360° feedback is a great opportunity to find out what your colleagues, employees, customers, and clients think about your performance and leadership skills. Ratings generated from a variety of sources can be helpful in bringing key issues to light (see my previous post, Do I Need a 360?). But getting all this feedback can be a scary process.
In an effort to improve my coaching practice, I recently had a “master coach” listen to a recording of one of my sessions. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive to get the feedback! There are things we do well, but there is always room for improvement. It was helpful to have someone coach me through the feedback process and discuss how to make constructive changes moving forward.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a trusted colleague to walk them through the feedback process. I recently had a conversation with someone who was simply handed their 360° feedback report. They were left on their own to interpret the results and figure out what or how they might change in the future.
If you have received 360° feedback, here are some suggestions for looking at the data:
- Accept the ratings as revealing how others perceive your leadership competencies.
- Examine how much agreement there is with your own self-ratings.
- Explore possible reasons for any differences in these ratings.
- Look for your strong points as others see you, and how you see yourself.
- Look for areas for improvement that others reveal.
- Be surprised if your self-ratings differ considerably from others’ ratings of you.
- Begin by justifying why you aren’t being perceived as you would like.
- Be defensive and dismiss negative feedback as inaccurate or irrelevant.
- Determine what behaviors might cause any differences in perceptions.
- Share your feelings and thoughts about the feedback with someone you trust.
- Decide what changes, if any, you might make.
- Evaluate the consequences of changing or not changing these behaviors.
- What might you be doing to create these perceptions?
- Is it important to you to change these perceptions?
- Are you willing to try to change these perceptions?
- What specific actions will you do more or less of?
- What are your ultimate objectives? What do you want in the future?
Identifying realistic steps toward an improved leadership style can have a significant effect on your performance. Choose a small step or one piece to focus on at a time. Identify one assignment that you can give yourself to experiment with new patterns of behavior. At the highest leadership levels, even small changes can have a large impact on productivity, loyalty, and employee engagement.