Benefits of 360 Assessments Across the Deployment Lifecycle

Written by Peggy Parskey, Principal Consultant, Explorance.

Employee analyzing charts


The skills gap has been a source of concern for the HR community for at least five years. In 2019, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), published a report about the global skills shortage in which they noted that “among HR professionals, 75% of those having recruiting difficulty say there is a shortage of skills in candidates for job openings.”  After competition from other employers, the next two most cited reasons were candidates not having the needed experience (36%) and candidates lacking the right technical skills (35%). The pandemic and global shutdowns only exacerbated the problem. A study by Wiley University Services, published in March 2023, found that 69% of employers reported skills gaps compared to 55% in 2021.

The solutions to address the gap fall into three major categories: 1) Minimize the problem by retaining top talent with the desired skills, 2) hire external talent where the gaps are large and 3) close the gaps by expanding training offerings. While these remedies make sense, they assume that employers can identify what gaps they have and where they reside, when in fact, research data suggests neither of those conditions is true.

Enter 360 assessments which provide a myriad of benefits to the organization. One of the most significant is that 360’s provide a comprehensive view of an individual’s performance from multiple perspectives. This feedback helps identify specific skills gaps by highlighting areas where an individual may be lacking in competence or effectiveness. By pinpointing these gaps, organizations can gain clarity on the specific skills that their employees should develop or improve at the individual, team, and organization level.

Before diving into the benefits of the 360 assessment process, it’s important to understand its fundamental purpose. At its core, a 360 assessment process promotes self-reflection, self-awareness, and continuous improvement. It goes beyond the traditional top-down approach of performance evaluations, allowing individuals to receive feedback from their supervisors, peers, and subordinates. This multi-dimensional feedback not only offers a more holistic view of an employee’s capabilities but also uncovers blind spots and areas for development that may have gone unnoticed.

The 360 assessment process provides significant benefits across the process lifecycle, beginning with the planning, through deployment, action planning and day to day use of the insights. Throughout this blog, we will delve into each stage of the 360 assessment process and explore the specific benefits it brings to individuals, teams, and organizations. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of these advantages, you will be equipped with the knowledge to leverage the power of a 360 assessment process and unlock the potential for growth across the organization.

The Planning Stage of 360 Assessments

The planning stage of the 360 assessment process establishes the foundation for the development journey that lies ahead. It is during this stage that the senior leaders not only establish the 360 process (including rater selection and assessment completion) but also clarify and communicate their purpose and objectives.

For individuals, communication about the upcoming process helps ratees to make decisions about who can and should provide meaningful developmental feedback and launches the process of reflection and self-awareness that are the hallmarks of the 360 process.

In addition, the 360 assessment process helps align individual aspirations with the strategic objectives of the organization. By identifying individual strengths and areas for improvement, organizations can provide targeted development opportunities that contribute to both personal and organizational growth. This alignment ensures that the efforts of individuals align with the larger goals of the organization, fostering a sense of purpose and shared vision.

For teams, an impending 360 process is a catalyst for meaningful discussions. The May 2023 issue of TD Magazine included an article on how teams can conduct their own 360 assessments to “build a picture of team effectiveness,” including assessment of alignment, performance, relationships, reputation, and values. These upfront discussions promote open and honest discussions about how the team can achieve collective goals.

For the organization, senior leaders have an opportunity to leverage 360’s to cultivate a feedback culture. By encouraging individuals to provide feedback to their peers, supervisors, and subordinates, it promotes open communication channels and establishes a climate of continuous improvement. This creates a supportive environment where feedback becomes a constructive tool for growth and development. Finally, senior leaders can leverage this process to establish clear expectations for the specific roles being assessed including the core capabilities and observable behaviors that leaders expect of their employees.

During Deployment

The deployment stage provides opportunities to reap benefits. For organizations who leverage 360 assessments to promote a feedback culture, the deployment phase can create shared accountability for participating in the process and providing meaningful feedback. Moreover, for raters, the system can insert nudges into the assessment completion process to minimize score inflation and/or ratings with minimal nuance in the scores.

Debrief and Analysis

The completion of the 360 assessment process marks the beginning of a new phase, where the benefits gained during and prior to the assessment continue to unfold and catalyze growth. Let’s explore the advantages that individuals, teams, and organizations can expect to experience after the 360 assessment process.

Armed with the insights gained from the 360 assessment process, individuals are now empowered to embark on a journey of personal growth and development. By leveraging their newfound self-awareness and understanding of their strengths and areas for improvement, individuals can proactively seek opportunities to enhance their skills, knowledge, and effectiveness. This commitment to ongoing development fuels continuous improvement and personal success.

The 360 assessment process plays a vital role in boosting individuals’ self-confidence. Validating their strengths and acknowledging their growth areas, the process offers a solid foundation for individuals to build upon. Armed with a clearer understanding of their capabilities, individuals gain the confidence to take on new challenges, embrace responsibilities, and make meaningful contributions to their teams and organizations.

The insights gained from the 360 assessment process can also have a positive impact on team dynamics. With a deeper understanding of each other’s strengths, growth areas, and working styles, team members can foster a climate of trust, respect, and collaboration. This synergy leads to improved communication, enhanced problem-solving, and increased overall team performance.

The feedback obtained from the 360 assessment process guides teams in identifying specific areas for development. Armed with this knowledge, teams can design targeted development initiatives and training programs to address skill gaps, enhance competencies, and maximize their collective potential. This focused approach to team development leads to improved teamwork, higher productivity, and the achievement of shared goals.

Finally, the 360 assessment process serves as a catalyst for creating a learning organization. By promoting a culture of continuous improvement and feedback, organizations foster an environment where individuals regularly share knowledge, exchange best practices, and learn from each other’s experiences. This collective learning contributes to the organization’s adaptability, innovation, and long-term success.

The insights gained from the 360 assessment process also provide organizations with valuable data for making strategic decisions. By identifying organizational strengths and weaknesses, leaders can align resources, allocate budgets, and develop targeted initiatives that drive performance improvement. The data obtained can inform talent management strategies, succession planning, and the identification of high-potential individuals, ensuring that the organization is equipped with the right talent to achieve its strategic objectives.

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The 360 assessment process stands as a powerful catalyst for growth and success, offering a multitude of benefits to individuals, teams, and organizations. Throughout this journey, we have explored the advantages that unfold before, during, and after the assessment process, highlighting the transformative impact it can have at every stage.

For individuals, the 360 assessment process provides a pathway to self-reflection, goal setting, and personal development leading to personal growth, increased self-confidence, and a continuous commitment to excellence.

Within teams, the 360 assessment process fosters trust, transparency, and collaboration, cultivating stronger team dynamics, improved collaboration, and ultimately, elevated team performance.

At the organizational level, the 360 assessment process drives the creation of a feedback culture and the alignment of individual and organizational goals. The insights gained from the assessment process guide strategic decision-making, talent development, and the identification of areas for improvement, resulting in enhanced organizational effectiveness and sustained success.

The benefits of the 360 assessment process extend far beyond its completion. Individuals experience ongoing personal growth and enhanced self-confidence, while teams enjoy improved dynamics and targeted development. Organizations thrive as they foster a learning culture and make strategic decisions based on the insights gained. By embracing the long-term impact of the 360 assessment process, individuals, teams, and organizations set themselves up for sustained growth, success, and excellence.


360 Assessment Use Cases

Financial Services Firm

  • What: Implemented a full 360 assessment for the 45-member executive team
  • How: Leveraged Explorance’s leadership item bank and consulting expertise to design an assessment instrument aligned with its core values and areas critical to growth. Used the Explorance Blue platform for rater selection, assessment, individual and aggregate reporting
  • How they managed the change process: before, during and after
    • Before: Regular involvement of key stakeholders to ensure alignment of the approach with business priorities, communication and expectation setting by the CEO
    • During: Continuous follow up to ensure a high and meaningful response rate
    • After: HR Business partner conducted 1:1 coaching with each executive; developed resources for targeted development, develop training courses and identified relevant resources from LinkedIn learning; created campaign and published statistics on leader involvement
  • Key benefits: Recognition of the importance of this type of structure feedback; Significant growth in most leaders; CEO has improved how he recognizes and supports his executive team


Industrial Manufacturing Firm

  • What: Implemented a full 360 for all leaders in the organization (supervisors, managers, directors, and executives)
  • How: Designed a custom 360 assessment; leveraged Explorance consulting expertise to hone the assessment instrument and the Explorance Blue platform for rater selection, assessment, individual and aggregate reporting
  • How they managed the change process before, during and after
    • Before: Integrated the 360 process into their strategic leadership development process; extensive communication about the process and roles of the leader and HR; co-developed and implemented with Explorance, an extensive coach certification process to ensure
    • During: Delegated response rate nudging to the leader leveraging Blue functionality
    • After: 1:1 360 debrief with trained and certified HR practitioner
  • Key benefits: Trained cadre of HR 360 debrief coaches to ensure high quality insights from the process

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