TSI Blog

Do you really get honest feedback about your managerial skills – 360 degree feedback could provide what you are looking for

February 20th, 2013 by Gary Cattermole

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The reality is that as you move your way up an organisation, you’ll receive less and less honest feedback, be it about yourself or your performance.  This is not overly surprising given that people can often find it difficult to give genuine open and honest feedback to a manager when asked face to face.

When we have responsibility for managing a team, we like to feel we are being a great manager, one who respects their team members, supports and challenges them in equal measure and creates an environment where they can give their best.  The reality is sometimes different.  The Daily Muse posted an article back in September that I felt was insightful, it picked up on three things to watch for:

  1. They Act Like You’re Not There;
  2. They Don’t Keep You in the Loop; and
  3. They Don’t Play by the Rules.

We’ve been told time and again that 360 feedback has been incredibly helpful, in fact to some, it has been a real eye opener and proved more valuable than any training, development or coaching courses available.  For many it’s the first time they’ve not been blinkered to their own abilities.

“What is the shortest word in the English language that contains the letters: abcdef? Answer: feedback. Don’t forget that feedback is one of the essential elements of good communication.”

A 360  feedback survey (or multi-rater feedback as it can be known) is a simple and effective way of getting feedback from people you work closely with on regular basis.  It offers people an opportunity to feedback their views and opinions in a confidential and anonymous environment.  Your colleagues, sub-ordinates, manager(s), suppliers and external contacts all have an opportunity to provide constructive feedback.

The feedback process offers three distinct benefits:

  1. Increased self-awareness;
  2. Increased accountability; and
  3. Increased performance.

The 360 degree feedback survey offers others an opportunity to give you accurate and helpful feedback in a constructive and confidential manner. In a 360 review, the leader and a group of other raters answer specific questions about the leader’s performance.  It is important to ensure that the group have a relatively close working relationship with you (peers, direct reports, managers, clients and suppliers), as they’ll need to answer questions around leadership behaviours, strengths and development areas, for example.  You should also avoid simply choosing ‘friends’ as this will not provide you with a rounded view of your skills and development needs.

Once all the feedback has been gathered, a workbook is produced providing detailed feedback – typically, these reports should be facilitated, you’ll have an opportunity to sit with an expert and go through your report – taking the salient points and building up your areas of success (strengths) and your areas for development (needs).  From here, you can implement development, training, coaching or other techniques (mentoring and shadowing for example) to improve those areas where you are less strong.

360 degree feedback has the added advantage that, if used on a regular basis, you are able to track and monitor your improvements over time.  You’ll be able to monitor the effects of your development, coaching and training and ensure it is having the desired effect.

The further you move up the ladder the more important honest and reliable feedback is.  Multi source feedback will test your own perceptions and help you recognise strengths you may not have been aware of as well as potential blind-spots in your own self-perceptions.

We can help you with delivering a 360 feedback survey, from design (even the competency framework) to administration, call us on 01255 850051 to find out more.

Written by Gary Cattermole
Gary Cattermole is a Director at The Survey Initiative, a dedicated employee research organisation devoted to helping its clients gain insight and understanding into what drives employee engagement in their business. Gary has extensive expertise and experience in a range of employee research techniques from employees surveys and 360 degree feedback to workshop facilitation and action planning sessions, working with a diverse range of clients such as EPSON, Telegraph Media Group, Natural History Museum, AVEVA and Accor. Gary is an avid sports fan, in particular table tennis and football. Visit http://www.surveyinitiative.co.uk for more information.

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