Why 360 Surveys Matter in SMEs

by Sean Foster | October 6, 2022 | Newsletter

Which applies to you?

  1. You have completed a 360-employee survey before.
  2. You have a broad knowledge of 360's but no real-world experience.
  3. You have little to no knowledge of what 360s are even about.

What's your number? Would be good if you replied to this NewsBrief with your number.

Some Background 

360 surveys are an important employee and culture development tool used extensively in the corporate world, but they are often overlooked in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

In case you are a '3' from the above questions, this is a quick 360 demo: Click here

Traditionally, 360s are designed to be run anonymously, but this presents a problem in SMEs where there are only a limited number of employees. With SMEs, it's relatively easy to guess who rated what. This is a significant obstacle, is there really a place for 360s in SMEs?

No surprises here, yes, for sure there is a place for 360s in SMEs. In fact, I highly recommend you use them.

With all 360s they need to be structured correctly and used with 'employee development', and not 'employee performance' in mind. But especially for SMEs, they need to be introduced where there is already a culture of trust and performance orientation.

360s are designed to develop self-awareness in an individual. They will help people expand on their strengths while being more mindful of some of their blind spots. A 360 is not a performance measure, it is a development aid. Introducing 360s into a business where there are only a few employees requires that you first develop a culture of trust and comfort with some level of vulnerability.


How to Introduce 360 Surveys into Your Business

There are a few things you should keep in mind when introducing 360s into your business. As mentioned, creating a culture of trust and comfort with vulnerability is critical. If your employees don't feel comfortable being open and honest with each other, 360 surveys will not be effective.

Second, you need to make sure that the survey is structured correctly. The questions should be designed to elicit meaningful responses that will help individuals and the business as a whole improve.

Finally, you must provide employees with coaching after they complete the survey. Help them interpret their results and identify areas both for improvement and hidden strengths. In fact, the post-survey coaching is really where the true benefit of 360s lie.


Building Trust in Your Business

Hopefully, my message is very clear on this one. You need to build trust in your business for your 360 to be really beneficial. No surprises here, if your business is lacking in trust there will be a host of potential issues going on (unrelated to 360s).

Every business needs to both build and then nurture a high degree of trust. It is not negotiable. Which by default means that if you are not ready to introduce 360s now, when will you be?

With every NewsBrief, my challenge is to keep them on the shorter side, if not, they just don't get read. So in the next issue, I will delve into that trust building. And it's fun, our BIG members trialled this Emotions & Values game last month!



360 surveys are beneficial to both individuals and businesses, but they need to be introduced where trust and some comfort around being vulnerable exists. It is important not to assume that you have this now, which is where the Emotions & Values fit in, that I will address in the next NewsBrief.

Second, make sure that the survey is structured correctly. And thirdly, provide employees with coaching after they complete the survey, so they can interpret their results objectively and you can help them identify areas for improvement.

If you do all of these things, 360 surveys will further reinforce a culture of openness and trust, as well as build a high-performance attitude in your business.

Sean Foster

Sean Foster

Business Advisor - Coach

PS: Interested in working with me? I help in 3 ways:
[1] Work with me privately to improve your business profitability, scale your business & improve  your personal and business productivity
[2] Join BIG – in-person, group based coaching program. Operating from Silverdale, Auckland
[3] Understand & develop your behavioural habits through psychometric behavioural assessments & coaching

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