By Karen Carmody, MBA, PCC
As an Executive Coach, I start every engagement obtaining 360 feedback . Feedback is gathered by administering an assessment instrument or conducting interviews. The process involves gathering feedback from the client, manager, peers, and direct reports. This approach yields a comprehensive image of an individual’s skills, behaviors, and performance. Bill Gates, a staunch proponent of coaching, described feedback as the key to improvement. He was quoted as saying: “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” Below I highlight 5 benefits of 360 feedback.
- Improves Self-Awareness
Research shows there is a significant gap between an individual’s perception and reality. One scientific study estimates only 10%–15% of the people studied are self-aware. Another study found that more-experienced managers were less accurate in assessing their leadership effectiveness than less experienced managers.
- Clarifies Strengths
360 feedback helps individuals clarify their strengths. Perfectionism and the Imposter Syndrome are common challenges for my high-potential clients. These clients can sometimes hold themselves to impossibly high standards and down play their strengths. As a result, these clients often score themselves lower than their raters. These clients benefit from receiving positive feedback acknowledging and validating their strengths.
- Unmasks Blind Spots
Conversely, my clients also have blind spots. Blind spots are skills that individuals consider strengths, but others rate them as weaknesses. A Developmental Dimensions International study found that 89% of front-line leaders have at least one blind spot in their leadership skills. I can cite examples of clients first learning about their blind spots through our 360 feedback process.
- Improves Relationships
Perceived or actual defensiveness is another impediment to receiving feedback. By proactively requesting 360 feedback, individuals signal their receptivity. This increases the likelihood of receiving ongoing, timely feedback. It reduces the chance of undiscovered blind spots. Honest development discussions mitigate unspoken festering feedback and improve working relationships.
- Enhance Performance
The overall goal of 360 feedback is to enhance performance. The feedback becomes the basis for establishing the coaching engagement goals. Once clients have clarity of how they are perceived, we work together to create a customized Development Plan. This process engages leaders to take accountability and ownership for managing their career progression. The enhanced performance yields positive result for the clients, their teams, and their organizations.
Candid 360 feedback is needed to evaluate a leader’s skills, behaviors, and performance. Ultimately, the client decides how to utilize the feedback. Whether or not they agree with it, it’s critical for leaders to understand how they are perceived. As the saying goes, perception is reality. Leaders can’t fix what they don’t know. To quote Ken Blanchard, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
To discuss how you could implement a 360 for yourself or someone on your team, consult with Karen today.