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Checklist: How to Run a 360° Employee Engagement Program

5 min read
Employee Experience
Checklist: How to Run a 360° Employee Engagement Program

360° employee reviews are a highly engaging and effective way for everyone in an organization to evaluate each other – and be evaluated.

This essential checklist gives you a framework for your 360° program that solves the most common employee performance feedback problems.

You want to understand how teams work together in your organization. You know 360-degree feedback can show you the insight you’d never get from hierarchical employee reviews.

But preparing and running a successful 360-degree employee performance review takes time, effort and attention to detail.

In overview, it’s a 3-step process:

  1. Collect feedback from the employee, his or her manager, co-workers, and direct reports.
  2. Bring all that feedback together to derive insight about employees individually and as a group.
  3. Act on those insights by adjusting HR policy, management training, performance incentives and other factors to grow and retain talent.

Each of those three steps requires careful planning and execution.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. Does it have to be so much hard work? Not with this handy checklist to keep you on track!

Here are the essential steps involved in every successful 360-degree feedback program. Work your way through them before you start collecting 360° feedback — or if you’ve already implemented a 360° program, use this checklist to make sure you didn’t miss a vital step along the way.

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Define your objectives

If you collect 360° feedback purely because you feel you should, or because that’s what other firms in your industry are doing, then you’re shooting without a target. There’s no point starting a 360° feedback program unless you’ve established its business purpose: to optimize employee performance, to improve engagement, to guide talent development, to encourage brand evangelism, to understand failure?

Aim for a single objective or a small number of complementary objectives; don’t try to align your research with too many objectives at once or you’ll weaken your insight and actions.

Select relevant KPIs

Now that you know your objectives, decide what key performance indicators you’ll use to see how close you are to those objectives. Figure out the measurements that matter to the company in the context of each objective, in the short and long term. Then decide how you’ll measure them, and what action you’ll take on the information once you have it.

Choose a 360° feedback tool or service

Your choice of vendors, applications and services will determine how much of the work falls to HR and how much is taken care of by your feedback technology providers. Ultimately, it’ll also influence the insights you derive from your 360° feedback data — some feedback systems, like Questback’s Leadership Compass help to suggest potential insight and actions, while other systems merely provide access to your data.

Consider accessibility issues

Your choice of feedback collection solution dictates what media and devices employees can use to give their feedback, which can make a big difference to your response rate and the amount of time you have to spend chasing non-responders.

Remember, too, that your accessibility choices will affect the research experience. Building in options such as a choice of medium (written or spoken aloud, for example) for both questions and answers helps to make your surveys accessible for people with a range of physical capabilities and cognitive preferences.

Decide how often to collect 360° feedback

The traditional, annual employee performance review and engagement survey are out-of-date months before the next one rolls around. More frequent feedback gives your organization the ability to pick up on trends and market developments while they’re happening, rather than noticing them only after the fact.

Consider running short, focused 360-degree employee surveys during or immediately after significant events, to capture reactions before the memories fade.

Explain the program to participants

Simply handing out instructions to complete a 360-degree performance review will leave employees feeling uncertain and vulnerable. Explain your objectives, collection methods and data use as simply and clearly as possible. Set expectations and let employees know how their 360° feedback will affect things that matter to them, such as professional development or on-the-job perks.

Specify what’s anonymous or confidential

You’ll need to balance respondents’ desire for the safety of anonymity against your desire to know who said what. Once you’ve reached a decision on this issue, add it to your in-depth explanation for employees so they understand exactly how their feedback will be shared.

Decide if employee participation is mandatory

What will you do if some employees don’t respond to your feedback invitations? You can send another invitation, of course, and another after that. But before you start surveying employees, be clear about how you’ll handle those who don’t want to take part.

Threatening penalties for employees who don’t participate in your surveys will only create anxiety, and “forced” feedback is unlikely, to be honest. A short side survey exclusively for employees who object to the 360° feedback program may be the best way to understand and resolve their concerns.

Integrate customer feedback

If an employee interacts with customers, you haven’t collected truly 360-degree feedback on that employee unless you include customer feedback. Customers’ comments provide an external perspective that can reinforce, explain or even contradict the feedback you collect from within your organization.

Customer feedback doesn’t necessarily need to be a segment of your 360° feedback collection — the customer experience team may already have access to relevant insight that you can integrate with employee feedback.

Focus on specific, adjustable behaviors

If you don’t want your 360° feedback programs to turn into highly subjective popularity contests, it’s best to avoid discussion of broad personality traits such as “team spirit” or “friendliness”. Instead, ask for feedback about specific behaviors that demonstrate the success or failure of the processes you want to optimize.

Prepare for negative feedback

You will receive negative feedback as well as positive comments. The important thing is that you use all feedback as constructively as possible, so prepare all the employees under review for the possibility of negative feedback and explain how they (and you) can use bad feedback to guide positive development.

Plan your follow-up

Know on the way into each survey what you intend to do on your way out. Associate actions with each KPI before you begin, and you’ll be able to act on your insights even faster when you receive the survey data.


Are you having a difficult time engaging your teams? Remember that 360° feedback is a proven strategy that you can use to listen to your employees, cut through disengagement, improve customer experience, nurture leadership and retain top talent.

At Questback we think it’s time employers, HR departments and managers start using 360° to improve employee evaluation and create more productive, more inspiring working environments. Do this, and you’ll start to boost competitive advantage through greater levels of employee engagement.

Considering how competitive markets are today, perhaps you’ll agree that standing out with smarter, happier and more productive teams is one way to beat the competition.

What are your experiences of 360? Find us over on LinkedIn to comment and continue the conversation!

Read more about 360 Feedback Surveys.


Guide for high employee engagement

Find the 4 driving forces of engagement split up into 33 solid methods that you can use to be a better leader and raise your team’s performance.

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