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Tim McDermott “A (sometimes) Painful Leadership Evaluation Tool”

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 Tim@TimMcDermottConsulting.com

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