How to get the most out of the 360-degree feedback session


This document is intended to provide a simple to follow guide for those people who are not professional coaches but who are required to de-brief individuals about their 360 degree appraisal reports. It covers the preparation in terms of mind-set, the in-session delivery in respect to choice of language and approach and the follow up process to the de-brief session.

Facilitating 360-degree feedback session

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, to facilitate can be defined as: ‘to make easier or less difficult, to help forward, to assist the progress of’. The person giving feedback on 360-degree reports is the facilitator whose role is to help the individual understand the headlines of their report. Once the individual has clarity on the key behaviour indicators it is the facilitator’s task to assist them in identifying an agreed development pathway in order to maximise strengths, leverage hidden strengths and improve areas that require further development.

360 degree feedback reports can be fairly detailed and extensive; therefore it is worth considering splitting the feedback session into two or three chunks.


Grid of information categories produced by 360-degree feedback report



Facilitating 360-degree feedback requires the full range of facilitating skills; the feedback can be detailed and extensive. The skills required are similar to the data handling techniques involved in facilitating meetings. The ability to draw lessons from an extensive amount of detail, prioritising and formulating a firm action plan may be what is required.   Furthermore the feedback can be surprising and occasionally unpalatable which can produce a variety of emotions, which the facilitator must help the individual to deal with. Therefore clarity of explanation and some sensitivity in the approach is required.

It is important to set aside your personal biases about the individual and to be open to hearing their point of view. Find a way of presenting and responding to the facts within the report rather than interjecting with your own opinions. We suggest that you could use the following four step feedback model:



Four step feedback model for facilitator and individual



Step One – Present the information from the 360 degree report

Before the session as the facilitator you need to read and identify items of significance from the report. Look for strong consistencies and inconsistencies. Identify if there are areas of particular strengths and development needs. Are there marked differences between the respondent groups? What questions does the report raise? Can you see inconsistencies and are there patterns occurring? How accurate is the individual’s self-perception? Are there marked gaps between their perceptions and the 360 group as a whole? Increasing self-awareness in order to change behaviours is a key aim of 360 appraisals and so this is an important element of the preparation.

Don’t worry if there are things that you are unable to explain. It is not the facilitator’s job to explain them, but rather to formulate questions that may help you and the individual gain full understanding. The presenting step of the model is for the facilitator to present the facts / data from the 360 report in a non-judgmental and open way. As facilitator you are not the interpreter, you do not have to fully understand the report and explain it all to the individual. The role of the facilitator is to help the individual by asking them questions which help them reach their own clear understanding. During the feedback session ensure that you use language, which clearly puts you in the facilitator role. Instead of saying: “I believe”, use terms like: “the report is telling us”, “it looks like”, “this data suggests” etc.

In preparation for the session, think about how you can sandwich feedback: positive, negative, positive. Example: “The data shows that you are a very strong communicator with the Direct Reports group, whilst with the Peers group the report suggests that you are much less strong; however if we look at your Self view it’s an area where you are confident as a strong communicator. What do you think is affecting the differing view of these groups?”

Step Two – Clarify

Often in deciphering a 360 degree feedback report the individual has a tendancy to focus on their delevelopment needs rather than their strengths. As the facilitator it is important to spend as much time as possible to focus on the individual’s strengths and hidden strengths using open questions and an appreciative inquiry.

Examples of open questions: What were the main positives or highlights of the report for you? Were there any surprises or responses you found difficult to put into context? If this was someone else’s report what would you tell them the key learning points were for them to take away? These questions will help you understand how much the individual has taken on board. At this stage you are not trying to put a development plan in place but the objective is to gain clarity on the aspects of the report the individual wants and needs to focus on for further development.


In brief, appreciative inquiry means shifting the focus off what isn’t working to what is. It’s looking to further leverage and develop the strengths, to build confidence and a positive mindset, both of which will help minimise the impact of any weaknesses.

Prior to your session try to pull out all the positives, even if they are limited. Think about the questions you can ask to help the individual understand what is working for them, in what environment and in what situations they are performing at their best.

Step Three – Influence and agree

There may be some feedback in the report which the individual does not recognise or agree with. As the facilitator you can ask open questions which help them to recognise that not everyone sees the world in the same way and thus they may not recognise certain behaviour that others have frequently seen in them. For example a good open question would be: “Can you think of any examples where others such as friends or family have made similar remarks?” We all have blind spots and that is completely normal.

The Johari Window is a communication model that is used to improve understanding between individuals. The word “Johari” is taken from the names of Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, who developed the model in 1955.



Johari Window


There are two key ideas behind the tool:

  1. That you can build trust with others by being more open and sharing information about yourself.
  2. That, with the help of feedback from others, you can develop higher levels of self-awareness

The Quadrants explained:

  1. Open Area (Quadrant 1)

This quadrant represents the things that an individual knows about themselves and the things known by others. This includes behaviour, knowledge, skills and attitudes. For example: “every year I am happy to present at the national sales conference because I enjoy being on the stage and others tell me I am good at it.”

  1. Blind Area (Quadrant 2)

This quadrant represents things an individual is unaware of, but are known by others. An example: “I insist we have all the numbers right and in detail, all the time.” Instead of seeing this person as compliant others may say this person as suspicious and untrusting.

  1. Hidden Area (Quadrant 3)

This quadrant represents things that you know about yourself, but that others don’t know. For example: “people should know not to break promises, if someone breaks a promise I won’t trust them again.” If others don’t know this value they may be confused when they are suddenly mistrusted by this person.

  1. Unknown Area (Quadrant 4)

This last quadrant represents things that are unknown by you, and are unknown by others. For example if you have never played tennis whether you have a talent for it or not is unknown.

The 360 degree feedback report will facilitate a larger Open Area which is the most important quadrant, as, generally, the more your people know about each other, the more effective they’ll be when working together.

As people provide feedback through the 360 report, the Open Area expands horizontally, and the Blind Area gets smaller.

Use: what, who, where, when and how questions, try to limit the use of why as it is more challenging, an example “why do you think this group have responded in this way?” instead use: “what do you believe has elicited this response?” or “what in your view could explain the differences in feedback against this skill across these groups?”

The objective of your questions is for you the facilitator and the individual to gain clarity and understanding of the report.

Step Four – Coach

It is essential that the individual determines their areas for further development and coaching. The table of information categories provides a useful template for the individual to sketch out the areas for further focus and development.

This may be a good time in the process to ask the individual to take a few days to consider the report and decide which areas they would like to discuss at a future session; with either you as the facilitator or perhaps if you are just running one session perhaps with their manager acting as coach.

We recommend that the individual uses the Table of information categories to capture the areas for development. It is important to use this opportunity to focus on areas of strength that can be further leveraged as well as areas for improvement. Ask them to prioritise each identified skill or behaviour change by scoring them on a scale from 1 – 10, with 10 being the most important thing to work on. This will provide an excellent working document for coaching.



Grid of information categories produced by 360-degree feedback reports



If there is a gap of a few days or more before the initial de-brief and the coaching session, ensure you start your session with an overview outlining the purpose of this session, to ensure you and the individual are on the same page.

Ask the individual open questions such as: “how did they feel about completing the grid? And “are there any areas that they would like to discuss before getting into the detail?” Your inflection should indicate curiosity, not a desire to educate or lead the conversation. The objective at the beginning of the session is to establish a relaxed and open environment, to help you and the individual develop a curious minded approach. Try to avoid solution mode at this stage; this will ensure you can both be more creative in finding effective development pathways and solutions. The danger of generating solutions at this stage is that you will just fall back on old pathways, and “if you only do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always got.”

Ideally the Coaching session should run in the following way: Establish contract, Explore, Clarify, Plan as follows:

  • Establish Contract

Establish safe open-minded environment by contracting for the session. Contracting will incorporate some of the following: is the session completely confidential?, if not what information needs to be shared and with whom?; it is the individual’s session, you are there to facilitate and assist them to get the most out of the session. Are there any concerns that they would like to mention or deal with before starting the session? What needs to happen for them to feel the session has been useful?

  • Explore

Ask the individual to talk you through the table they have completed. Once they have outlined their thinking behind the table you could ask questions like; how can I be helpful so you get the most out of this session? Are there particular areas you would like to explore? It would be good to hear how you have prioritised your areas for development?

All the time you are coaching you need to be aware of your individual’s communication style. For instance if they are very direct and not a lateral thinker asking “are there any particular areas you would like to explore” may just get a straight no. If you believe there are areas to explore you will need to ask this type of individual a different type of question like “I see you have made this development area a 10, if you achieve this impact do you think it will have on you or your team?”

Here is a list of explore questions:

  • If you develop these skills how do you think things will improve for you personally?
  • If you achieve this change what impact do you think it will have on you or your team?
  • How will others notice that you have made changes or improvements and who will notice?
  • Who will be able to help you make these changes?
  • How can you track your progress?
  • How realistic are your ambitions for change given your current commitments?
  • How will the changes impact on others?
  • How real are the changes for you, can you visualise your future self?
  • You’ve rated each thing by importance, can you see any that will be easy to implement?
  • What may get in the way of you making these changes?
  • How can you reduce the possibility of being de-railed?


The aim of all these questions is to open up a discussion that brings more clarity, reality and commitment to the change process. Whilst it is ok to provide the individual with some solutions, try to keep your input to a minimum. Give them time to respond and to find solutions for themselves. There is likely to be more commitment to change if the ideas come from them rather than the facilitator.

  • Clarify

Clarifying is summarising the key take-outs from the explore section. The objective of the clarify stage is to help the individual establish their clear goals.

It is important to emphasise that you are working towards the goals of the individual; your language should exemplify this fact. Therefore you could use the following opening to this section to clarify the key take-outs for development: “Ok so if I summarise back to you what you have outlined to me as your goals, have I captured            everything or is there something you would like to add?” or “Now you have heard the summary is there anything you would like to change? or are you happy to move on to the planning stage?”


            You can use the same Grid of information format to capture the key agreed focused  areas:


It is important that both development areas and strengths are captured to help them to leverage strengths, while working on the areas for development.

  • Plan

The objective of this section is to help the individual map out the pathways to achieving their agreed goals. It is important to work to set timelines and ensure there are feedback loops in place to help them stay on track.

The following template can be used to map goals and agreed pathways for the Plan element :


Template to map goals and pathways

Goal By when Who will benefit from the change How will they know the change has occurred Help


Help What Help When How confident am I of effecting the change

1 – 10

What needs to happen to improve that score Re-score

1 – 10

Agreed feedback loop
Improve clarity and take outs from briefings June 2016 Half year briefing My immediate team Adhoc feedback after the session Line manager 10 minute practice sessions Monthly 1-2-1s 9 Ensure I always get the 10 min practice 10 Nominate one tam member to feedback on this specific skill after every briefing



We hope this document helps you to get the most out of your 360-degree feedback report de-brief process. How you decide to manage this process will depend upon your specific needs and resources. You may cover some or all of this process in a single session or over a number of sessions and you may decide to pick up on some of the ideas and use some or all of the tools discussed. It’s up to you.

It’s sometimes useful to involve different people for different elements of the feedback and coaching and it may be appropriate to involve a professional coach or facilitator. It may be the responsibility of L&D staff to facilitate the entire process but it can also be a good idea to get line management involved after the initial de-briefs to engage with further development planning.

However you decide to manage the process our counsel to you when you commission the 360 appraisal is that you plan through in advance how you are going to use the process to make real behavioural change and impact in your organisation.

We are happy to add value by providing best practice advice on your questionnaire and report content, the set-up, process implementation and individual de-briefing of your 360 project. Feel free to ask us if you would like any further discussion or support or if you would like advice about engaging independent, third party professional facilitators and coaches.


SurveyShack provides 360 appraisal solutions to global brands, SME’s, independent professional facilitators and coaches. We offer either a managed service or an online self-manged 360 appraisal system.

All our solutions are custom to your brand, questionnaire, report content and process. All our systems are fully hosted and supported in the UK, except where law dictates they are hosted in the local country.

We are happy to discuss your project without any obligation and are always pleased to get involved at the early ideas stage. Please feel free to contact our friendly and experienced team on:


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