360 Survey Uses, Potentials
We like to use 360 surveys because they consistently generate useful results. Scientists we work with in leadership training, teambuilding, and strategic planning consistently use their 360 results to make meaningful gains, improving their leadership and communications performance. Their survey results help them see more clearly how their communications with others advances—or obstructs—their science.
360 surveys provide the person being surveyed with survey data about their communications and leadership effectiveness from respondents. The surveys use the “360” label because they usually elicit data from a mix of people around the person being surveyed: people who manage, collaborate with, are clients of and/or are managed by the respondent.
Once thought radical, 360 surveys are now in widespread use in most industries. Numerous vendors offer 360 survey packages online. Software like Survey Monkey makes it possible for amateurs to design their own surveys with minimal investments of time and effort. Some companies conduct 360 surveys on key managers and employees and use the results when making promotion and advancement decisions. Others enable survey recipients to control the process themselves, selecting respondents more for learning and development purposes.
Scientists in particular benefit from the 360 survey process. If done well, the surveys translate the important but difficult-to-describe competencies of “communications” and “working relationships” into data. Scientists can take the time to analyze the often-rich data in their survey results, and develop and implement thoughtful action plans. Some scientists we’ve worked with have taken their 360 results data far beyond the percentage and mean scores the survey software produces, creating scatter diagrams and exploring standard deviations.