Qualitative 360 Surveys

Interview-Based 360s for Senior Leaders

Many organisations use web-based 360 degree surveys to measure and track the leadership performance of their leaders and HFL provides a comprehensive service in this area.

However,  recently our clients have been asking for a more detailed style of 360 degree survey, particularly at a senior level.


Enter the Qualitative 360 or Qual360 for short.


With a typical multi-rater survey, a larger group of say 15 respondents are sent an online survey in which they score the subject from 1 to 5 against a pre-defined scale. These days, most quality surveys provide an opportunity for the raters to add context to the score, but in our experience after executing thousands of these surveys, we’ve found that the raters don’t add much context.


The Qual360 executes a similar style questionnaire, but face to face. Typically, we interview fewer people - perhaps between 6 and 8, but spend an hour with each of them, asking them to add lots of meat to the bones of their score. As with most qualitative research, the Qual360s are creative enquiry.


The Qual360 is particularly effective in providing deeper and more effective feedback at critical employee levels; general managers and above.


The Qual360 is structured and deployed in much the same way as a normal 360; the subject is asking for feedback from those they work with most e.g. direct reports, key peers, their manager, in order to be able to execute their role more effectively. In our experience, raters are more than happy to provide the time, particularly since the interview is always conducted by an external consultant, anonymity is guaranteed, and the extent to which the subject is going to get real feedback is usually admired by the raters.


The external neutral consultant seems to work very well in these situations, and is critical at the feedback stage.




The purpose of any feedback mechanism is to provide a vivid picture of how that leader is presenting to the people they interact with. What is that impact? What are the positives? Negatives? What needs to change, why, and what will it take? Qualitative insights, compared to long debates about the metric of a 3.6 score, clearly have greater impact, and at senior levels where so much more is on the line, we believe – as do our clients who use the methodology – feel that it is definitely worth the investment.


Clients are responding very positively to this methodology. Recently, we executed a Qual360 for a CFO and after receiving the feedback; he then ordered Qual360s for all four of his direct reports – a reflection of how effective and useful he felt the process was.


To receive a briefing about this new form of 360 survey for senior leaders, please contact us.





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