Asking for feedback always has a risk associated with. Asking for personal 360 degree feedback adds a whole new level of risk and trepidation for many.
It takes real courage to ask people you trust and respect to provide comments and recommendations about you. Real courage. It takes even more courage to hear it and act upon it. But there’s nothing quite like it for enabling people to build on the great behaviours and address the one that’s less great…
So, if you’re willing to hear feedback from others, what are your options?
- Automated systems: You most likely associate 360 feedback with automated processes where lots of people are invited to comment on their line manager or colleague through the click of a mouse. There’s a time and a place for it and when the time seems right I’m delighted to use the excellent Strengthscope Leader and the Strengthscope360 instruments as they have a positive and constructive focus.
- 1:1 interviews completed by a coach: 8-10 feedback interviews completed & briefly summarised on your behalf with people that you have carefully selected, enabling us to explore deep and meaningful questions about your behaviours and their impact on others. Interviews? Yes, eight 1:1 interviews. Not an automated algorithm in sight.
- 1:1 interviews completed by you about you: 8-10 interviews completed by you about you, where you ask the questions and hear the answers directly. Liz Ryan recommends three questions: “How are we doing?”, “How are you doing?” and “How am I doing, managing you guys?”.
I love the third option and recommend it to you. Sadly, however, my experience to date is that in most workplace cultures currently, these interviews simply don’t happen either because of time or because of a cultural misfit. And when they do happen they can be very challenging to hear and process, e.g. “You’re the worst manager ever!” or, worse, superficial, e.g. “No, everything’s fine (smile)”.
So, I recommend the bespoke 360 degree interview process when clients:
- want depth, nuance and insight; and / or
- are seeking interpretation, clarification and deeper understanding; and / or
- have specific areas they want feedback upon
I’ve been conducting these interviews for about 15 years. At the end of 2014 I took the opportunity to adjust my process to align it better with my passion for strengths and positive psychology, as I had the pleasure of conducting a lot of them last year. Here’s what I learnt:
- “You at your best” stories: Clients are genuinely moved by the one page appendix that describes around 12 stories of them “at their best”. When there’s story after story of glowing affirmation and positive impact, they get it. Who wouldn’t?
- Performance Risks are heard: After I’ve spent about 12 hours with the clients’ closest work colleagues discussing them and their impact, they know that I’ve been offered some pretty good insights into their performance risks. They know that I’m seeking out the important patterns that need to be heard (not batted away). They’re listening.
- Going deep is easy: Because there’s little room for things to be left unsaid or misunderstood, it can genuinely ease open the door to meaningful conversations about what’s really going on for the client…and how s/he can enable and support themselves.
- Coaching counts: Follow up coaching makes the difference between knowing…and sustained acting upon the knowing. And surely that’s what it’s all about?
After 30+ years in people development I know this bespoke, direct and constructive approach is worth investing in. But don’t take my word for it…
“I asked Kim to undertake bespoke 360 degree feedback for my Directors; an exercise she’d previously completed for me personally. We are all delighted with the process and the outcomes. Kim’s facilitation of the process is personalised, positive, constructive, direct and enabling. It made a positive and sustainable difference to both me and my Directors”. David Roulson, VP of Engineering, Discovery Communications Europe