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Understanding the Value of a 360 Assessment

We’ve had the pleasure of working with organizations throughout the world for almost 40 years, providing leadership and organizational development services. In many of our engagements, we include 360 assessments with coaching, action planning, and follow-up to measure improvement. 360 assessments, when incorporating best practices, are inarguably one of the most powerful professional development tools in the industry.


360 feedback, which includes receiving feedback from key stakeholders and receiving coaching that helps the leaders interpret the results and put their feedback into action, yields an excellent return on investment, both in the short-term and long-term. With over a billion data points, our research shows that 93% of the leaders who took part in a 360 found it to be an unbelievably valuable process that helped them better understand how others perceive them. When coupled with 1:1 coaching, that percentage increases to 96%. Additionally, these leaders who follow the best practices and use the data are also perceived to be more effective 6 months after going through the 360 process.


Most business schools agree that using the 70-20-10 rule for learning tends to be the most effective for leaders and results in the best long-term outcomes; that is 70% of on-the-job learning, 20% coaching and mentoring (other leaders, SMEs, and coaches support and share their experience and expertise), and 10% training. 360 feedback falls into the on-the-job learning as well as the coaching and mentoring, accounting for 90% of learning, making this an incredibly impactful initiative.


360s can be a great supplement to other leadership development initiatives, such as specific leadership workshops or specific training for emerging talent. Consider other Learning and Development programs that your organization is implementing and think about whether adding the 360 feedback component can deepen that experience.


360s add tremendous value for every level of leadership, even those who are individual contributors. Historically, 360s were used primarily for positional leadership – Senior leaders, C-level execs, and their teams. Although most organizations still start at the top leadership level when implementing a 360 process, many also include ALL levels in the organization. It is more about developing leadership competencies that reflect the unique industry, business, and expectations of the organization – and every employee who takes part will help the organization be more successful.


Although anyone can benefit from a 360 assessment, following are those specific populations who most organizations prioritize as excellent candidates for a 360 feedback, coaching, and goal-setting initiative:


  • Senior leaders who aspire to be as effective as possible and want the same for the teams they lead
  • Those who lead projects and must influence without authority by inspiring commitment from other stakeholders
  • People recently promoted to management positions
  • Emerging Talent; those identified as high-potential who are seeking future leadership roles
  • People with new leadership responsibilities due to re-orgs, acquisitions, or mergers
  • Current managers and leaders who want to continue to learn and grow
  • Individual Contributors who work transversally and rely on various stakeholders to deliver on their commitments
  • Anyone leading people


While feedback is helpful all the time, the implementation of a more formal 360 feedback process takes time. Organizations generally want to build the 360 assessment around their existing competency model to ensure alignment with the leadership expectations. Some organizations may have this model developed, and others may want to refine it. Either way, ensuring consistency between their core competencies and the items measured in a 360 is important. Organizations will then customize the assessment, develop the communications, set expectations, and share roles and responsibilities with the leaders and their raters, and all of this occurs before the first assessment is completed! Putting the time and thought into this initiative up-front is essential to the success of the project.


Communicating the expectations and sharing the overall purpose and value of the 360 is a key step before launching the project. It is so important that everyone participating understands how the feedback will be used and what steps they are expected to take after receiving the feedback – using the feedback to set meaningful goals and make positive change.


Imagine what your organization could accomplish if 96% of your employees, your greatest resource, became even more effective! If you’re ready to take the next step towards investing in your most valuable asset, your people, please connect with our team today to learn more!