3 Easy Tips For Your 360 Feedback Questionnaire

360 Degree Feedback is one of the most useful ways of providing a person with structured feedback. If not done properly the feedback will have limited value and the process will potentially waste the time of the people involved.

Why you need to be careful with your 360 Feedback questionnaire

There’s an old adage that what gets measured gets managed and this is also true of 360 Degree Feedback. The questions you ask in your 360 Feedback process will be communicating to people:

  • What is important to your company
  • What defines a capable person at whatever role the questionnaire is addressing
  • What they should strive to become
  • Where they should spend effort developing

If you ask the wrong questions or poorly written questions, at best you’ll waste their time. At worst you’ll misalign people with the direction they need to take.

If you ask the right questions, you’ll focus people on what’s important to your company and culture.

Tip 1 – make the questionnaire specific to the role

Imagine you’ve decided to undertake a 360 feedback process in your company to develop a group of team leaders. You might decide that communication is critical to their role and therefore you should include questions examining their capabilities in this area. You might also decide that the survey should include plenty of leadership specific questions. Three that you might include in your questionnaire are:

  1. Provides clear and specific directions to team members
  2. Formulates plans to help team members adapt to new circumstances
  3. Demonstrates strategic thinking in their work and recognises the wider implications of a situation

All three of these questions relate to leadership, but only two are relevant to the role. Questions 1 and 2 are relevant to team leaders, but question 3 is not. It is a question more specific to senior leadership roles. If the third question is included in your questionnaire, many of your team leaders will receive feedback that they need to develop this area. This may distract them from other feedback that is more directly related to their role.

Tip 2 – the questions need to provide easily actionable feedback

Switch gears now and imagine you are a recipient of 360 feedback. One of the items in the questionnaire is:

Delegates work where appropriate

Your feedback report shows that you need to develop this capability. But you think to yourself, I’m doing it exactly the same way my boss does. She does it really well and no-one has an issue with it. You’re at a loose end and like others in this circumstance may end up deciding to focus on other feedback from your report instead.

The problem in this case has been caused by a question that is not specific enough to provide actionable feedback. A more specific question might be:

Delegates to people with the appropriate skills

If your report shows you need to develop this capability, you know more specifically what you need to do differently going forward. You need to make sure the people you delegate to have the right skills for the task.

Tip 3 – only ask questions that matter

A good rule of thumb for 360 feedback questionnaires is that more is not always better. Keep your questionnaire as short as possible while still meeting your purpose for undertaking the process. The reason why is that lengthy questionnaires have a number of problems:

  1. To provide quality feedback to just one person a number of people are typically asked to respond to a survey. The longer the survey, the more time you are asking people to commit.
  2. People don’t like responding to long surveys and will often not respond if it will require too much of their time.
  3. Long surveys will potentially provide too much feedback which will overwhelm the recipient. An overwhelmed recipient will not action feedback effectively.

To keep your questionnaires as short as possible, only ask questions that are important to the purpose of the survey. For instance, if the purpose of a survey is to develop a group of customer service agents, don’t ask questions not directly related to this role such as:

Reviews information from different sources and selects the best options to make sound decisions.

Looking for pre-built and configurable 360 questionnaires?

Cognology’s 360 Feedback System is an easy to use online tool ideal for small or large groups of people. It comes pre-loaded with a 360 questionnaire library that you can configure to your needs.

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