As leaders rise through the ranks of their organizations, they often receive less and less honest information about themselves and their performance. Others are sometimes afraid of displeasing those in leadership positions and may give less than frank and candid feedback on a leader’s performance when asked face to face.
When done correctly, there are three clear benefits from the 360 feedback process:
- Increased self-awareness
- Increased accountability
- Increased performance
A 360-degree feedback process offers others an opportunity to give leaders accurate and helpful feedback in a constructive and confidential manner. In a 360 assessment, the leader and a group of other raters answer specific questions about the leader’s performance. These raters are chosen from those with whom a leader works day-to-day and typically include supervisors, direct reports, peers, and customers.
It is unlikely that leaders have reached their positions in an organization by behaving in a random way. They likely have some understanding of appropriate leadership behavior and probably have a pretty good idea of their own strengths and needs.
The Case for 360 Feedback
Honest and reliable feedback is necessary to test one’s own perceptions, recognize previously unseen strengths, and become aware of blind spots in one’s self-perceptions.
Humans are said to be the only animals capable of self-deception. Self-perceptions can create blind spots. Some may think a particular skill is a towering strength while others may see that, in reality, this area is more of a glaring need.
Leaders need feedback from others to make sure that their view of themselves is completely realistic. A 360-degree feedback survey can effectively provide this realistic view in a confidential and safe way.
When others give feedback in a 360-degree assessment process, they become involved in the process of improvement. They invest time, energy, and thought into their feedback and become actively involved in the recipient’s growth and continued improvement. Others are more likely to continue to support someone’s development when the leader asks for their feedback, acts on their feedback, and follows through with them afterwards.
The outcome of the 360 feedback process is a personal development plan. This plan is then shared with the participant’s manager who provides accountability to accomplish goals. The participant should also follow-up with his or her peers and direct reports to share the insights gained and plans for improvement.
Leaders who have experienced the 360-degree feedback process find that it is one of the most influential leadership development experiences in their careers and does more for their growth than any other single activity.