A (sometimes) painful leadership evaluation tool
I was in a meeting with a colleague who said his board was asking him to consider doing 360’s and asked me what I thought. I told him I thought they were from the pit of hell and that I am still in counseling due to my years of having them done on me! Okay not really – but then again – maybe sort of.
If you don’t know what a 360 is – it’s an assessment of what people think of you including bosses, peers and subordinates. By weaving together all those different perspectives it’s supposed to give you a better idea of how you show up to people. Ideally, people who love you say things to help you grow as a better leader.
But they can also be brutal. The thought of someone who has an axe to grind or is a passive aggressive person and can be given a forum to say whatever they want to the boss – in an anonymous forum – can be downright harmful. Since often the comments are grouped together, it can be difficult to give the proper weight comment that might come from a person who works directly with you versus an admin in a department that has no connection with you “except what they heard” or “knew from that one comment you made.”
So if you do them – and I really think they are helpful – here are some tips:
-Lay the proper framework. Whoever is doing them should be given guidance. The comments should be constructive, helpful, and encouraging. Let the modified Golden Rule apply – Say unto others what you would have them say unto you – and let the evaluator know that. The comments should also be based on first hand experience not on what someone “heard about someone.”
-Consider having a Filter (person) for the feedback. Now perhaps you like raw, uncensored comments so maybe you don’t need this. But I would have a trusted person, group the comments together for themes. The old Yiddish proverb is true – “If one man calls you a donkey, pay him no mind. If two men call you a donkey, then get thee a saddle.” Also, this person can filter out childish, immature comments and personal attacks that are outside the parameters of the established framework.
-Limit how often you do them. I know of one station that lived in the 360 world and was doing them twice a year Yes, I believe in a healthy culture, but the ministry has to keep the top focus on the mission. Also, we don’t grow as fast as we think we do – so let’s allow some grace for us to change over time.
-Put an action plan in place. After I did my first one, I hired a coach to help me grow in my blind spots. Blind spots are called blind spots for a reason – we don’t see them. Having an outside trusted person help you, is a great way to grow as a leader. If you can’t afford a coach, buy a book on a topic in an area where you need to grow. If you aren’t ready to put in place an action plan, then don’t waste the time doing the 360.
-Hire a new team after the 360. Okay not really. But you may want to after you read the feedback. When you have a 360 you have to have tough skin and not take comments too personally. I would encourage you to take some time after the feedback and really seek the Lord on how you can grow as a person and as a leader.
In Broadcast Leadership for over 40 years, Tim is now a consultant working with GMs/CEOs and nonprofit leaders helping them solve challenges. He can be reached at [email protected]