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Developing a 360 Feedback Competency Model

Competency Models for 360 Feedback Surveys

The first thing to decide is whether you want to work from an existing competency model or develop your own. Resist the temptation to re-invent the wheel. Many companies spend a great deal of time and effort creating a "unique" competency model for their 360 degree feedback program which ends up looking quite similar to our existing competency model.

If you will use 360 feedback surveys on a limited basis in your organization, consider using an existing competency model, perhaps with some minor adjustments to the evaluation form as needed.

For a company-wide 360 degree feedback program, you may want to spend some time developing a more unique competency model that incorporates your organization's leadership model and core values as well as the behaviors and performance standards that are expected of all employees.

Establishing the Core of your 360 Competency Model

Some aspects of your competency model will be the same for all employees, regardless of function or level within the organization. We will call this your "core". The core of your 360 survey will include the following:

  • Items related to company values, mission, and vision
  • Competencies and expectations that apply to all employees, from the CEO down to the individual contributor.


Many competencies or behavioral categories will apply to employees at all levels, but the specific behaviors in each area will often differ. For example, "Interpersonal Skills" are important for everybody, but the expectations and requirements related to "Interpersonal Skills" will be quite different at different levels in the organization.

Other competencies will only be relevant at certain levels. For example, "Building Talent" is an important area for mid-level management and above, but not at all relevant to non-managers.

Beyond the Core

It is less important to distinguish between functional areas, especially for mid-level management and above. Focus on identifying 3 or 4 distinct vertical levels within your organization. For example:

  • Senior Leaders
  • Mid-upper Managers
  • Lower-level / First-line Managers
  • Individual Contributors (Non-managers)

For each of the 3-4 levels, the competency model will start with the "core", but also include the specific behaviors needed to succeed at each level.

Remember - don't reinvent the wheel. As you develop your competency models, reference our standard competency model as it will help you fill in the gaps as you create your own. The top-level categories that we use are based on statistical analyses and field experience. Our top-level 360 categories (listed below) each contain 10 - 20 specific behaviors. Your categories will likely overlap with these, but even if they are organized a big differently, many of the behaviors (i.e. survey questions) within each cateory will fit into one of your categories.

  • Knowledge/Strategic
  • Character
  • Interpersonal
  • Innovation/Change
  • Building Talent
  • Leadership/Motivation
  • Execution