A Complete Guide to 360 Evaluation Tools: Finding the Best One for You
Are you over manually-run employee evaluations? And are you trying to decide over a 360 evaluation tool?
Choosing a 360 evaluation tool can be a time-consuming task as there are hundreds of tools out there. And many seem to do the same thing.
But most often, they're either too costly, too messy to use, or simply don't provide the level of insights you need.
Instead, the right employee feedback tools should give business leaders the information they need to improve performance, keep their teams motivated, and reduce employee turnover.
The tools that do just that are out there!
To save you time, we took care of the market research and put together this list of 6 of the best 360 evaluation tools that will finally move the needle.
🔁 What are 360 evaluations?
A 360-degree evaluation is a structured process of collecting actionable feedback from managers, peers, and subordinates or through self-assessment.
This type of evaluation helps employees better understand how others perceive them in their workplace. It also allows them to improve their overall performance and competencies.
You can add 360 evaluations to your company's annual performance reviews or conduct them at any other point as long as you stick to a fixed process.
➡️ Read more on how you can create a powerful 360 feedback system.
🤯 Why is running 360 evaluations challenging? Insights from 7 experts
To get a realistic look at today's most challenging aspects of a 360 evaluation, we talked to a couple of managers and People Operations experts to see how they've been tackling them.
Gauri Manglik, CEO & Co-Founder at Instrumentl, has been dealing with finding a way to make them useful:
"Some of the feedback I've gotten was great, but other times it felt like people were just filling out their forms without really thinking about what they were writing."
She fixed this by making sure that everyone who was participating in her 360s knew why they were doing it and what their role in the process was going to be: "When we were looking at the results together as a group, I made sure that everyone understood how important their feedback was — and how valuable it could be for me as an individual leader."
The core challenge Grace He, People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com, faced was ensuring that the ratings submitted were unbiased and fair:
"To do this, I created multiple smaller groups within the company to gather feedback on the timing of the evaluation period, data collection process and understand if there were any specific areas where ratings may be compromised."
This process allowed her to collect meaningful feedback from employees to adjust biases more effectively: "For instance, when we noticed that employees within a particular division were biased towards certain personalities, we got them involved in creating survey questions which helped us reduce potential bias in reviews."
For Jenny Cairns, Ops Manager at ThePodcastHost, it was challenging to get individuals open to sharing feedback:
"Most companies don't develop a culture of being open to feedback. If that's the case, people can be shocked or defensive (if they suddenly get feedback they perceive as negative.)
What we did was to start to lead by example, across teams. We would openly ask for feedback on a particular situation in our Slack, naming fellow managers who had been prepared for this.
Those managers would give critical feedback, being honest and open. As soon as people see it being done and get some formal structure around the approach, it's so much more normal and natural for them to do it themselves."
Another more pressing challenge that Jess Rodley, Director of Operations of Dialed Labs, noticed is how hard it was to ensure that evaluators feel comfortable sharing their thoughts without fear of retaliation:
"Our team quickly realized that the best way through was taking a proactive approach to address these concerns surrounding confidentiality. We collaborated with external consultants to design the 360-degree feedback survey and ensure that the responses were kept confidential and anonymous. Finally, we created a set of clear guidelines and training for everyone on how to provide constructive feedback in a respectful and professional manner."
Jarir Mallah, HR Specialist at Ling App, has also been dealing with two core challenges:
"1. Managing the logistics of the evaluation: Running a 360 evaluation can be complex and time-consuming. HR departments need to ensure that the process is well-organized, that participants are clear on their roles and responsibilities, and that the process is communicated effectively to all parties involved.
2. Handling sensitive feedback: The feedback loop gathered in a 360 evaluation can be sensitive and potentially hurtful to employees. You need to have an action plan in place for handling this feedback and ensuring that employees are supported throughout the process."
Offering honest and constructive feedback is a common challenge for managers.
For this, Tara Furiani, keynote speaker, former chief people officer, and CEO of Not the HR Lady, recommends an approach that's both unambiguous and direct:
"I give participants clear instructions emphasizing the importance of providing detailed and candid feedback. I don't hold back, nor do I sugarcoat anything. I simply state that the purpose of the evaluation is to help individuals improve and grow and that honest feedback is crucial in achieving that.
But clear instructions alone aren't enough. To create an environment that's safe and confidential, I make it clear that their feedback will be confidential. I also give them specific examples of the kind of feedback that would be most useful. And you know what? It works every time! By being straightforward and creating a safe space for feedback, I'm able to receive more honest and specific feedback from participants. This is invaluable in making the evaluation truly meaningful and useful for leaders."
And what if your colleagues feel the results do not lead to significant changes?
Professor Cameron Conaway has some advice for you:
"While many leaders signal that 'this time will be different' because they'll have ongoing procedures after the 360 evaluation, proactively addressing this doubt and the primary issue can be far more effective.
Being proactive can take many forms, but the key is not to assume all participants have a shared understanding of what it means to give, receive, and process feedback. Even a brief 90-minute workshop on this can ensure all colleagues step into the 360 with their best intention and the skills they need to give excellent feedback and know what to do with the feedback they receive."
🧰 360 Evaluation tools as the solution to your challenges: 5 Key benefits
360 feedback software can relieve some of your admin pressure and comprehensively assess an individual's performance by collecting feedback from multiple sources.
Not to mention the whole process is faster.
With all the extra time on your hands, you can focus on other aspects of your job, while the results will be more accurate than doing everything by hand.
Plus, the more people who give their input on an individual, the more comprehensive a picture you'll get of how they interact with others and meet different job expectations. As a result, you will spot issues sooner and handle them before they become serious problems.
Using software instead of traditional manual processes will also:
- Give you a more accurate and fair evaluations.
- Improve communication and collaboration with your employees.
- Help identify areas that require improvement and add them to employee development plans.
- Address feedback bias.
- Ensure anonymity (especially for peer ratings or upward feedback) by gathering anonymous feedback.
🦾 6 Features you should look out for when selecting your ideal 360 assessment tool
Besides the nice-to-have functionalities like integrating with your favorite tools or allowing for easy reporting, there are six must-have features to watch out for.
Flexibility and customization
You simply need a LOT of flexibility to keep up with potential new challenges or even employee requests.
You may need to adjust deadlines, add new peers after a cycle kicks off, tweaking manager roles, and more. Zavvy has
Advanced anonymity settings
75% of employees are more inclined to share feedback when they can stay anonymous.
So this feature isn't optional if you want your whole team to share their feedback.
You should be able to customize each type of feedback.
For example, peer feedback is anonymous, but sharing manager feedback anonymously would make little sense.
A diversity of templates
Besides survey templates, you should also look into tools that allow you to use templates.
Some 360 evaluation tools offer survey templates, but others go a step further, offering complete feedback cyclesyou can automate and launch in just a few clicks.
Enabling development rather than simply evaluating
Feedback should always reveal employee strengths and provide further opportunities for betterment rather than simply rating employees.
💡 Learn more about developmental vs. evaluative feedback and discover the best approach for your organization.
Enabling diverse and complex insights
Qualitative surveys are great for getting open-ended feedback, while quantitative surveys can help you to gather more specific data.
This mix of data-collection approaches lets you rate employees (if that's your policy) and collect more contextual qualitative insights to help them improve their technical and soft skills.
Empowering employees (through self-reflection)
Look for tools that enable self-evaluation alongside manager and peer reviews. Check out our Complete Guide to the Best Employee Feedback Tools.
Incorporating both will give you a clear look into how employees rate themselves vs. their performance from other perspectives.
🕵️♀️ 6 360 Evaluation tools you should look out for
Best for: People ops leaders looking for a comprehensive tool that can link back feedback and development, plus onboarding features.
Zavvy is a holistic 360 evaluation solution that extends beyond just feedback capabilities.
With Zavvy, employees can turn each feedback point into a concrete action item. This way, the insights gathered from feedback aren't lost along the way.
You can also provide your team with the resources they need to learn new skills or touch up on industry news to motivate them to improve.
The tool doesn't stop at just feedback, though.
Keep your team members engaged with onboarding checklists, learning and development materials, and one-on-one connections from their first day on the job.
As an added bonus, you'll get access to training journeys that teach managers and employees how to give and receive feedback.
Pricing: Zavvy's Feedback & Development plan starts at 7€/user/month and includes the 360 feedback builder, performance reviews, growth plans, and more features to help you turn feedback into results.
You can also opt for a Zavvy Suite plan (starting at 9€/user/month) to add onboarding & training features.
Best for: Designing surveys of all kinds and using them across different departments.
Typeform is an online survey tool that allows you to structure your 360 evaluations as a survey.
You can start with their 360 Degree Feedback template and choose from over 180 questions.
The tool also allows for customization throughout the entire experience, as you can add photos, videos, or extra notes to the questionnaire.
Pricing: For fewer than 100 employees, you can get a Basic plan at 10€/user/month with unlimited questions and surveys. For larger teams or if you want to share the tool with other apartments, you're looking at a cost starting at 55€/month for three users.
Best for: Designing surveys of all kinds and using them across different departments.
Limeade Listening (formerly known as TINYpulse) lets you send various short and anonymous surveys like scale surveys, yes or no surveys, or open-ended ones.
Employees can even leave completely anonymous suggestions on how the company should improve.
The tool comes with an extra recognition module that lets your team show their appreciation for one another through the Cheers for Peers platform.
Pricing: Pricing for the tool is only available upon request. The tool used to cost $5/month/employee, but we expect higher costs now as the company moves towards a sales-led model.
Best for: Optimizing the employee experience for mid-sized and large businesses.
Qualtrics is an experience management platform that lets you create your survey or choose from the various ready-made templates to collect and analyze employee feedback. The tool also supports self-evaluation, allowing managers and other employees to participate actively in their evaluation.
The tool also provides the same level of high-customization options as Typeform does regarding the survey flow and the look and feel of the questionnaire.
Pricing: Qualtrics doesn't display their pricing publicly, so you'll have to contact their sales team first. Yet, past reviews hint at higher costs compared to other similar solutions.
Best for: Sharing real-time feedback and employee recognition.
Reflektive is an employee feedback and recognition app, acting in many ways like Limeade Listening does. You can use it to send performance reviews as often as monthly, organize one-on-ones, and facilitate regular check-ins.
Need to keep your team engaged? This employee feedback software doubles up as a people-nurturing solution.
For instance, you can connect it to your Slack workspace and prompt your employees to celebrate each other's wins.
Pricing: No public pricing is available.
Best for: Having access to a wide collection of survey templates.
Paperform is essentially a Typeform alternative offering different pre-built templates for People Operations Managers.
You'll find a wide variety of templates on employee satisfaction, employee complaints, individual self-evaluation, and more.
Pricing: Their Essentials plan starts from $24/user/month and will cover your needs for up to 1,000 employees/month. You can stick with this plan if you send your surveys across multiple months or scale to a Pro plan at $49/user/month and use it for other departments as well.
➡️ Drive meaningful 360° evaluations with Zavvy
Zavvy makes running 360° evaluations faster and more insightful.
Our holistic platform takes you beyond the feedback stage so you can:
- Keep employee feedback anonymous at all times.
- Drive performance and meaningful development through a comprehensive 360° feedback system.
- Create action items for each feedback point so employees can further develop their skills and improve their performance.
- Shorten time-to-productivity and engage everyone starting with the onboarding process.
- Train your team through social learning, microlearning, and analytics on the progress.
- Facilitate colleague connections through casual meetups, coffee chats, one-on-ones, etc.
- And more!
Ready to use Zavvy with your team? Book a free demo to see how it can change how you gather and use feedback.
What is a 360 evaluation tool?
A 360 evaluation tool is a feedback system that lets employees receive feedback from several different sources. These platforms help employees find areas where they need to improve and provide constructive feedback from their peers and managers.
How do you do a 360-degree evaluation?
A 360-degree evaluation can be organized at regular intervals every year or as part of a performance review process.
You'll need to decide what type of rating system you want to use and ensure you have the right resources to support this process. You should also choose reviewers familiar with every employee's work: managers, colleagues, and even customers.