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How to Survive a 360 Degree Feedback Assessment

Great leaders listen Corporate Talent Institute

Getting feedback is scary.

I don't care what you say or how to downplay it, people are nervous about how others see them.

Sometimes it seems easier to just go about your business, get through the day, and ignore the possible deficiencies and inefficiencies that people may see in you. It's a classic symptom of someone in survival mode at work.

The Dark Side of Feedback

It's true, feedback can do some damage to a person's ego. Especially if there is a lack of self-awareness or ability to see situations from other people's views. But, what if the feedback is an avenue for passive-aggressive people to vent their frustrations at you, and you had no clue?

Speaking from experience here.

A few years back, I started with a new company and was excited to create all kinds of new programs and experiences for the leadership and employees. I was touted as very accomplished with my previous company, got several awards, and experienced accolades on my last two 360 assessments. I just assumed that I could come into this company and hit the repeat button.

A year into the new role, it was time for a 360. I was pretty sure that the standard would be maintained, and I would see similar results that I did with the other company.

Uh, that didn't happen.

My ratings were generally good, but a couple of my peers slammed me hard. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I was not prepared to see any low ratings, and I certainly didn't anticipate any venomous comments.

Bottom line, I was devastated.

I found myself really focusing on how I felt attacked. And I ate a lot of potato chips and chocolate afterwards.

Keeping Feedback in Perspective

Over the next several days, I came back to my senses. I had 3 realizations:

1. We all experience a "grieving cycle" when we go through a 360.

Whenever we learn something new and it isn't pleasant, we initially deny and resist it. We may try to rationalize and lash out as a result. This is natural and some people get through it easier than others. Yes, I was angry at first, but I had been through tougher situations, so I would definitely survive this one.

2. We should be looking for the "small truths" in the feedback.

Even if the comments are spiteful and hateful, ask yourself, "What do I need to work on? What is it that this person is REALLY saying? Is there a place where I can improve?"

3. We should always recognize any overwhelming themes and patterns.

There are always going to be people who have their own scruples going on, and they choose to take it out on you. Look at the rest of the feedback. Are there any similar themes or comments? Or is this person's feedback an isolated incident? Put the feedback in perspective.

Tips to Help You Manage Your Survival Following the 360 Assessment

1. Thank Your Raters- no matter what. We know 360's are designed to be confidential, but it's critical to tell everyone "THANK YOU". This means EVERYONE you invited to complete the 360 Feedback on you.

2. Rise above the Negativity Trap. Avoid saying anything that would indicate you are bitter or feeling slighted- to your raters. Instead, focus on how the feedback will help your continued growth and development. Point out a couple of obvious themes that are both positive and constructive. For example, recognize that people notice your creativity and willingness to step up in difficult times. Also recognize that you need to continue working on your active listening skills or quality results.

3. Work through your pain and challenges with a coach or a trusted advisor. Let's face it, you probably need to vent. Do it privately with a coach or your mentor.

4. Focus on relationship building and openness. If you see that there are some obvious challenges with specific people, seek them out and ask them how you can work together to improve the relationship. You are not going to fix the other person, but you can at least make the effort to understand their perspective and how the friction can be minimized going forward.

5. Don't forget about what you do well. As humans who want to fit in, we can have 50 comments on how great we are, but we choose to focus on that one needling comment. Stop. It's an imbalanced way to see your feedback. Every person on this planet has something to work on. Instead, celebrate what you are doing well and affirm yourself.

Does this article resonate with you? I would love to hear from you! I invite your comments, additions, and feedback.

Want to learn more about getting 360 Feedback for your organization or for yourself? Contact Us Here.


Angela is CEO of The Corporate Talent Institute, a private consulting firm that offers talent and leadership development, HR Management Services, and The School of Executive Presence.


Angie Nuttle School of Executive Presence

Angela Nuttle is an author, speaker, talent remodeler®, and consultant in talent and organizational development. As founder of The School of Executive Presence™, she teaches business people how to show up with executive presence and coaches them to business success. She also works directly with CEOS, Business Leaders, and HR Teams to develop people, potential, and processes that create productive and profitable business environments.

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