With budgets tight and time constraints even tighter, day-to-day pressures preoccupy most managers and leaders, so it makes it difficult to appreciate the value of making an effort to solicit feedback from others. Yet, the most successful leaders recognize that they cannot sustain success without receiving feedback and being open to understanding the impact they have on others. In fact, the more intense the professional environment, the more important feedback becomes since the continued pressure for results makes it increasingly difficult to maintain an accurate perspective on oneself.
When discussing the value of receiving 360-degree feedback, one of our most successful coaching clients said simply, “I want to be a better man.” This is a common objective of high potentials, male and female, and achieving it starts with a full and accurate of how others perceive us.
Feedback that is acquired through a 360-degree process can be life-changing. Stakeholders and team members are given the opportunity to offer both praise and suggest development areas in a confidential and appropriate manner. While blind spots and self-defeating behaviors can be identified, so are strengths, capabilities, and untapped potential. The key to turning this feedback into growth is an experienced coach who can spot trends, offer insight that connects the dots, and make recommendations from an informed, external point of view.
360-degree workshops, individual coaching, or incorporating the 360-Degree process into an on-going coaching assignment all have significant value.
The anatomy of 360-Degree coaching breaks down into 6 key issues:
1. A strong personal desire of a leader to get better. Even a 1 degree increase from 211 degrees to 212 degrees can turn hot water to steam and drive a locomotive.
2. Research time to find the right 360-degree coach. You want to click with your coach. This is too important a relationship not to have great professional chemistry and mutual respect. A strong coaching relationship can last for years, formally and informally. In our experience an ideal coaching relationship provides the feedback for continual improvement, fresh thinking, and the right balance of motivation and accountability.
3. Thoroughness and confidentiality throughout the process. Most coaches use both a validated corporate leadership assessment, like The Bixler 360-Degree Feedback Report©, and several verbal interviews for a comprehensive picture. Assessment results are shared with others only by the coachee, never the coach. Discussions between the coach and coachee are private, unless mutually agreed upon. While a coach can be a champion and advocate, the coachee will also move forward by being willing to selectively share the feedback results directly with team members.
4. An initial commitment of between 4 and 12 months. Change takes time and reinforcement. The coaching that sticks best is a hybrid of face-to-face coaching along with phone and virtual coaching. Our recommendation is that, at a minimum, there is one face-to-face session. Too much can be assumed without the context of meeting in person. Human beings bond better and stronger when there is at least one opportunity to make eye contact and exchange ideas in the same room.
5. Clear, ongoing goals for 30/60/90 days so that annual goals become a reality. There is nothing like regular accountability to get better results. Someone needs to hold us accountable to our goals and deadlines and that can be a coach, a mentor, or a colleague at work. The action planning process that is produced from the 360-degree coaching leverages the “Big Rocks,” those 3 to 5 goals that really matter.
6. A well thought out, long-term plan. The formalized coaching process should produce both short- and long-term planning. The long-term plan needs to be put in place after the end of the formal process, so the coachee stays a lifelong learner and leader. A good coach will maintain contact, in some form or fashion, with the coachee for years.
There is a popular book called “Younger Next Year“ by Chris Crowley that documents the value of an hour of daily exercise to not only stop the aging process but reverse it. 360-degree coaching also provides a renewal and growth. It leverages strengths like no other process can. Using our natural abilities on a daily basis literally strengthens us, like physical exercise does. Bad business habits get attention and are eliminated. Staleness and burn out are reversed. Energy and creativity return.
Can 360-degree coaching be measured and quantified? Studies done on the financial payback have quantified at least a 6 to 10 times return on investment. A self-aware leader makes more informed decisions, thinks more strategically, and produces stronger results. A self-aware leader also actively considers the legacy he/she is building every day and puts mentoring and succession planning in place so the team and the organization continue to thrive.