360 degree feedback exercises can often be misunderstood, or not used to their full potential if the right support and communication is not embedded from the start of the process. We help organisations deliver effective 360s across the public, not for profit and education sectors with clarity, buy in and success.

The guide below clarifies the varying uses, best practice and impact of this kind of assessment, and how our system can be quickly and cost-effectively deployed with much more wraparound support than other providers.

Most frequently asked questions are answered in detail in this guide, but for more information about our 360° Feedback System, and how it can be made bespoke to your organisation, please get in touch.

What is 360 feedback?

It’s a process where colleagues and other stakeholders (internal or external) give feedback about the people they work with. The term 360 degree feedback means ‘all around’. You get feedback from: 

  • your peers  
  • people who report to you  
  • people you report to  
  • and other relevant groups as well, which might include external stakeholders.  

Our 360 degree feedback system builds your leaders’ skills in a focused way, be it through enhancing individual self awareness, coaching and development, or providing an organisational view of the group strengths and risks of your leadership population.  

Our user friendly platform, developed with the latest features and technology, is highly configurable to provide a seamless 360° feedback experience for participants, and valuable organisational level insights to support your ongoing talent, recruitment and development plans. 

When should 360 degree feedback be used?

How does your team measure up when benchmarked against some of the critical behaviours needed to create positive change? As a leadership unit, where does your ‘bright side’ lay and what are the darker side characteristics to watch out for? These are all questions that can be answered by coming through a 360 degree process. 

Organisations use 360 feedback for individual development planning, coaching and supporting progression. It can also be used to make decisions on: 

  • development for a particular group  
  • plan effective development programmes 
  • or, to audit people at a similar level across an organisation, to support succession or development planning for example. 

360 gives feedback on key competencies and skills that are essential for individual and organisational success. This is especially useful when competencies or expectations have recently changed. It helps people get insight into how they’re seen as performing and where they benchmarkIt’s also a helpful audit tool to look at the trends within organisations. This shows strengths and risks and how these need to be addressed.  

What is the impact of using 360 degree feedback?

Gartner research has also shown that initiatives, such as 360, that help leaders have greater self-awareness and understand their strengths and weaknesses in context led to uplifts in individual and team performance as well as engagement levels.


With 60% of HR Leaders* citing ‘Leader & Manager Effectiveness’ as a critical area of focus for them, understanding the key strengths, skills and development needs of public service leaders is clearly key to organisational success. 

How is 360 degree feedback measured?

360-degree feedback can be numerical, with simple ratings. But we recommend including free-text options for more detailed explanations. The results, and the reasons behind them, can spark broader conversations. They also foster a deeper understanding of perceived strengths and areas for development. 

You can also implement benchmarks, either from within the organisation or other similar organisations / roles, to help individuals see how they compare to their peers.

Our market-leading 360 system

How is the GatenbySanderson 360 system different to others?

The GatenbySanderson 360° is available with a prepopulated model of behavioural excellence in the public and not for profit sectors, ‘Altitude’, or it can be populated with your own behavioural framework content. 

GatenbySanderson’s Altitude model has been created from extensive and continuous research of over 5000 senior public and not for profit leaders to determine and benchmark what behavioural excellence looks like for leaders in these sectors. 

The model consists of 12 behaviours clustered into three areas: Focus on Self, Focus on People, Focus on Outcomes. Each behaviour has indicators at 4 levels allowing for differentiated content for different levels of individual if appropriate.  

It offers a unique opportunity to help your leaders (and future leaders) hone and adapt their behaviours by gathering feedback from key stakeholders about their performance against key criteria that will impact their leadership success. The model can be mapped to your own frameworks to ensure that the behaviours that are most important in leaders within your own organisation form the key focus of the feedback process. 

No one else has such insight into leadership success in the public sector. It means our clients can adapt the 360 feedback to their organisations but also consider the wider public sector landscape.

How flexible is the system?

Our 360 degree feedback system offers market leading flexibility. We can build a completely bespoke model, to reflect your own values and behavioural frameworks.  Or use our standard model if the content doesn’t yet exist.  

Here are some of other the ways we’ve built flexibility into our system: 

Fully tailorable question content: Gather feedback based on our Altitude leadership model, your own model or a blend of the two; add or remove questions to create a fully tailored solution to ensure you cover the critical behaviours relating to your strategy. 

Use different question types (for example add free text inputs at any point in the 360°).  

Fully tailorable rating scales and rating scale descriptions.  

Define the contributor categories that make sense for participants to gather feedback from in your organisation, name specific internal and external stakeholder groups so that your employees understand how they are perceived by different groups. 

Contributor nominations: Allow individuals to nominate their own contributors (with minimum numbers preset), or predefine them and our managed service will upload them to the system for you. 

Fully tailorable email content as standard, aligning all communications with your key organisational messages. Different email content can be used for participants and their contributors to ensure clarity of messaging, and greater detail for those who need it. 

Reminder emails can be sent on a schedule or as and when required, to maximise completion rates. 

Flexible branding options; from the addition of logos and colour schemes through to full branding. We can embed videos or images to set the context and enhance the link to your own organisational branding and processes. 

A choice of reports and the option to tailor them ensures that the outputs received by your employees are perfectly suited to enhancing self awareness and development. 

Reports available with or without cohort benchmarks. 

Add specific ‘biodata’ questions to support the organisational level analysis that meets your strategic needs (i.e. to enable comparisons by role/ grade/department/any other factors specific to your organisation). 

How quickly can a 360 be set up?

Our user friendly platform, developed with the latest features and technology, is immediately deployable and highly configurable to provide a seamless 360° feedback experience for participants, and valuable organisational level insights to support your ongoing talent, recruitment and development plans. 

How much time and resource will it take to deliver?

We offer wraparound support including administration and co-ordination of setting up the project, communicating with participants and ensuring it runs smoothly. We give regular updates and agreed intervals and you can be as involved as you wish. 

Available online 24/7 via a personal dashboard. To make gathering information easy, we optimize this for mobiles and tablets, so busy reviewers can complete when away from their desks.     

Everyone gets their own dashboard and password. This is helpful for large organisations running many 360 reviews. An individual might receive multiple requests to complete feedback. When they log in, they will see exactly what feedback is outstanding and for whom 

We will work with you to determine whether to stagger or split cohorts and the best time to launch aligned to your organisation’s needs. For some, this means a fast deployment to give up front feedback ahead of a major change programme. 

How much does a 360 cost?

We deliver one of the most cost-effective solutions on the market. No need to pay an expensive licence fee: our published setup and per participant rates include a fully managed service, maintenance and support costs, with no limits on the number of contributors per participant. 

Specialist support is offered via email and telephone as standard to all those completing the tool. 

How can you ensure people complete the 360?

Our 360 degree feedback system utilises the latest technology and is enabled and optimised for all mobile / tablet devices; 24 hour online access enables busy stakeholders to provide feedback anonymously at a time that suits them. Confirmation emails ensure confidence in those taking part that their responses have been submitted. 

How secure is your system?

Our password-protected online dashboard removes the risks of emailing out sensitive personal reports and providing convenient access and safe storage of reports for future reference. We provide unique, secure GDPR compliant delivery of reports to participants through the dashboard. All data is stored in the UK and we are fully ISO compliant. 

The GatenbySanderson 360 degree feedback system is also available through the cloud software and services framework ‘GCloud’ on the Government’s digital marketplace.

How do you mitigate bias?

Our team has a vast amount of experience in designing psychometrics and surveys‘We can review a client’s proposed 360 items to help minimise the risk of bias or easily misunderstood questions. 

How scalable is the system?

We can offer this for one or two people at a time, or it can be for a large cohort as part of a programme. If it needs to be rolled out more widely, it’s simple to scale it up. 

Other FAQs about 360 degree feedback

Is 360 feedback anonymous? 

People giving feedback are often concerned about their anonymity, especially if they are being asked to give feedback on their manager or someone more senior. A well-designed 360 will be completely anonymous to allow open sharing of feedback. 

With our 360 system, anonymity of those giving feedback is guaranteed through automated combining of categories when numbers in a given contributor group are so low that individual feedback may be identifiable. The dashboard also shares individual reports securely and directly with the individual and all feedback is anonymised.  

We also help clients with communication strategies when introducing 360 feedback to their organisation. We also structure the questionnaire to guide those giving feedback through these concerns. 

Our advice is to be open with everyone involved in advance. Tell them what the process is. Tell them why 360 is being used and clarify confidentiality, including letting participants know who will see their reports.  And tell them what the benefits are to them. We can support you in communicating this to both those giving and those receiving feedback. 

How often should 360 degree feedback be used?

For individuals, we recommend 360 feedback takes place when someone has been in the role for 6 months or longer. That’s enough time to get their feet under the table and for their colleagues to experience how they operate and give some meaningful feedback.   

An annual review can be helpful to see any shifts or changes to enhance particular areas. It should be part of the broader conversation to help assess somebody’s performance. And, used in combination with other tools (such as psychometric profiling), 360 feedback is a tool that supports broader understanding of someone’s continuing development journey when combined with other data.   

You can also use 360 at the start and end of a development programme for a leadership cohort to evaluate shifts in behaviour and skill as a result of the interventions.  This can be particularly helpful when showing return on investment and impact. 

How is 360 feedback used to create a leadership benchmark?

360s set a useful benchmark for an organisation’s leaders based on expected organisation behaviours and skills. When organisational strategy or mission changes, the behaviours required for optimum performance often shift as well. Having something to measure against in this scenario is important. It allows organisations to track how leaders are adapting to the change in expectations. It can also help the organisation track where the key learning and development focus areas for the organisation are. 

Benchmarking against skills or behaviours creates a common language and pathway for the development of leaders. It also gives a clear picture of individuals’ strengths and gaps in leadership needs. Organisations who then invest in developing these can create successful leadership populations. Often nurturing that leadership population from within. 

But if hiring leaders from outside it can also form a good part of the onboarding process. It gives clarity on expected behaviours, leadership culture and where their own strengths and development needs lie. 

Our 360 degree system has the option to enable individuals to see how they compare to their peers, with benchmark scores available as an option in reports 

How can 360 feedback help Senior Leadership and Top Teams?

360 feedback is especially effective when used with a whole senior leadership team.  

We often run Top Team Workshops using 360 reviews combined with psychometric profiling. This gives each individual some insight into their own strengths and development needs; a developmental feedback session exploring insights from both tools can help them plan their personal development focus. The whole leadership team then comes together to explore the overall leadership team’s trends and views of their strengths and development areas, drawing from the psychometrics (how they see themselves/their potential) and the 360 (how others see them/what is happening in practice).  This can also help identify any gaps to consider when recruiting new team members. 

In these workshops, we look at how individual strengths can be used to support other team members. We can also help the team explore key areas they need to consider together. For example, how others in the organisation see them as a group.

How should organisations prepare for 360 feedback?

Some public sector organisations may have concerns about introducing 360 feedback, especially if there isn’t a feedback culture in the organisation. With clear communication up front, it should be a positive experience for all involved. We work with you to prepare an internal communications plan. We help explain the process and reassure stakeholders of the benefits to all.  

This reassurance continues throughout the process and extends right through to sharing and interpreting the results. 

What happens after a 360 feedback review?

As a minimum, everyone gets their individual report with an overview of how to use it. But best practice is to have a facilitated conversation about the report. This should support the person receiving the feedback in exploring the results without fear or judgment.  

We’ve found it most helpful to give independent insight. It supports the person to reflect and consider the implications and stops them from ignoring useful feedback that they may initially find difficult to take on board. We offer experienced psychologists and coaches to have those supportive and beneficial conversations.  

How else are 360 feedback results used?

We can create aggregated data for your organisation. This helps explore key trends in your workforce.  This is usually planned upfront when designing your 360 project. We build in questions that draw out areas where trend insights would be helpful, such as: 


  • understanding differences in departments 
  • understanding differences in technical specialism 
  • understanding differences in location 
  • Understanding the wider trends can help organisations plan how to support existing leaders. It can also help in succession planning and identifying the skills and attributes they are looking for in new recruits.     

What is 360 degree feedback in coaching?

The perceptions of others might not always tally with your own and 360 feedback can reveal a gap. 360 feedback also helps you identify or confirm your strengths and development areas. In a coaching conversation, you can talk through what lower ratings mean. For example, it might be that you can or are doing something but you’re not communicating it well, so others don’t realise. Your coach should help you find ways to make this more visible to your team and stakeholders.  

A coach can also help you explore how to enhance your strengths further. They can help you reflect on where you can make the most impact and leverage your strengths to improve the gaps you need to fill.  

We offer coaching to all our 360 clients if they don’t have an internal coaching program. 

Our 360 feedback credentials

The GatenbySanderson Leadership & Talent Consultancy team comprises Occupational Psychologists and Learning & Organisational Development specialists delivering leadership and talent solutions. The team includes experts who are experienced in the design of bespoke assessments and development diagnostics, including 360° feedback questionnaires. 

Interested in our 360 degree feedback approach?

Complete the form below to receive a copy of our 360 feedback digital brochure and one of the team will be in touch to organise a call to have a conversation about how we can help your organisation use 360 feedback effectively:

What areas of Leadership & Talent Assessment are you most interested in?


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