360 personal development review

360 personal development review

At the 6 month point of being in my new role I decided I wanted to try conducting a 360 Personal Development Review (PDR). This is also known as 360 degree appraisal, 360 review or multi-rater feedback.

I first heard of this idea during a senior management meeting and the idea peaked my interest. I really liked the idea of gaining feedback from my new employers, co-workers and managers about how my performance has been so far. I hoped the feedback I received could then be used to improve performance in my role. If the process goes well it would be something that I perform at regular intervals during my career.

You can skip to the results section or 360 process highlight.

It might have already entered your mind that is could be a very painful experience. During the meeting were I first heard about the concept of the 360 PDR there were some comments about the process being very exposing, and putting the individual in a very vulnerable position.

To be honest, I did not have these reservations before I started to conduct my own 360 review.

I want this process to be a way to gain honest feed back which I can use to improve. If this is painful to hear, then so be it.

What is a 360 review?

A 360 degree review aims to provide anonymous feedback on your performance from your work peers.

The 360 degree’s of feedback can consist of the following peer groups:

  • Mangers
  • Stakeholders
  • Team members
  • Staff reporting to you

You may also wish to use target specific levels in your peer groups like senior, junior, cross department etc.

The peer groups can give you feedback on the outputs of your work, your performance or the indirect benefits of your work on the wider company/ organisation.

There are some aspects which a 360 review can cover:

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Analytical skills
  • Problem solving
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Training and Support

Price of 360 review

I have done some research on the topic, and there seems to be companies the offer a 360 PDR’s as a service. I presume this service is valuable if a group of people are taking part, as there needs to be some work on aggregating every participants feedback on every other participant.

To get a rough idea, you can see a price list of services [Archived link]

I am in no way affiliated with this company, the link is provided for your information in pricing only

In my case, I simply wanted to get feedback on my own performance. An externally provided paid service was not necessary. I came up with my own 360 PDR template which I distributed using google sheets.

My 360 PDR Template

The questions I put together where heavily based on the article here with some modifications and tweaks to suit my role as a senior research software engineer. The questions aim gain how I am performing against my peers. I decided to concentrate on the follow topics areas:

  • Results Oriented
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Self-Awareness
  • Open ended questions
Results Oriented
  Don’t know / unsure (too early to tell) Among the bottom 10% Among the bottom third Average Among the leading third Among the leading 10%
focused on the needs of the end user
problem solver
  Don’t know / unsure (too early to tell) Among the bottom 10% Among the bottom third Average Among the leading third Among the leading 10%
Inspires continuous growth and learning in others
Handles conflict in an appropriate manner
Takes initiative to solve problems
Motivates others to reach their goals
  Don’t know / unsure (too early to tell) Among the bottom 10% Among the bottom third Average Among the leading third Among the leading 10%
Receptive and seeks out feedback
Communicates openly and effectively with others
  Don’t know / unsure (too early to tell) Among the bottom 10% Among the bottom third Average Among the leading third Among the leading 10%
Works well in a team
Gives constructive and helpful feedback
Treats others with respect
Responds constructively to the mistakes of others
Is open to change and innovation
  Don’t know / unsure (too early to tell) Among the bottom 10% Among the bottom third Average Among the leading third Among the leading 10%
Controls behaviour in high-pressure situations
Is highly ethical
Acts professionally
Learns from their mistakes
Open ended questions
  • Share an example of what I do well?
  • Share an example of what I could improve?

How I collected anonymous feedback?

Sending out email with a set of questions was not going to get me the anonymous and honest feedback I wished to gain from this experience.

I developed my 360 PDR template which I mocked up and distributed using google sheets.

I made sure this was anonymous, so I could not tell who had answered what questions.

I also made sure to communicate the fact of anonymity when I sent out an email to each of my peers to complete the review form. In the hope this would gain honest feedback.

The statement I attached to my forms was as follows:

“As part of my personal development review (PDR) I seek honest feedback on my performance in my role. I have created the following form to gain your anonymous responses which will help shape my PDR and my improvement.”

The email that I sent out was as follow:

” I would like to conduct a 360 Personal Development Review (PDR) to get an understanding of my performance and highlight areas of improvement.

I have put together a set of questions and I would like to collect your anonymous responses.

If you have time, I would really appreciate it if you could take some time to fill out these questions as honestly as possible. If you can only answer a few questions, that will still be a great help. “

Results from Feedback

I used the results from the survey I sent out to summarised my performance over the past 6 months based on feedback. I had a 54% response rate. In hindsight, I should have sent a few follow up email reminders instead of just a single email.

For each of the multiple choice questions, I decided to assign scores to responses using the table below.

Answer categories with score

Answer Score  
Don’t know 0 0
bottom 10% 0.1 10
bottom third 0.25 25
Average 0.5 50
leading third 0.75 75
leading 10% 0.9 90

I should have given more thought to this before I created and sent out the survey. I would have improved the answer categories.

The downloaded csv file of responses needed some additional thought and processing to turn into meaningful results.

I actually used a find replace to help generate the statistics

I have provided a summary of the open questions that respondents commented on:

Examples of what I do well:

  • Listen
  • Fresh ideas
  • Calm
  • Understand problems
  • Open & honest
  • Informative
  • Strives to improve team

Examples of what I could improve:

  • Take a break
  • Get to more of department
  • Deadlines
  • Knowledge of systems

What did the 360 PDR process highlight?

The process of conducting a 360 appraisal can be quite scary at first. Exposing yourself to open and anonymous feedback from your peers was a bit daunting at first.

One outcome that I did not expect was that I would become a more self conscious about characteristics which I was rated as average performance. This has made me think a bit too much about this aspect, and has maybe make me much less confident. This has highlighted that I need to take time to improve this particular characteristic.

Another aspects that I have learnt from conducting this 360 degree feedback process was that I don’t think I am too great at reflecting and acknowledging what has gone going well. I find it much easier to reflect back on aspects that need improvement.


The work above relies heavily on the work of others. I have linked to some of the most helpful resources I used during this process below.

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