Why 360 Degree Assessments are a waste of time and money (or not)

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We all have blind spots, that is for sure, and having these pointed out can be a game changer for our growth and development. I am just glad they don’t have these at the gym.

Imagine on joining you had to undertake a 360 Assessment. Your gym instructor and fellow gym members measured your body fat, strength, speed, cardiovascular fitness, and there is the rating on how you look in lycra. I do not think any of us would be joining that gym.

After all we know we’re unfit, a bit heavy, and weak – that’s why we joined. What we need from our gym instructor is a discreet health assessment and a programme we can start on asap. This will quickly improve our health numbers.

I see this in training where a 360 Assessment, although appropriate for a high performing senior team, is an overkill for most.

The majority of people in leadership roles in New Zealand, even those with excellent operational knowledge, often have sub-optimal levels of self-belief, interpersonal and communication skills, understanding of leadership strategies or resilience for their role.

Having this pointed out by their colleagues is not fun and often counterproductive unless there is a high level of trust.

My preferred approach is an initial one-on-one assessment to identify the areas of improvement that are important to the manager where they understand the implications of the shortfalls and significant benefits of gains in those areas. This results in an eagerness for change.

Dr Marshall Goldsmith (ranked #1 Executive Coach in the world) who pioneered the use of 360 Assessments and Executive Coaching said that people either want to change and do the required work to improve or they don’t.

If they don’t, a 360 Assessment is of zero value. If they do, it is of enormous value.

Marshall works with the world’s top executives, and I highly recommend his book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”, which highlights common executive blind spots.

What about psychometric tests or personality profiles?

These can be powerful. I remember when I met my wife at university. Initially she thought, “Wow what a man, he actually listens to me”, however I was so quiet she eventually started to wonder if I was in some way specially challenged.

Luckily, we came across the book “Personality Plus” which explained the four dominant personality types and averted that crisis.

As a leader, understanding your psychometric markers or personality type enables valuable self-awareness in managing yourself and others.

However, if you struggle with relationships, are afraid of speaking to groups, find conflict challenging or lack enthusiasm to inspire others, there is more work to do!

When people want to change, and trust is high, 360 Assessments are great. If used as a tool to force change, they will backfire.

Really, the key for transformational growth is a want to change. When participants on our programmes see a need to change, want to change and believe they can change, then they will commit to change. The rest is easy.

Related: Why the future of employee experience remains a priority

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Michael Shaw
Michael Shaw
Michael Shaw is managing director of Dale Carnegie BOP Waikato (www.bop-waikato.dalecarnegie.com). He can be reached on Michael.shaw@dalecarengie.com

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