5 reasons why L&D needs to replace the 360

3 mins

5 reasons why L&D needs to replace the 360

The 360 has become an ever present component of every leadership development program. However, in a time where feedback is a business imperative, we would offer the suggestion that the classic 360 assessment is insufficient as a solution to drive hire performance and develop more capable leaders in the modern work setting.

As shared by several fortune 500 talent executives in our recent webinar “Reinventing the 360”, talent leaders agree there are still many flaws with the 360. It is often difficult to get full participation and apply action to the results. A leader may participate in a 360 once in their career, twice if they are lucky. 360 feedback can be useful at that moment, but the developmental needs of the leader will likely change in less than 6 months.

While the 360 will always be a part of every leadership development program, we propose that a continuous feedback experience creates more opportunities for a robust talent management program.

So why should L&D replace the 360 with continuous feedback in 2022? 

  1. 360 assessment results age quickly
    The 360 only reflects a snapshot in time of a leader’s behavior. As we’ve learned over the past few years, change is the only constant. For feedback to be effective and actionable, it needs to paint a complete picture of one’s behaviors over time, not once every few years. Once leaders receive results, there are few opportunities for additional feedback to understand if they are improving, or if they need additional development.

    Takeaway: Frequent, smaller surveys allow for talent managers to collect more data points about a leader’s behavior. This creates a clearer understanding of how a leader performs before, during, and after any intervention. Leaders need ongoing self-awareness and accountability.


  1. The is 360 isn’t equitable

    As Alexander Schwall, Ph.D. says “Feedback is a gift”.

    Everyone wants feedback, but due to budget constraints, 360s are often gated to a specific population of existing leaders (think VPs, Executives, C-Suite). The incoming generations of leaders expect regular meaningful feedback but may have to wait years to get the same quality of feedback as their managers. Unless feedback programs are deployed equitably across all employees, high potentials will go unrecognized, and development opportunities will be missed. This leads to regrettable loss and turnover.

    Takeaway: Continuous feedback is easy to deploy at all levels of any organization to give everyone the same exposure to feedback and accountability. Retention rates increase when all employees are given access to regular, productive feedback.

  2. 360s are exhausting
    Participating in a 360 often requires a leader to dedicate time and attention to filling out forms. For some leaders, this may take several hours or more out of their tight schedules and be perceived as a burden.

One of the top concerns voiced by the audience in Rhabit’s 360 webinar was how difficult it is to get participants to hit their deadlines to submit their feedback. Survey fatigue means missed deadlines, and can lead to incomplete submissions. If feedback is incomplete, or even worse dishonest, the program can do more harm than good. 

Takeaway: Repackaging 360s from long, time-consuming forms to frequent and small pieces of feedback increases participation. Create a way for 360 feedback to be a regular part of one’s routine rather than an event that requires time out of one’s schedule.

  1. The 360 is a point in time event
    When was the last time you participated in a 360, if ever? Last year? Three years ago? This is far too infrequent for talent teams to have the right data to make strategic decisions. Worse yet, leaders are often left in the dark unknowing if their behaviors meet the needs of their teams or the business. When feedback is infrequent (think annually or longer) too much time is allowed to pass without opportunity for self-correction or training intervention.

    Takeaway: Point-in-time events are great to establish a baseline, but offer very little for leaders to receive relevant feedback in the short and long term. Continuous feedback, when used alongside a 360, empowers leaders to take control of their behavior and make small, frequent corrections to align with the changing needs of the business.

  2. You can’t prove impact with a 360

360s are a great way to understand a leader’s strengths and weaknesses, and to provide a prescriptive development plan. However, as the leader’s behaviors change and feedback ages, it becomes increasingly difficult to prove impact. The data from a 360 is static, losing its value over time. Talent managers can not measure which leaders improve after these engagements, and which stagnate back to the status quo.

Takeaway: Measuring leader behaviors continuously and over time provides evidence of the effectiveness of development programs. L&D can prove out impact by reporting on which investments yield the best results or which should be sunset, making their program more strategic and effective. When feedback is measured continuously through micro-sampling, L&D leaders can prove which development programs had the greatest impact, allowing for ongoing fine-tuning and improvement.

If you’re interested in ways to learn more about how to introduce continuous feedback into your organization, book time with a Rhabit consultant today. We’re changing the way employees think about feedback by making it fast, frequent, and fun. 

"I love Rhabit! The feedback makes self improvement very easy!" - Backcountry.com user

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