When working with my coaching clients, they are typically concerned about who they should include in their 360 assessment. Because the 360 assessment is an online survey of questions about your performance as a leader, it’s important to consider carefully who you will ask to participate.
First, it’s essential to note that the 360 assessment is a series of questions, meant to give you honest and direct feedback. The goal is for you to gain self-awareness about your own behaviors and how you are perceived. It’s important to get that type of feedback from numerous work sources. Therefore, your feedback sources should include:
- Direct reports
- Leaders, those one level and above
In addition, you want to include those people that disagree with you most, may be the most difficult for you to interact with, and who challenge you. We can all find 10 people who will sing a chorus of our praise. We need people who are going to challenge us to change. Now that doesn’t mean we’ll take all of the feedback at face value and try to please everyone. It means we’ll look at the feedback with an open mind, look for patterns and consensus among respondents and set goals resolutely.
I’m often asked how a 360 assessment will be perceived by a leader’s direct reports. There’s concern that it will actually appear weak, and not as a sign of strong leadership. In the Forbes article ‘How Bad Bosses Compel Good Employees to Leave’, they put it bluntly:
“They neglect to solicit staff input.
Supervisors who neglect to solicit staff input cause employees to disengage. Bad bosses don’t really value their employees, and the employees can feel it. In turn, they stop making their best effort. When you don’t feel appreciate and valued, you are less likely to bring your best self to work, and you are less likely to flourish on your projects.”
What better way to solicit your staff input, than by asking them for input on your performance? I read that Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup book series and The Success Principles, asked his staff every day to rate his performance on a scale of 1 to 10. After he heard their answer, he’d ask “what would have made it a 10?”. Asking for their feedback is not weakness. It is leadership, directly engaging with their team.
You may be especially curious as to why you would include your colleagues, or those at your managerial level. Perhaps, you even perceive them as your competitors in the corporate ladder. It’s possible, you think, that they’ll rate you poorly, because they want to make you look bad.
Keep in mind that a 360 assessment is typically only shared with you, and not with anyone else without your permission. Additionally, it’s typically pretty easy to see when someone is attempting a smear campaign. I’ve actually never seen this happen in my 15 years of working with leaders and their 360 assessments. Most people are flattered to be asked to participate in your assessment process. In fact, many times I’m asked by my clients’ colleagues how they can obtain a 360 assessment as well. The fact that you are investing, or the company is investing in your leadership sends a message. If they are true competitors, they’d want to have the same advantages and have access to the same development tools.
Leaders, those one level above or more
It’s obvious why you would want your direct leader to be included. You typically receive direct feedback from them anyway, or at least you should. It’s helpful to receive valuable feedback from other leaders as well. Even if they can’t give feedback on every question contained in the 360 survey, they can provide feedback on those that are relevant. In addition, it’s another lens of perception that you’re after by including them. Would you like to know how you are perceived by the CEO, the Chairman of the Board, Board Members, Presidents and Vice Presidents? Choose those that you’ve had some interaction with and include them as participants in your 360 assessment.
Remember, vulnerability is powerful and courageous. You can’t improve, if you don’t know where to focus your efforts. Asking those working closely with you are the best resources.
360 Assessment Series
The next blog in our 360 Series will address what happens after you receive the results of your 360 assessment. It’s not something that you just sit on the shelf. It requires action and we’ll walk you through the best steps for success.