Imagine your boss coming into your office and saying that you will soon be involved in an analysis that will survey your peers, your staff, and your boss to find out what people really think of you. Then, all this information will be compiled in a report and presented to you as a type of career development.
- Would you look forward to it?
- Would you run for the door?
- Would you run to the restroom to throw up?
Hopefully you will look forward to it. It’s called a 360 review and it can be a great learning and growing experience.
Before discussing the numerous potential benefits of being involved in a 360 review, I’d like to share my experience with this type of review. I have done two 360 reviews in my past. Both were part of a company-wide initiative that gave 360s to all manager-level employees.
- The first time, the person being analyzed was the only one who received the results.
- The second time, which was at a different company, the person’s manager also got the results.
This simple difference, namely who receives (or doesn’t receive) the results made a huge difference. In the first one, the people who filled out the surveys (for their boss, peer or subordinate) tended to give honest and helpful feedback. I learned a lot, both good and bad, from that analysis. The second analysis was very political, deals were made between peers, and very little was learned by the participants. The moral of the story is if you are involved in the design of the study, if you design it a way that only the participant sees the feedback, it can be much more meaningful.
I’m personally a big proponent of this type of analysis because it tells you something about yourself that can be very insightful. I learned that things I thought I did poorly, others thought I did well. I also learned that some things I thought were personal strengths were viewed as weaknesses by others. It was fascinating and truly helped me become a better manager and a wiser person.
A 360 review is usually coordinated by either an external consulting firm or the company’s Human Resources organization. Each participant is asked to provide a list including the names of their manager, peers, staff members, and business users if they provide an internal service. The coordinator then
- Contacts those on the list
- Explains to them how the process works
- Asks them to be honest and thoughtful in their answers
- Describes the data collection process (usually a web site of some sort)
- Assures that all those involved complete their surveys
- Assists the person being analyzed by helping him/her gain access to the compiled data and interpreting the information as needed
Should you be fortunate enough to participate in one of these studies, consider the following when reviewing your information:
- Consider it a learning experience and look for areas of personal improvement
- Look for inconsistencies between how people think of you and how you think of yourself
- Look for trends in the data that can provide you with personal insights
- If ten people like you and it seems that one person hates you, congratulations, you beat the odds. If everyone says your perfect, don’t trust the results
- Be thankful for this opportunity, the company has invested in your future by funding the study
Eric Bloom can be reached at eric@ITMLInstitute.org, follow him on Twitter at @EricPBloom, or visit www.ITMLInstitute.org.