ll want to opt for a universal set of questions that apply to every employee at a specific job level or managerial role, so you can accurately rate employees, establish a performance benchmark, and compare competencies and skills.
On the other hand, if you’re using a 360-degree feedback process mainly for employee development, you have the freedom to cater questions to each individual. For example, you might include questions on leadership, communication, and strategy for employees in leadership roles, whereas you might focus more on time management, collaboration, and technical skills for individual contributors since they aren’t responsible for leading a team.
Write specific, intentional questions.
You can tailor questions toward a specific employee's well-known strengths, weaknesses, and core competencies, but try to include other questions so both you and your employee can gain a comprehensive view of all aspects of their performance. This way, their peers and other respondents can help identify growth opportunities that might not have surfaced before.
Remember, every question should be specific, clear, and intentional. You need to ask respondents to explain how or why they feel a certain way to collect more effective feedback for your team members.
Developing Comprehensive Questionnaires
Keep your questionnaires long enough to collect actionable feedback, but short enough that your raters don't abandon the survey before completion.
According to media buying agency Good Apple’s chief of staff Elise Cangemi, “Managers should ask reviewers to complete between seven and 10 questions per review. Any fewer and you won't get enough feedback on the employee, and any more you start to see the quality of responses slip.”
Need help crafting your own 360-degree review questionnaire? Start with the following questions.
It helps to have a balance of quantifiable data for performance insight and qualitative responses for additional context. As discussed, closed-ended questions work best for gathering quantifiable data.
Using the following options from the Likert scale — “strongly disagree,” “disagree,” “neutral,” “agree,” and “strongly agree” — have your respondents indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with any of the following statements:
- This employee prioritizes their workload effectively and meets deadlines.
- This person communicates clearly and effectively with me and other colleagues.
- This person exhibits strong leadership skills.
- This employee has strong interpersonal skills and helps everyone feel welcome on the team.
- This team member strongly embodies our company values.
- This person is always timely and efficient at providing feedback.
- This employee prioritizes teamwork above all else.
- This person finds creative solutions and takes initiative when problem-solving.
- This employee is always open to receiving both negative and positive feedback.
- This person values diverse perspectives, even if they are different from their own.
10 Open-Ended 360-Degree Feedback Questions
In order to elicit the qualitative information you’ll want to gather, it's important to include a number of questions that touch on an employee's strengths, as well as their areas for improvement. This can help managers ensure that each 360-degree review shares a balance of both positive and constructive feedback. It can also help your employees be more receptive to the results.
Here are ten open-ended 360-degree review questions you can use for your feedback questionnaire:
- What would you say are this person’s strengths?
- What is one thing this employee should start doing?
- What is one thing this employee should continue doing?
- What is one thing this employee should stop doing?
- How well does this person manage their time and workload?
- Share an example of a company value this person has brought to life.
- What are three or four words you would use to describe this employee?
- If you were this leader, what would be the first action you would take?
- How well does this individual adapt to changing priorities?
- What’s an area you’d like to see this employee improve?
5 Core Competency 360-Degree Feedback Questions
360-degree performance appraisals should also include some questions that aim to evaluate how well employees are delivering on core competencies.
Core competencies are the skills and qualities that employees need to succeed in their roles, like decision-making, leadership abilities, or problem-solving skills. Job competencies are often included in the posting for a given role and can be referred back to during the performance appraisal process to determine what qualities might be most important for a specific position.
Here are five sample questions that can be used to measure performance in core competencies:
- How often does this employee meet deadlines?
- What three hard skills is this employee most successful with?
- How effectively does this individual communicate progress on team goals and projects?
- What skills could help this person become a better decision-maker?
- How well does this employee manage multiple projects?
Develop Effective 360-Degree Feedback Questionnaires With Lattice
One of the biggest benefits of 360-degree reviews is that they enable managers and human resources teams to share more balanced, comprehensive, and constructive feedback with their employees. These reviews, when used as one part of your broader performance management cycle, can provide a more holistic picture of performance and can help your business identify and develop your organization’s future leaders.
Start taking a more holistic approach to employee performance and give individuals a better understanding of how their work is valued by your entire company. By incorporating the questions provided here into your 360-degree review process, you will be set up to conduct an efficient and successful review that is sure to deliver valuable information and insights for employees, managers, and your organization as a whole.
Check out our 360 Performance Review Template for more sample questions you can use for peer, direct report, and manager reviews, as well as self-assessments. And for even more support with your performance management processes, book a Lattice product demo today.
- 360-degree employee feedback incorporates commentary from peers, managers, and direct reports.
- It’s best to use a mix of open- and closed-ended questions in your 360-degree performance questionnaire.
- Be sure to include questions that solicit actionable responses and ask how the employee shows core competencies in their work.