Earlier this year, I participated in what is commonly known as a 360-Review. The concept is pretty straight forward; you are reviewed by your supervisors, your peers, the people who report to you and some people outside of your organization. I was dreading the experience until I had a better understanding of how the process works. It starts with a self-assessment.
Unlike the MBTI that I wrote about last week, where you answer questions and a computer program validates what you already know about yourself, a 360-Review makes you do the evaluation. In the process, I had to answer about 5,000 questions related to 22 leadership skills. I guess it wasn’t 5,000, but it seemed to go on forever. After I was done, everyone in my universe got to take an anonymous shot at my psyche. Everything is confidential. I only see aggregate scores and the woman administering the review is the only one who sees everything. The fun started when she and I explored the differences between my scores and ‘those other ones’.
Overall, I seem to be a pretty self-aware kind of guy. I agreed with my collective posse 66.7% of the time. I over estimated my skills 16% of the time and I underestimated my skills 17.3% of the time. A nice balance I thought. I should point out that I turned down the offer to let my wife participate in the review, but I’m not sure how that would have impacted my scores.
Every question is scored from 1-6 and is asked in such a way so that 6 is better. The individual values always represent the frequency with which you do something:
1 – Never 2 – Rarely 3 – Sometimes 4 – Usually 5 – Almost Always 6 – Always
For example, consider six questions constructed from: “How often is Dan likely to accept ______ when offered?” Where the blank is filled in with:
And you have a pretty good idea of how the scaling works.
If my wife, daughter, brother, mother or most of my friends and I answered those questions, I’d probably have better that 66.7 agreement. I would also be ranked pretty low for the skill ‘makes healthy choices’. The trained professional might ask me to work on improving my diet. Oh yeah, did I mention that you are given work to do after the review is over? I won’t share the results across all 22 skill sets, but I will share my 5 highest and 5 lowest skills:
I was pretty comfortable with that mix and I’m not too interested in
bolstering those low-lying areas. Let’s face it, sometimes decisions aren’t fair – deal with it. My attitude might need some work, but the goal isn’t necessarily to improve specific skills. No, we want to close the gaps between my perception and that of the people I interact with. In other words, the goal wouldn’t be for me to eat better, but to help everybody plan better menus – no chickpeas.
Not surprisingly, the biggest negative gaps stem from questions where I was ranking myself at the 5 and the few I put at the 6 level. I don’t normally express myself in absolute terms, so I should have avoided the “Always” answers but I do think that “Always instills in others a sense of purpose behind their work” is accurate. However, I don’t think that I should always have to repeat that message. I am more inclined to follow what must have been Thomas Jefferson’s approach to instill a sense of purpose in Lewis and Clark:
“Look guys, it’s very important that we claim all the land between here and the Pacific Ocean before the British or the French. OK, off you go!”
Social Awareness is one of the areas where I under-estimated my skills relative to my universe. This section included questions like: “Is aware of how his/her emotional state impacts others” and “Uses sensitivity to another person’s feelings to manage interactions successfully.” When asked if I could explain this discrepancy, I said “I think everyone was trying to be kind.”
Seriously, I’m no good at that stuff.
Nobody that I know really thinks that I am “almost always or even usually sensitive to their feelings.” I could give you a great example, but my daughter is working on a blog post about that incident. I’ll reblog it here when she’s done. Ironically, one of the questions contributing to my awesome Self-Management score was: “Resists the desire to act or speak when it will not help the situation.” Again, people were being kind. I gave myself a ‘3’ – you will have to wait for my daughter’s post to fully appreciate how generous I was being. Or ask my wife, I once told her “you don’t really look pregnant, you just look a little bit fat” – I was trying to help.
The planning and vision things were areas where I got a little defensive. I mean, I’ve been doing this job for 26 years without too many missteps, do they think I’ve just been lucky? As penance, the woman in charge made me prepare a presentation in which I explained my strategy to my universe. That’ll teach ‘em.
About those communication skills, well it’s not my worst score, so… The reason for it being rated so low is the fact that after 26 years, my peers still don’t understand the jargon that I use, and it’s only when I care about their feelings that I resist saying: “you really should know what that means by now.”