Look Up, Down and Sideways to Perform Better

I am a zealot about the 360 degree feedback tool of performance management.

360 feedback is not new, but in my leadership experience it is one of the most effective methods of assessing how you perform your responsibilities, and what you need to do to improve for future opportunities.

And it works for all sizes of business and not-for-profits.

There are two components of performance management that benefit from feedback:

Performance evaluation

The assessment of HOW you do are performing your role today: your behaviors and competencies, how others perceive you, your listening, planning, and goal-setting skills and other dimensions such as teamwork, character, and leadership effectiveness.

Performance development

Determining the things you need to do to improve your performance in the future.

360 Feedback provides a view of your performance not only from your boss, but also from your peers and others in the organization that interact with you on a regular basis.

Your peers provide the most honest appraisal of how you currently perform your responsibilities; next on the honest scale are your colleagues and the least honest is your boss.

Its not that your boss is incompetent, its just that they don’t get to see you every day doing your thing like others do. In addition your boss may be seeing your behavior through rose colored glasses, but your peers aren’t. And they are not shy about giving you the feedback you need to hear.

In terms of identifying what you need to do to improve your performance, 360 Feedback provides a multi-dimensional view of what key changes you need to make. Dysfunctional behaviors are identified - with no holds barred - along with specific strengths and other weaknesses that need to be addressed.

Action planning

Here’s how to get the most personal payback from 360 feedback.

  • make your target audience as robust as possible and thank them for helping you
  • In addition to your direct boss, include their colleagues in your feedback list
  • ask all your peers
  • select other key individuals in the organization that are impacted by your work. I always included frontline people in order to see how well I was supporting them
  • ask for feedback every six months
  • communicate your results to your feedback audience. You may find this uncomfortable, but it is an expression of confidence and leadership people will notice and not forget
  • build a feedback action plan to address address your shortfalls and continue to strengthen what you do well
  • communicate your action plan to your feedback audience. Make sure they all know what you intend to do to improve your results

The 360 Feedback method is only for people who really want to perform better and prepare for future opportunities — and for those who have the thick skin to accept honesty. Give it a try.

Related: What COVID Should Teach People About Beating the Unexpected