If you're reading this, you're likely considering doing a 360 or you're about to do one and aren't sure what to expect. Either way, you're in the right place. 

Here'll you find a 360 primer and some pointers to make the process work for you, and for your team.

 

What is a 360?

A 360 is an evaluation of your performance by a sampling of the people around you - typically your manager, peers, and direct reports (if applicable). It can be conducted online, via a questionnaire, or verbally, by a third party who will collect and summarize the results.

A 360 is often used as a coaching tool by your manager or by a leadership/executive coach. Many people destined for leadership roles seek out 360s to address their blindspots proactively and to get ahead.


A detailed evaluation by peers and direct reports? I have reservations...

Some people find the process daunting, and for good reason - business is always somewhat personal and it can be nerve-wracking to get a report card.

Most 360 subjects are concerned that the results will reflect poorly on them, that respondents will be too harsh (or too polite), or that they'll learn something they don't want to know.

But guess what? Almost everyone who undergoes a 360 emerges from the process better off than before they started. They learn about themselves, they learn about the people around them, and they are better equipped to overcome any obstacles between them and professional success.

 

Sold. How to I get the most from a 360 process?

1. Set the tone

Many people are hesitant to give straight feedback - they worry that feelings will get hurt or that their remarks will be taken out of context. Too-diplomatic feedback isn't of much use, so set the tone for direct feedback.

Tell people ahead of time that you're open to honest, well-intentioned feedback - make sure you're getting an accurate picture of how people experience you. Without that, your 360 will be less useful from the get-go, so why go to the trouble?

 

2. Keep an open mind

Remember, perception is reality. Even if you disagree with an opinion you hear in a 360, it's true for at least one person, and that matters.

Knowing how a manager, peer, or direct report feels can help you address any misperceptions and get better. Often, a point of criticism can be traced back to a miscommunication versus a serious error of any kind. But either way, you can't do anything about it until you know about it, so take any and all feedback seriously.

 

3. Use it - or lose it

360 feedback is only as useful as you make it. If you ignore it or let it get out of date before you act on it, you'll get dinged twice:

  1. People will think "I gave you the chance to address my concerns and you didn't," which could be worse than never having sought feedback in the first place. 
  2. You'll miss out on an opportunity to get better.

Act in a timely manner. If people still have the same concerns about you 6 months on, you are missing out on development - and perhaps even promotion - opportunities.

 

4. Talk - and listen

If your 360 was initiated by the people around you, you must talk about it - at a minimum, follow up to thank the respondents for their candor, and ideally assure them that you have plans to act on their words.

You'll show yourself to be open-minded, transparent, and solution-oriented - as opposed to intransigent and perhaps even bitter. 

If you initiated the process yourself, be sure to circle back and use the 360 feedback as a self-improvement tool. And here's a bonus tip: no manager dislikes it when a direct report says "I heard that people think I'm lacking in a particular area and here are some ways I'm working on addressing it." Follow up to earn some easy brownie points.

 

TL; DR

If you have the opportunity to undergo a 360 evaluation, do it. Solicit honest feedback, thank the respondents, and show them how you're addressing any concerns. You'll be stronger for it.

 

Pencil or Ink offers 360 evaluations - verbally and online. Talk to us if you are interested or would like to learn more.