Everything You Need To Know About The 360 Assessment
Many people get a little nervous about a 360 Assessment. It makes perfect sense because it can be hard to hear difficult feedback, and we can be resistant to change. A 360 Assessment (or 360) provides valuable insight and an opportunity to become an even more effective leader. Feedback can be hard to take, and it can be one of the most defining and influential aspects of someone’s leadership career and trajectory.
A typical performance review only takes into account one opinion, often that of your immediate manager or team leader. In contrast, a 360 aims to create a more complete picture of an individual’s performance, skills, and contributions by gathering feedback from co-workers, managers, and clients who regularly interact with the individual.
The Benefits Of A 360 Assessment
By gathering feedback from a variety of people (ideally at least ten across different levels), a 360 Assessment creates a more balanced view of how others perceive the individual’s behavior, approach, and contributions.
A 360 can reveal your blind spots and show you areas for improvement that you may not have been aware of before.
The feedback can also be validating. It can provide encouragement and boost confidence because your hard work and talents are being noticed. You can learn just how much your efforts are appreciated, and that can fuel your motivation.
Finally, a 360 can help you create clear action steps based on balanced feedback that will allow you to become a more effective team member or leader.
Reconnecting With Confidence
A client or ours moved up to an executive role, and the confidence and energy that had defined her seemed to vanish in the boardroom.
Even though she was integral to redefining her part of the organization, the company, and even the industry, she was tentative and didn’t actively share her opinion. She saw possible failure around every turn.
After gathering all the details, we were able to share feedback with her. She heard how valued she was, what she’d accomplished, and how much the team needed her. At first, she found the feedback hard to believe.
However, when we spoke two weeks later, her voice had changed. Something had shifted inside her. She reflected on how important it had been to hear the feedback. She had internalized it and used it as motivation to show up as the confident, capable executive she was. Her goal was not just to execute her responsibilities but to feel and embody this leadership role.
As it turned out, she had taken action with a few executive team members a week earlier and communicated some challenging news. She received fantastic, unsolicited feedback and results.
The feedback from her 360 allowed her to reconnect with her confidence and step into her existing executive role as the leader she knew she could be.
The Specifics Of A 360 Assessment
We’re certified in several types of online evaluation tools (such as the Leadership Circle Profile or the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmark Suite® ) that can support the collection and analysis of 360 feedback. While they differ by provider, level, and depth, each comes with standardized questions and reports that allow the individual being assessed to identify key areas to work on. They also provide a wonderful model for our debrief conversation and development opportunities.
As the entire process can be a bit confusing, we outlined all the steps for you below:
THE PARTICIPANTS -
Ideally, we seek feedback from ten people (three from each level) to allow for anonymity. Sometimes, we might ask managers and skip-level managers to allow their feedback to be identified while everyone else remains confidential.
We gather feedback from:
- Clients/ customers
THE 360 INTERVIEW SESSIONS -
We’re big fans of 360 interviews. We conduct 30 min individual interviews with various participants that allow us to have a more nuanced understanding of the individual being assessed. Our questions can be customized in an interview, and we can ask follow-up questions as needed.
An interview can provide additional insights into the company culture, individual relationships, and possible narratives that paint a more complete picture for us and the person being assessed.
THE QUESTIONS ASKED -
We gather feedback on an individual’s performance in areas such as leadership, teamwork, interpersonal communication, management, work habits, accountability, and vision, depending on their position.
When we use a standardized assessment within an organization, the questions are pre-determined. In an interview, we have room for custom questions or follow-up questions that can focus on a particular behavior, characteristic, or value.
Whichever tool we use, we want to understand the individual’s strengths, opportunities, communication, relationships, management and leadership style at work. We aim to create the best possible and most complete picture of what it’s like to work with them.
THE DEBRIEF SESSION -
After the assessments have been completed and the results are in, we sit down, review them and have a conversation with the individual being assessed.
Usually, the conversation takes a couple of hours, so the individual has plenty of time to ask questions and can leave with a thorough understanding of the feedback. We prefer to schedule the debrief for the end of the day.
We lead with high-level results, strengths, and opportunities and then go through the answers in greater depth.
Coaches are available between sessions as we recognize that sometimes it takes a few days to process what you’ve heard. Individuals are highly encouraged to reach out after a debrief if further questions or emotions surface.
THE NEXT STEPS -
In the session after the debrief, the coach and client meet to talk about how the feedback is landing. Together, they’ll explore how goals might shift to incorporate the feedback received.
In some cases, the person being assessed might want to reach out to a team or department to clarify their role, performance or set up 1:1 meetings to be more engaged with team members, peers, etc., as well as people outside the company. The next steps really depend on the feedback received.
The key is moving forward by taking clear action based on the feedback in order to become an even more effective leader.
360 Assessments are incredible powerful when conducted the right way. We hope this post highlighted the benefits and the steps involved, and makes you and your team members less nervous about the entire process.
If your organization would like to carry out a 360 Assessment for one or more of your team members, please reach out to us.