How 360 degree feedback can increase the impact of coaching

Coaching is a vital developmental tool for individuals and organisations alike, but one of the main challenges that can inhibit the impact of coaching is that it relies on the coachee’s level of self-awareness and, frankly, their honesty when it comes to self-evaluation. In this article we explain how 360 degree feedback can be a powerful complement to coaching, offering a broader view of an individual’s behaviours.

What is coaching?

Coaching is a developmental approach aimed at improving an individual’s performance and personal growth through guided conversations and activities. It involves a coach who provides support, feedback, and guidance to help the coachee (the person being coached) achieve specific goals. Coaching can occur in various contexts, including personal life, career development, executive leadership, sports, and health.

What are the benefits of coaching?

Personal Growth and Self-Awareness:

Coaching helps individuals gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their strengths, and areas for improvement. This self-awareness can lead to personal growth and better decision-making.

Goal Achievement:

Coaches assist individuals in setting realistic and attainable goals. Through structured sessions, they help create actionable plans and hold the coachee accountable, increasing the likelihood of achieving these goals.

Improved Performance:

In professional settings, coaching can enhance job performance by identifying and addressing specific skills or behaviours that need improvement. This can lead to increased productivity and career advancement.

Enhanced Communication Skills:

Coaching often focuses on improving communication, which can benefit personal relationships and professional interactions. Effective communication skills are critical for leadership and teamwork.

Stress Reduction and Resilience:

By providing support and coping strategies, coaching can help individuals manage stress and build resilience, contributing to better mental health and well-being.

Leadership Development:

Executive and leadership coaching helps develop essential leadership skills such as strategic thinking, emotional intelligence, and decision-making, crucial for career progression and organisational success.

What are the downsides of coaching?


Professional coaching can be expensive, making it less accessible to some individuals. The cost can vary significantly depending on the coach’s experience and the length of the coaching engagement.

Variable Quality:

The effectiveness of coaching heavily depends on the coach’s qualifications and experience. Not all coaches are equally skilled, and a poor coaching experience can be ineffective or even counterproductive.


There is a risk that individuals may become overly dependent on their coach, relying too much on external guidance rather than developing their internal problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Unrealistic Expectations:

Some individuals may have unrealistic expectations about the outcomes of coaching. It is not a quick fix and requires commitment and effort from the coachee.

Confidentiality Concerns:

n some coaching relationships, particularly in a workplace setting, there may be concerns about the confidentiality of the discussions. Trust is essential for effective coaching, and any breach of confidentiality can undermine the process.

Misalignment of Goals:

If the coach and coachee do not align on the goals or approach, the coaching process can be ineffective. Clear communication and mutual understanding of objectives are crucial for success.

What is 360 degree feedback?

360 degree feedback, also known as multi-rater feedback, is a process that gathers insights from various sources—superiors, peers, subordinates, and even external stakeholders—regarding an individual’s performance and behaviours.

Unlike traditional performance appraisals, which often rely solely on the supervisor’s viewpoint, 360 degree feedback provides a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for development.

Whilst coaching traditionally focuses on one-on-one interactions between a coach and a coachee, integrating 360 degree feedback amplifies its effectiveness by enriching the coaching process with diverse perspectives and objective data.

This holistic approach fosters self-awareness, promotes accountability, and facilitates targeted growth strategies.

How does 360 degree feedback support coaching?

Facilitating Self-Awareness:

360 degree feedback provides individuals with a comprehensive understanding of how their actions and behaviours are perceived by others. This heightened self-awareness serves as a cornerstone for effective coaching, enabling individuals to identify their strengths, recognise blind spots, and gain insights into areas for improvement. By aligning self-perception with external feedback, individuals can set realistic goals and tailor their development plans accordingly.

Identifying Development Areas:

Through the anonymous feedback gathered from multiple sources, 360 degree assessments uncover patterns and themes that may go unnoticed in traditional coaching interactions. Coaches can leverage this rich pool of data to pinpoint specific areas for development, prioritise interventions, and tailor coaching strategies to address individual needs effectively. Whether it’s enhancing communication skills, fostering leadership capabilities, or improving interpersonal relationships, 360-degree feedback offers actionable insights for targeted growth.

Fostering Accountability and Ownership:

The participatory nature of 360 degree feedback instils a sense of ownership and accountability in individuals for their development journey. Unlike top-down feedback approaches, where recipients may perceive feedback as imposed judgments, 360 degree feedback encourages self-reflection and active engagement in the coaching process. By involving stakeholders from various spheres of influence, individuals take ownership of their growth trajectory and are more motivated to implement behavioural changes.

Cultivating Trust and Collaboration:

Effective coaching hinges on trust and rapport between the coach and the coachee. Incorporating 360 degree feedback promotes transparency, openness, and collaboration within the coaching relationship. By sharing feedback gathered from multiple sources, coaches demonstrate their commitment to understanding the coachee’s context comprehensively. This collaborative approach fosters trust, encourages dialogue, and creates a supportive environment conducive to growth and development.

Monitoring Progress and Measuring Impact:

One of the inherent challenges in coaching is assessing progress and evaluating the impact of interventions. 360 degree feedback provides a baseline for measuring progress over time and evaluating the effectiveness of coaching interventions. By conducting periodic assessments, coaches can track behavioural changes, measure improvements in performance metrics, and recalibrate coaching strategies as needed. This data-driven approach enhances the accountability of both the coach and the coachee and ensures that coaching efforts yield tangible results.

In conclusion

Coaching is a highly effective developmental tool as it really focusses on the individual’s specific development needs and provides them with the confidential space to review their approach. However, there can be times where the coaching is not progressing, usually because the coachee is not totally open to change. This is where 360 degree feedback can complement coaching. Coaching and 360 degree feedback are both great tools in isolation, but when combined they can deliver even better results.