The Difference Between Upward Feedback & 360 Degree Feedback

Giving appropriate feedback can help managers and employees be more efficient.
Giving appropriate feedback can help managers and employees be more efficient. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

In the 1980s, a movement started that focused on evaluation of employees and managers for strengths and productivity. Prior to that period, no specific technique was being used. Both managers and employees are evaluated on their performance and productivity through evaluation methods such as upward feedback and 360 degree feedback.

Upward Assessments

Many organizations use upward feedback as a type of manager assessment. This method of evaluation is only applicable to managers who have three or more direct reports. The minimum number of reports allows for a variation of the views about the manager's performance and gives a more complete portrait of the situation.

In an upward assessment, a manager’s direct reports fill out surveys that ask questions regarding the person’s performance. The data is analyzed with the help of a consultant, who might be external. The consultant corrects misunderstandings, focuses the manager’s attention on interpretation rather than blame and then guides the conversation toward actionable improvement steps.

Generally, managers should receive upward assessments at least every four years to allow for tracking of improvements and milestones and ensure other issues have not crept up.

360 Degree Feedback

The 360 degree evaluation method is a multi-rater feedback method that gathers information from a person’s subordinates, colleagues and managers about the person's management style and performance. Normally, 360 degree feedback is for professional development purposes and not as part of a performance appraisal.

The 360 degree feedback is best when all members of the same team are participating. When a whole team goes through the evaluation process, the manager is also required to take part and be an example to follow.


An outside consultant can help with both upward and 360 degree feedback. An outside consultant minimizes personal friction and gives participants the guidance to plan for activities to work on areas of improvement. With both types of feedback, the individual creates a plan to improve on areas of concern and implements milestones to track his progress.


While upward feedback is applicable only to managers with multiple direct reports, 360 degree feedback works for anyone in a team or organization. Also, upward feedback is a specific method that can become a single component of a 360 degree evaluation. The 360 degree feedback can be done using a variety of methods and tools which are not all applicable to upward feedback.

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