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How 360-degree feedback can benefit training


Elva Ainsworth looks at four areas where 360-degree feedback can benefit learning and development.


The merits of corporate training have been well-documented, and it would be impossible to deny the fact that one company that invests time and money in training programmes will not be better off than an organisation that does not.

But, having said that, it is also crucial for companies to note that training is no silver bullet, and while certain programmes will help to achieve a range of organisational goals, there are some blind spots and limitations that only a 360 appraisal approach can reach. While forward-thinking organisations are blending 360 tools with corporate training, others remain unaware of the potential benefits that a blended approach can have.

"When designed properly and carefully, the data that 360-style appraisals can capture, offers a clear window into the cultural characteristics of the business."

Both interventions have a purpose, specific direction that they are suggesting to participants – training via its content and 360 via the competency model used. But, and this is the important part, 360 appraisals have more space for bringing in the personal goals and interpretation, and more freedom in how they are used. Below are four areas where 360 appraisals can pick up the slack that training struggles to hold.

1 Behavioural change

Corporate training can hone skills and develop the knowledge base of individuals and teams, but one key area of limitation is around the behavioural impact it can have. As we have seen on many occasions, for transformational shifts within organisations, an impact must be made on the behaviour of the people inside the business, and this is where the 360-degree feedback process can be effectively utilised. The companies that have benefited from the 360 approach tend to be innovative and open to new ideas, and added to this, these companies tend to have a clear understanding of how training and 360 are very different in terms of the organisational results they can generate.

2 Revealing data

The revelations that 360 appraisals can generate will never be seen through corporate training, because training does not have the ability to dip into personal behaviour and company culture. When designed properly and carefully, the data that 360-style appraisals can capture, offers a clear window into the cultural characteristics of the business, as well as identifying personality traits among members of staff that could be impacting on overall performance.

3 Individual privacy

The 360 tools are more effective in terms of revealing both positive and negative behavioural traits and characteristics, when compared to corporate training, because they operate under total privacy. In a training room there will always be difficult characters, some of them will prevent others from fully developing their skills and knowledge. With 360 feedback it is totally private, and an opportunity to be open and honest about features ranging from working environment to management abilities, colleagues and company culture. They are not geared towards just one common denominator, as corporate training would be, it is designed to be an opportunity for personal exploration, which can reveal information to generate transformational shifts within organisations.

4 Return on investment

Crucially, the data-heavy 360 appraisal tools are built on being very specific and personal to the goals of the organisation, whether that is to assess the capabilities of leaders, or to drive organisational change, they offer a far clearer channel to identifying ROI at a time when companies are still keen to keep a lid on personal development spend. Interestingly, the CIPD’s Learning and Talent Development Report revealed that more than a third (36%) of respondents plan to place more emphasis on monitoring, measuring and evaluating training effectiveness (36%) moving forward, and it may well be that for these HR professionals something that offers clear returns helps to satisfy this need.

Elva Ainsworth is the managing director of 360-degree appraisal provider Talent Innovations, where cutting edge online HR tools have been developed alongside insightful psychological expertise. Talent Innovations has delivered its 360 Feedback tool to more than 100 organisations. Download for free the full whitepaper report: 360 Feedback v Training: An Investigation into the Blindspots of Corporate Training by clicking 360 Degree Appraisal.

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