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    Jun 10, 2021    |   Psychometrics Canada

The 3 pillars of a successful 360 implementation

3 minute read

Written by John Russell, I/O Psychologist

So you’re thinking of launching a 360 feedback initiative, but not sure where to begin? 360 feedback systems are one of the easiest ways to improve leadership effectiveness by increasing self-awareness. The idea being that we gather anonymous feedback from a broad range of people that interact with the participant frequently, and then review that feedback in a coaching conversation.

It seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Well, that’s not always the case. There are many things that can go wrong, even with the best intentions. Successful 360 interventions tend to have all of these elements built in: Communication, Coaching, and Action Planning.


Communication of your 360 initiative is the first step to successful implementation. To begin, it helps to put yourself in the shoes of the 360 participant. What would you like to know before getting involved? Some questions to answer are:

Two women discussing 360 feedback

  • Why are we doing 360s?
  • How are we choosing 360 participants?
  • Will this be used for performance evaluation or compensation purposes?
  • Who will be choosing the raters?
  • Who will have access to the final results?
  • Will I be expected to share my results with my manager?
  • What are the expectations for me after the feedback?

As you can see, there are many things to process and formalize prior to launching your 360 process, and the more pre-work you put in, the better the outcome will be. You don’t want anyone making any false assumptions, and you can’t be changing the rules halfway through the process.

Best practice is to only use 360 feedback for individual development purposes, and to implement it in a transparent, trusting manner where all stakeholders have clarity about what the expectations are.


So, you’ve communicated and launched the 360 process, and now you have the final report in your hands. The next step is to provide the feedback to the participant in a coaching debrief. This part is best handled by someone who is knowledgeable and competent in providing assessment feedback to leaders. Some organizations have people receive training to take on this role internally, and some bring in outside help to deliver the feedback.

The role of the coach is to guide the participant through the interpretation of feedback results, analyzing the context surrounding their leadership behaviours, helping the participant identify areas of potential strength and development, and guiding them to concrete, actionable developmental recommendations.

Action Planning

team planning 360 feedback evaluation action plan

The final pillar involves taking the learnings from the coaching stage, and applying them to a formal action plan. Without an action plan or appropriate follow up measure, there won’t be any sustained behavior change over time and the desired increase in leadership effectiveness won’t be realized.

Most organizations have the participant sit down with their manager or an HR professional to help them create an appropriate action plan. This plan should include development goals, criteria for effectively measuring these goals, and action strategies for implementation. Best practice is to build in a series of developmental milestones, so that the behaviour change isn’t too daunting, and there can be some small wins along the way. An easy way to automate development goals is to build them into your calendar so you can have daily or weekly reminders of behaviours you’re developing.

Since 360 feedback is a snapshot in time of a leader’s performance and behaviour, it can also be reintroduced again 12 to 18 months later to see if any of the introduced behaviour changes were effective. This, in essence, provides you with individualized benchmarks for your leaders to reference throughout their leadership development journey.

Contact our leadership experts at Psychometrics Canada to help you implement 360 feedback in your organization. Talk with an expert.

Filed under: Leadership Development