In my recent blog posts I’ve mentioned a 360 development programme I’m delivering for a client.  It’s prompted a fair amount of interest and questions so in this blog post I thought I’d answer a couple of those.

In my experience, 360 degree feedback is one of the most effective tools for helping develop leaders as part of a talent management programme.

Don’t worry!  I haven’t suddenly gone into the business of designing and selling 360 degree surveys.  I have my views on different instruments which I’m happy to share with you (as you’d expect) but I’m independent from any 360 degree instrument provider.

Nonetheless, I am a fan. 

I’ve found 360 degree feedback to be a brilliant starting point or addition to a coaching programme to help leaders identify their strengths and development needs, develop their performance and progress their careers.

What do you mean by 360 degree feedback?

Perhaps I should explain what I mean by 360 degree feedback for developing leaders.

360 degree feedback is where a leader receives useful feedback from several colleagues on how they see their work-based behaviour.

Feedback is usually collected electronically and people are categorised into groups to protect confidentiality. The feedback is combined into a report of charts, graphs and written comments.  A specially trained coach (someone like me!) reviews the report with the leader and helps them make sense of the feedback and decide what they want to act on.

So why is 360 degree feedback helpful?

This quote sums up the reason it’s so effective:

 “We are measured not by what we are, but by the perception of what we seem to be; not by what we say, but how we are heard; not by what we do, but how we appear to do it.” Anonymous

We may not like it but others judge our performance at work and our potential as a future leader of the organisation.  I describe it as “success is through the eyes of our stakeholders”.

For a leader to be successful, they need to be able to influence senior people; they need to work collaboratively with their peers and they need to get the best out of the people that report to them.

Talented individuals know that and will work hard to achieve.  But their success results from the impact of their behaviour not the intent behind it.  The biggest gaps in a leader’s performance are often the result of a disconnection between the impact they intended to create and the impact they actually created. 

And that’s why 360 degree feedback is so helpful and so powerful.  360 degree feedback can help them discover where they are getting it right and where they can improve.

So, are there risks associated with 360 degree feedback as part of a coaching programme?  Yes absolutely!  Which is one of the reasons it sometimes gets a bad reputation. 

In my next blog post I’ll share 6 of the biggest mistakes organisations make with 360 degree feedback and how to avoid them.

If 360 degree feedback is something you’re thinking of introducing into your coaching and development programmes, please comment below and tell me what your priorities are right now.  Then I can focus some future blog posts on those areas.

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