Growing great leaders isn’t a weekend project. It takes time, planning, education, and regular assessments so they can maintain their focus on areas that need improvement.
In a perfect world, these assessments are honest and effective, providing them with vital information and self awareness. Your 360 training should aim to mold them into better leaders. But, it’s not always a simple, straightforward endeavor.
It’s widely known that one of the most common problems with feedback is that the higher the leader is promoted within the organization, the less likely it is to be accurate and honest.
There is always room to grow; that’s true for everyone, but elevation in an organization tends to draw an invisible line between the employees and leadership. That line becomes wider the higher the person goes until they are nearly inaccessible. This makes effective assessments very difficult.
There needs to be a common ease for both the person receiving the feedback and the people who are giving it. That’s usually much easier said than done.
Adjusting to the Feedback Process
Humans tend to be very experience focused. We draw from our backgrounds, meaning what we’ve learned from past experiences. The more you do something, the more adept you become and that leads to confidence and the task or situation becomes increasingly comfortable – especially when the outcome is positive or favorable.
This can work on both sides of the 360 Assessment process. The more those providing feedback can see improvements within their work environment and do not experience negative ramifications, the more likely they (and others who are connected to them) will be to provide accurate and honest feedback in the future.
The same goes for receiving the feedback. At first, it may seem awkward and may even sting a little. No one wants to hear about their shortcomings, even when it’s framed in a constructive, growth-oriented way.
However, once the feedback is put into action and used to improve the behavior of the leader, help him or her grow, and improve the climate and culture of the organization, it isn’t quite as jolting as it was in the beginning.
Realizing and understand the value of feedback takes time – and experience. Seeking it on a regular basis and in a variety of formats, including the 360 Assessment can increase the effectiveness of the program.
Examining Your Expectations
What expectations do you have for your 360 Degree Assessment? This should be one of the first questions you ask when implementing the program in your organization. More specifically:
- Do you expect to transform an entire section of your company?
- Do you expect to grow strong leaders?
- Do you expect to see results overnight?
Take a hard, realistic look at what you want to get out of the program, but keep an open mind because what you want and what you get may not line up perfectly.
When you’re dealing with people there are always unexpected variables. Emotions can make them unpredictable and some expectations may simply be unrealistic. There is not magic formula that will suddenly make a team cohesive or create a leader overnight. These things take time and patience. You need to cultivate the culture you want and the results you expect.
Expected vs Actual Results
What happens when your results are in, but they aren’t what you expected? What happens when your results fall short of the mark? Most often this happens at the development stage or when the organization is not fully ready.
Your assessment may not meet your strategic decisions, but that doesn’t mean the entire endeavor was a waste. You can still recoup valuable information and insight into the needs of your organization as well as any areas of the assessment that need to be adjusted.
In cases where the organization lacks preparation, meet face to face with those who will provide feedback. Find out what they need from you in order for you to get what you need. They may have questions about how the program works or who owns the data. They may even fear repercussions for giving negative feedback, even if it’s honest.
Finding Your Focus
All too often an organization will take a shotgun approach to their 360 Assessment, with the mindset that it’s their “one chance” to get the feedback they are seeking. This is rarely effective and isn’t necessary if you’re conducting assessments and soliciting feedback on a regular basis.
Keeping a focus on strengths and weaknesses can help keep the assessment process more organized, easier at all points, and much more effective.
Few leaders are dialed in to their weaknesses, that’s human nature. However, all too often, they don’t see their strengths either. Often this is because their strengths are natural abilities or skills that they did not have to work to develop.
They were just born being good negotiators, great team players, or adept problem solvers. Focusing on these two areas can not only aid in the professional or personal growth of the leader, it can transform the entire organization.
Tips for Increasing Effectiveness
Usually it’s the little things that are overlooked in getting more effective feedback. There is plenty of focus on development and execution, but the smaller tweaks that you may not notice can often have the most impact.
- Provide structure so that those providing the feedback don’t feel as if they have to write a novel because they aren’t certain when they have said enough.
- Be specific about the work behaviors and topics you want feedback on, so they keep their feedback focused.
- Keep it simple. Complex questions become complex (and even chaotic) answers.
- Allow questions and discussion before beginning the assessment so that everyone understand the process.
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