360-degree feedback programs have received a lot of negative (and justified) attention over the last few years. Even Dilbert has parodied the process.

Recently, a client said, “I can’t wait to do another 360 degree review that tells me what I already knew and provides me with very little meaningful insights.”

However, 360-degree feedback done right can be a very valuable process that significantly influences teams and organizations. It provides an outside perspective into an individual’s (often unconscious) habits and behaviors that sabotage their success.

These are areas such as an inability to compromise, conflict avoidance, micromanaging, poor communication or collaboration, etc.

Why Should You Do a 360-Degree Review?

According to Dr. Tasha Eurich, while most people believe they are self-aware, only 10% to 15% are. Self-awareness is very rare quality for a person to have. So most people walk around not understanding the true impact they are having in their organization.
There are three main reasons for this:
  1. While it’s easy to see what’s wrong with everyone else around us, it’s hard to see similar things in ourselves. The way our brain is wired makes it extremely difficult to self-examine ourselves to see our unconscious thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
  2. The human mind is not rational, but driven by emotions. We make up stories in the absence of hard data (i.e. 1+1=2). Our mind is also wired to reward us for making quick meaning of situations through chemical releases such as oxytocin.
  3. The more experienced and senior a person’s role is in an organization, the more likely they are to overestimate their skills, abilities, and competencies. One study of 3600 senior leaders found that they overvalued their capabilities in 19 out of 20 areas.
Therefore, receiving external feedback is extremely important in helping people understand what they are doing, thinking and feeling and the effect it has on those around them. Armed with this information, individuals have a much higher chance of creating critical behavioral changes.

Unfortunately, the 360-degree process is broken today and needs to be changed.

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