Why 360-degree feedback?Here's how a 360-degree feedback survey can be useful - it can help you ... click on each item for more info
In our daily lives, we often do not have any platforms or forums for people to give feedback to us. The higher up in an organization you get, the less likely you'll receive feedback on yourself, your ideas, how you're doing. People generally perceive a risk in 'belling the cat' - and so prefer to remain silent. They may believe that you won't listen to them anyway, and also that it may result in a negative perception about them! A confidential, professionally-managed 360-degree feedback process allows people to share their feedback, their concerns, their hopes and ideas. Case study A 360-degree feedback exercise was done with a 25-member team - where every member (including the team leads, team manager) got feedback from everyone else. At the end of the exercise, a debrief was done with the entire team. When asked what emotions they experienced at the end of the exercise, the overwhelming majority of the team responded - "Relief!".
- Relief - that I was able to get this nagging point out of my mind.
- Relief - that I have got everyone's perceptions and feedback about me and that I am 'still breathing' and fine :-).
- Relief - that the process was nowhere as scary as I thought it would be - on the contrary, it was great fun!
As the saying goes - "it is lonely at the top". People who are not engaged with their stakeholders run the risk of getting isolated. A 360-degree feedback exercise engages key stakeholders - and they become involved. They have a say in the quality of team leadership, they have a greater sense of importance, their commitment to the leadership, the team and the organisation is positively impacted.
Even just the opportunity to give feedback leads to an improvement of the relationship! In a customer service context, research shows that customers whose feedback is listened to are more likely to do business with the company - even if there is nothing more than just being listened to! A 360-degree feedback exercise invariably leads to strengthening of the relationships between the seeker and the providers of feedback. Stakeholders perceive that they are being given importance, that their inputs are valued - and this always leads to better relationships. If the seeker demonstrates change based on the feedback, it leads to high trust - trust that the process works, trust that the seeker is authentic about listening, change and growth, trust that the stakeholder indeed plays an important role in the seeker's growth and change. Case study A senior manager in a company's R&D division had been experiencing huge problems with a peer (another senior manager - in Manufacturing). The CEO (both were reporting into him) put the first manager on an Executive Coaching programme … with the clear goal of improving the relationship. The manager included her peer in the list of stakeholders. The peer responded to the 360-degree feedback very constructively, providing many positives as well as areas for change. The openness and sincerity with which this feedback was received by the manager, and then worked upon - completely transformed the relationship. Communication between the two senior managers became much more collaborative (from confrontational), more proactive (from reactive), and more constructive (from defensive).
Think about it - who is more likely to ask for feedback? A more confident person, or a less confident person? Clearly, the more confident you are, the less 'fragile' you are, the more likely you are to ask for feedback. By asking stakeholders for their feedback, your self-confidence is perceived to be high. You relate with others as a mature, stable and self-aware person who is OK with hearing the truth - even if it may be uncomfortable.
A 360-degree feedback exercise is focused entirely on development and growth. The purpose is to change for a better future, rather than dwell on the past. As Marshall Goldsmith, the globally renowned coach puts it - "Feedback (that) focuses on a past, on what has already occurred—not on the infinite variety of opportunities that can happen in the future … can be limited and static, as opposed to expansive and dynamic." At 360changemagic.com , we seek information on how you can 'maximise your potential' … and thereby get respondents to focus on areas for change and development, rather than on assessment of an unchangeable past. Case study A country head of a multinational IT organisation showed high resistance when the agenda for change was articulated as 'His people management skills are poor'. He became somewhat defensive - argued that he was who he was, and that for every instance of an apparent 'poorly skilled' way of dealing with his people, he could come up with a counter-example of how such an approach had worked for him in the past. Over a de-briefing conversation, the context was changed from past-focused (poor skills) to future-focused - 'How can he enable his direct reports to be able to take over from him in one year?'. To this question, the leader's response was completely different from the earlier one - this time he was positive, open and willing to work on the idea … and successfully transformed himself and his effectiveness with his people.
Taking a hard and honest look in the mirror can be an 'epiphany' moment. For many of us, standing on a weighing scale, too, can lead to startling realisation. A 360-degree feedback exercise is like that - like holding a powerful 'mirror' in front of yourself. It can tell you things about yourself that you did not know about, or things that are very different from what you believed. Any self-deception is challenged, self-perceptions are tested and validated. 360changemagic.com offers you an option to get 'change 360-degree feedback' 4 months after you take the initial survey. This is a powerful way to validate any changes you make, and reinforce your focus on growth and development. Case study A Regional Sales Manager in a fiber/ yarn manufacturing organisation had embarked on a development journey. About 6 months down the line, his manager raised the question - "Has he really changed? Isn't it too short a time to tell?". The Sales Manager knew he had consciously implemented several changes in the way he engaged and worked with his colleagues, but there was no 'objective data'. A 'change 360-degree feedback' was done, which clearly indicated the extent to which he had moved ahead. Stakeholders provided specific information on differences that were visible to them. This information clearly validated the work that the manager had been doing to change himself, and encouraged him to continue into the future.
Oscar Wilde once said "Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong"! For real growth, it is essential to see things from many points of view - and not just your own. The 360-degree feedback exercise will lead to many people sharing their ideas about you, your approach, your style of working/ engaging, and so on. This will automatically help to open your mind to other possibilities - areas that you may not have considered at all. Also, new ideas may be born that are much better than the old ones you had. Case study A Head of HR was due to retire in a few years, and began a conversation with a coach on what he could be doing to prepare for this. His coach gathered 360-degree feedback from the HR Head's peers and boss (CEO of the company) - and their point of view was on a very different track altogether. The company was embarking on a major re-organisation and business expansion - and they felt that the HR Head had some critical contributions to make to enable these programmes. They felt he should forget about retirement for now, and focus on the here-and-now. The feedback galvanised the HR Head into action - and he was able to pull his weight with the company - which went on to successfully launch their change programmes.
We are 'different' with different people, behave differently in different contexts and so on. By definition, a '360-degree' feedback exercise gathers inputs from a group of very different stakeholders - in terms of profile, role, relationship to you, and so on. By pulling together the perspectives of this wide range of people, you will have the opportunity to identify patterns and connecting threads that lie beneath the observed reality … which leads to powerful insight about yourself.