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How to: Approach 360 degree team feedback surveys


Compass360 degree surveys can be effective tools for providing teams with the information they need to support continuing growth and improve performance, says David Cooper in this practical guide.

Team surveys can be used to help build a new team, develop an existing team or to support an established, capable team in raising their game even further. Used as part of a team event, 360 degree team surveys can enable teams to:

  • Relate those elements associated with high performing teams to their own team
  • Review how they work together
  • Engage the whole team in diagnosing and addressing issues
  • Review their performance against organisational expectations
  • Provide the information needed to enable 'self correction' and make effective team development decisions
  • Gain clarity of purpose and importance

What types of surveys are there?

For team surveys to make a difference, the approach and questionnaire design must be built from the team's context, their development level and their aspirations. Team development surveys can be broken down into three distinctive feedback categories as follows:

Team working (feedback to 'us' from 'us'):
These 'internal' surveys are designed to provide the team with a clear picture of how they see and rate themselves in relation to how they work and function together.

They are invaluable for helping teams identify and address internal issues that are hindering or blocking them from reaching their full potential and for generating positive ideas for improvement. Whilst there are many generic team working competency frameworks, my preferred approach is to use the team excellence model as the basis of the questionnaire design, and update individual areas and questions to meet each team's specific needs and context. The team excellence model provides insightful feedback against seven enabling elements of high performing team work namely:

  • Atmosphere

  • Relationships

  • Communication

  • Direction and purpose

  • Objectives and accountability

  • Performance

  • Structure

  • Leadership
  • Feedback is collated from within the team itself, which makes the survey easy to administer, requiring only 10–15 minutes of each person's time. The quality of the feedback data can be further improved by inviting participants to rank the importance of each competency element in relation to those aspects they associate with the team's continued growth. Team and individual team member reports should be produced, the latter showing a comparison of self perceptions with those of the rest of the team - normally an averaged rating. View a sample team effectiveness questionnaire and try it for free.

    External feedback (feedback from 'them' to 'us'):
    Internal relationships, roles and team processes are all important, but often teams are ultimately measured by what they achieve against the needs and expectations of key stakeholders from across and even outside the organisation. External feedback surveys can be used to provide teams with:

    • Current performance data
    • Expectations of key stakeholders
    • An external world view of how they are seen by those who potentially impact their effectiveness
    • The outward focus needed to establish a clear mission and purpose

    External feedback questionnaires should be specifically designed to provide feedback against the team's role, deliverables and needs. The most informative and successful approach is to use 'open' qualitative questions where responders are requested to provide feedback for the team (not individuals). One approach is to use a SWOT analysis type grid, alternatively the use of key questions such as the following can produce the clarity required:

  • What are your key expectations of the XYZ Team?
  • List four words that best describe the XYZ Team
  • What do you see as the key roles of the XYZ Team?
  • List three things that you believe the XYZ Team do well
  • List three things that you believe the XYZ Team could do better
  • How could the relationship between you, your department and the XYZ Team be improved?
  • Personal contributor (feedback from 'us' to 'you'):
    These use a more conventional 360 degree feedback approach where anonymous developmental feedback is collected from other team members and internal/external customers. Feedback is then collated into a standard feedback report format that can be used to support individual and team development activities. The most successful personal contributor questionnaires achieve the right balance between team working behaviours - such as building relationships, managing disagreements, fostering teamwork - and personal effectiveness competencies - such as planning, use of time, delivery, influencing, customer focus, self confidence, continuous improvement, etc.

    The key to using team development surveys is to ensure they are fit for purpose and designed to provide the specific feedback needed to help the team (or individual) move forward from their current position. This often means tailoring one of the above feedback survey types, merging together key components of several surveys or developing a set of bespoke questions, none of which needs to be an expensive or time consuming process.

    Feedback reports

    This is one situation where a one size cap definitely doesn't fit all! Whilst feedback can be shown in pictorial or numerical form, I have found the most successful approach has been to present external feedback in work sheets. This provides the trainer/feedback facilitator with maximum flexibility regarding when to use individual sections and in deciding who gets to work on what.

    David Cooper is the director of Lumus. For more information on developing and using a team development survey call Lumus on 01291 637380 or email


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