360-degree assessment & a great coach helped me achieve career growth

360 degree and career growth

I was a director of engineering in Consilium in the 1990’s when my manager told me something that I did not want to hear.  In the annual performance review, under Opportunity for Improvement, he said:

“Patience – In past years Shantha was quick to show displeasure with those who did not meet her high standards, including herself. Shantha has made excellent progress in controlling her feelings but at times allows her frustration to get the better of her.”

I was devastated.  I thought I was being very honest and fair in how I handled my interactions but did not realize the behavior that went along with those interactions were not helping.

I decided I have to change, but how?

I was valuable enough to the company that it offered to pay for a leadership training to help me overcome my shortcoming.

GLC (Growth and Leadership Center) took me on in their Executive Coaching Program.

The first step in any coaching is to get an assessment of the individual who is being coached.  Without this assessment, organizations like GLC, who don’t work with you every day would be hard pressed to put a coaching program together.  This is where 360-degree feedback comes in.

There are varied opinions about the 360-degree assessment. In the HBR article, The Fatal Flaw with 360 Surveys, Marcus Buckingham says:

my beef with 360 surveys is more basic, more fundamental. It’s the data itself. The data generated from a 360 survey is bad. It’s always bad. And since the data is bad, no matter how well-intended your coaching, how insightful your feedback, how coherent your leadership model, you are likely leading your leaders astray.”

In a rebuttal blog post, Amanda Seidler says:

“Research has demonstrated that 360 feedback is indeed quite motivating to recipients and that when used in conjunction with proper follow-up goal setting, can result in behavioral improvements.  A recent Wall Street Journal piece even noted how savvy executives are following the transparency trend and publicly displaying their ratings in order to garner the support of those around them as they tackle areas that have been particularly difficult in the past.”

In a recent article on Emotional Intelligence, the HBR article by Daniel Goleman & Richard E. Boyatzis says:

“Formal 360-degree assessments, which incorporate systematic, anonymous observations of your behavior by people who work with you, have been found to not correlate well with IQ or personality, but they are the best predictors of a leader’s effectiveness, actual business performance, engagement, and job (and life) satisfaction.” 

“These assessments are critical to a full evaluation of your EI, but even understanding that these 12 competencies are all a part of your emotional intelligence is an important first step in addressing areas where your EI is at its weakest. Coaching is the most effective method for improving in areas of EI deficit. Having expert support during your ups and downs as you practice operating in a new way is invaluable.”

360-degree feedback from those who work with you by itself is not sufficient for crafting a plan for development.  As this HRM website points out, there are multiple stakeholders in the assessment process, and a rigorous 360-degree assessment would include self-appraisal, your manager’s appraisal, your team’s appraisal and finally your peers.

If you want to take your career to the next level and be an effective leader you need a development plan with the following elements:

  • Willingness to acknowledge your behavior is limiting
  • Support of your organization
  • A 360-degree assessment process
  • A leadership coach who can help you plan your development & carry it out & measure progress.

To all those managers and directors wanting to get to the next level – think about your behavior that might be holding you back. 360-degrees is a good way to get feedback from those you interact every day & then get a development plan to go beyond your limitations.

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