360 Mirrors

November 01, 2016

At work, we are enhancing our Individual Development Plan (IDP) to include a 360-degree feedback tool. A 360 is like that mirror in the ceiling that some of us see at the supermarket, typically at an intersection and/or near the entrance/exit. The mirrors are placed strategically throughout the store so that one can see who or what is behind them, around the corner, or oncoming from various directions.  Many of us are unaware the mirrors even exist because we rarely look up.  However, if one uses the mirror, we may avoid a collision with another shopper turning the corner, or choose a different aisle because an employee is restocking shelves.  The mirror is a tool simply to influence our decision-making of our next action. 

Similarly, the purpose of a 360 feedback tool is to help us become more self-aware of how our teammates view us.  It is a 360 because we want feedback not only from those who are of higher rank than us (organizationally), but from whom we lead – those who report to us as well as our peers. The 360 perspectives should provide one great insight in how you are as a leader and a teammate more generally.  How we interpret these results, and more importantly, what we do with them is the test of one’s development and growth.

I received my 360 results a few weeks ago and I truly appreciate and value the fact that my teammates took their time to provide constructive feedback as I use it to help me grow into a leader.  Although I was not surprised with any of the qualitative results, they pointed out what I have known about myself, and apparently still need to work on. 

Ironically, I attended a Live2Lead event by the John Maxwell Team last week. Liz Wiseman was one of the guest speakers and her talk strongly resonated with me. In her talk, based from her book, Multipliers, she focused on a group of Accidental Diminishers. These are leaders with GOOD intentions but end up having a diminishing effect on others. I began to see a correlation with the my qualitative results and Wiseman’s accidental diminishers effect typology.  I show them below with a brief description of each of the effects’ intentions/outcomes as potential outcomes as a result of my actions that inspired my teammates’ feedback.

360 Feedback: “Need to delegate more – takes on too much”

  • The Optimist – (intention) To create a belief that the team can do it; (outcome) People wonder if the leader appreciates or understands the struggle and the possibility of failure.
  • The Rescuer – (intention) To ensure people are successful and to protect their reputation; (outcome) People become dependent on the leader which ends up weakening their reputation. 

360 Feedback: “Be less confrontational / comes across stubborn and alternative ways are presumed less effective or desirable”

  • Always On – (intention) To create infectious energy and share their point of view; (outcome) The leader consumes all the space and other people tune them out.
  • The Idea Guy – (intention) For the leader’s ideas to stimulate ideas in others; (outcome) These ideas overwhelm others who either shut down  or spend time chasing the idea du jour.

360 Feedback: “Be more understanding in that others take a longer time to complete a task”

  • The Rapid Responder – (intention) To keep the organization moving fast; (outcome) People move fast but the organization moves slowly because there is a traffic jam due to too many decisions and changes.
  • The Pacesetter – (intention) To set a high standard of quality or a pace; (outcome) People become spectators or give up when they can’t keep up.

As with the mirror, the feedback tool is simply a tool for awareness.  What we DO with the information is what is most important.  It is our responsibility as leaders and teammates with a growth consciousness, to use these kind of tools to address our shortfalls and ensure that we lessen the potential diminishing effects we may have on others. I am committed to being more conscious of my actions and making the following changes:

  1. Delegate more by enabling others to do what needs to be done.
  2. Limit being The Rescuer and allow possibilities of failure.
  3. Be LESS confrontational and be more accepting of others’ ideas, even if it is ineffective and less desirable at the time.  Instead, enable others to develop their ideas and directly address the concerns.
  4. Be. More. Patient. With. Others. (I admit, this is the hardest for me!)

Finally, I do not believe in simply working on my weaknesses.  Much like in statistics, in order for me to RAISE the bar from average to a standard of excellence, I must put as much work into magnifying my strengths to even greater heights. These too were identified on my 360, and so I will continue to build and enhance these qualities in order to potentially lessen accidental diminishing effects as well as significantly increase a multiplying effect. 

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