New guide helps HR teams make the right choices about 360-degree feedback


Much of the advice on planning, implementing and managing 360-degree feedback processes is either too formulaic, one-dimensional or ‘blindingly obvious’, according to talent management software specialist Head Light.

To help practitioners understand the reality of the process and its finer points, the company has created a free, comprehensive handbook called The Good Practice Guide to Using 360-degree Feedback. Instead of prescribing a single way forward, it examines how different approaches can be used successfully in different situations.

The 46-page guide includes practical guidance on how to build an initial business case, how to gain the support of senior stakeholders, and line managers, and how to get the most from the process, with advice on preparing participants, reviewers and facilitators. It explains how to design an effective assessment that focuses on your organisation’s key competencies, how to create a communications strategy and embed a feedback-friendly culture as well as how to use 360 for ‘high stakes’ talent management processes such as succession planning.

Ian Lee-Emery, managing director of Head Light, said: “360-degree feedback is an effective talent management tool that not only helps people to understand their strengths, and how they come across, it also shows how they can develop their capabilities and behaviour. Done well, it can improve individual and team performance and help organisations make better talent decisions. But some care is needed to get 360-degree feedback right. We’ve consolidated our 10 years of experience to give HR teams the relevant and practical details they need to make the process successful. Whether you’re embarking on 360 for the first time or updating an existing process, this guide will help you make the right choices.”

The new guide emphasises the crucial role of facilitators in a 360 process and it explains how they can prepare for and manage an effective feedback review session.
“Good facilitators will help participants to interpret their ratings and prioritise both the positive and the constructive feedback,” said Ian Lee-Emery. “They can also help them to put things into perspective and to consider their response, in terms of the actions or development opportunities that are available.”

The importance of the line manager’s role is also highlighted. “It’s vital to get line managers on board as they not only have to provide considered feedback and examples as part of the review process, they also need to help participants set their objectives and create a focused development plan,” said Ian Lee-Emery. “A good 360 process will improve all-round productivity and it will help line managers to monitor and support the ongoing development of their teams.”

Head Light’s good practice guide has links to its thought leadership resources on issues such as assessing your organisation’s readiness for 360 and maximising the return on investment from the process. It also includes sample briefing documents for participants and reviewers, as well as a checklist of the features to look for when choosing a 360 review system.

“Much can be done to ensure the smooth running of a 360 programme if you’ve selected an easy-to-use and accessible online system,” said Ian Lee-Emery. “It’s good practice to take advantage of update sessions from your supplier, to stay abreast of new analytics, reporting options and other functionality. You should also make use of their user group to share ideas and experiences.”

The Good Practice Guide to Using 360-degree Feedback can be requested from