What are the key questions to ask in a 360 degree survey?

The purpose of a 360 degree survey is to collect feedback from multiple sources about an individual's leadership performance. This should include their peers, the people that report to them and the people they report to. In some circumstances, it is even worth surveying clients and customers (for example, when the individual and their team is working on the client’s site for an extended period of time).

Remember: the goal of these surveys is to collect and provide constructive and actionable feedback to help the individual get a sense of where they are in their leadership career, and areas for improvement. The questions that you ask through the survey are key to achieving this outcome.

Here are some of the questions that we have found to be enormously effective over the years:


Communication: How effective is the individual's communication with colleagues, managers, direct reports, and customers? Good leaders are effective communicators, so questions which target this trait will help identify whether the individual has a foundational quality for good leadership. A few example questions that we love to use are:

  1. Speaks clearly, concisely, and in a straightforward manner
  2. Actively solicits ideas, suggestions and opinions from others


Courageous Leadership: Does the individual provide clear direction, inspire confidence, and provide constructive feedback? Leadership’s one of those areas that is difficult to get feedback on during day-to-day work. Because a 360 degree survey is anonymous, individuals have the opportunity to provide feedback on whether they’re being led well without a concern for consequences. A few of our favourite questions are:

  1. Makes decisions in the face of uncertainty and opposition
  2. Challenges others to make tough decisions


Facilitating Teamwork: Does the individual contribute positively to the team and foster a collaborative working environment? Workplaces are increasingly collaborative in nature. It’s important to be able to identify when a member is a good team player, especially if they’re an introverted type and don’t put themselves to the front of teams often. They can still be enormously valued members of the team, as the 360 degree survey will show. Some of the most effective questions in this area are:

  1. Builds consensus on decisions
  2. Acknowledges and celebrates team successes


Providing Direction: How good is the individual with getting the team heading in the same direction on a project? The more aligned a team is with a single path forward, the more effective it’s going to be, so having a clear and well-articulated direction is essential. A 360 degree survey can highlight just how clearly each person on the team articulates their vision. The questions that we’ve seen work here are:

  1. Provides clear direction and defines priorities for the team
  2. Ensures that all team members understand their roles and responsibilities


Task management: Does the individual manage their time effectively and prioritise tasks appropriately? Time management can impact on deadlines and expenditure, so it’s important to use surveys to ensure that the entire team is continually improving in this area. Some of the questions that we frequently add to address this topic are:

  1. Identifies action steps, prioritises and accountabilities
  2. Anticipates issues and develops contingency plans


Integrity & Trust  People feel better when they trust the people they’re working with. This trust is built when a person displays personal ethics and morals in their work, and as they develop a track record of delivering on what they say they’re going to do. This is another quality where feedback tends to be honest only when it has come from the anonymous 360 degree survey, when others in the team feel confident to feed back whether they truly trust the individual in question. For your survey, we recommend these questions for consideration:

  1. Is honest and authentic (actions match words)
  2. Keeps promises


Change & Innovation: Does the individual display creativity and originality in their work? 360 degree surveys are an excellent way to identify future leaders within the organisation. You should consider these questions when bringing this up in your own surveys:

  1. Promotes the mindset of asking: “is there a better way?”
  2. Prepares employees for change and ensures they understand the reasons for change


These are just a few examples of the types of questions that will result in an effective 360 degree survey, and there’s nothing prescriptive about these. It's important to tailor the questions to the specific job responsibilities and company culture to ensure that the feedback is relevant and useful.

If you have any questions on how to effectively tailor your survey to your businesses’ needs, contact the team at MultiRater Surveys. We have the expertise in helping organisations across all sectors get the most out of their surveys. Talk to us today!