8 Reasons Your Peers Rate You Low on Your 360 Feedback Assessment

Without a doubt, the peer rating is by far the most consistent shocker for folks taking a 360 degree feedback assessment. Managers usually have a good grip on what their boss thinks, and at least an inkling of the pain points for their direct reports, but for some reason peer feedback tends to feel like stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night– yikes, where did THAT come from?

As I work with managers to dig underneath such painful perceptions, here are 8 key issues that continue to surface.

8 Reasons Your Peers Rate You Poorly

  1. You fight for your team at all costs.
    Of course this is generally a good characteristic, but anything taken to extremes can become toxic. Sometimes the best person for the special assignment is not the guy on your team, it’s Bobby on Mark’s team. Sometimes your team screws up. Sometimes the bigger bonus needs to go to the guy on the other team who knocked it out of the park, even though your teams been working hard too. Yes, advocate for your team. But also take a step back to be able to stay objective.
  2. You hoard talent.
    You’ve nurtured gaggle of A players, but now you’re afraid to let them go. You’re sure to put the best talent on your projects and give the leftovers to support other objectives.
  3. You’re lazy.
    They’re tired of picking up the slack.
  4. They don’t know you.
    You show up, do you work, and go home. You don’t let anyone know who you are a person. It’s hard to trust a bot.
  5. You don’t know them.
    You work side-by-side but never take a personal interest in anything they’re doing. They’re far more likely to trust the guy in the next cube who remembers their mother is ill and that they like to eat pizza on Tuesdays.
  6. You withhold best practices.
    You’ve figured out a way to do the work faster, cheaper, or with higher quality–and you enjoy being at the top of the stack rank, so you’re slow to share the secret to your success.
  7. You don’t follow-through.
    They can’t count on you to do what you say you will.
  8. You under-communicate.
    You’re doing great work, but it’s in a silo. No one knows quite what is going on.

If you don’t know where you stand with your peers, it’s worth asking. Effective peer relationships are one of the consistent predictors of career advancement. 

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Winning Well-3DIt can feel like a rigged game. Executives set impossible goals, so managers drive their teams to burnout trying to deliver. Employees demand connection and support, so managers focus on relationships and fail to make the numbers. The fallout is stress, frustration, and disengagement, and not just among team members―two-thirds of managers report being disengaged.

To succeed, managers need balance: they must push people to achieve while creating an environment that makes them truly want to. Winning Well offers a quick, practical action plan―complete with examples, stories, online assessments, and more―for getting the results you need. Managers learn how to:

• Stamp out the corrosive win-at-all-costs mentality
• Focus on the game, not just the score
• Reinforce behaviors that produce results
• Set clear expectations―delegating outcomes rather than focusing on process
• Celebrate even small successes
• Correct poor performance using the INSPIRE accountability method
• Demonstrate confidence and humility
• Energize teams to sustain excellent performance
• And more!

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I know this book will add value for your teams. Pre-orders significantly help the positioning of the book in the marketplace. I truly appreciate the support of the LGL community in spreading the word, and buying some advance copies for your team.  

I’m also booking keynotes and workshops for the Winning Well book tour this Spring. Please call me at 443 750-1249 to discuss further.

A 360 Feedback Tool You Can Do Yourself

Chances are, unless you ask, most people won’t tell. People are holding back their best thinking on how you can improve.

In fact, research consistently shows that people rate themselves higher than others do. When it comes to self-assessment, our confidence seems to out-weigh our humility.

This is partly because we know our own context, and therefore give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.”Sure, I slacked off a bit on that project, but, I’m only human for Pete’s sake. It’s back to school time, my husband’s out-of-town, it’s just a lot.”

We know we are human and that we’re doing the best we can, so we give ourselves some extra credit. We don’t expect others to know or care, but we know in our hearts we deserve a break.

I’ve witnessed this first hand with my MBA students. When I asked them to self-assess where they feel they ranked in terms of class participation, 100% rated themselves in the top 30%. That’s some crazy math– particularly for accountants.

When I asked the students to rate themselves and their teammates on their contribution to their team project, a similar pattern emerged. The students whom the teams identified as someone “they would not want to work with again,” didn’t view themselves that way at all. Instead they rated everyone on the team as having contributed equally. The most fascinating part was that although the team’s evaluations of their peers were often quite harsh, they were quite deliberate in ensuring their team didn’t hear the feedback from them. The harshest criticism came in sealed envelopes.

Of course in these circumstances, I asked the obvious question. “Did you tell her how you feel about her contribution?”  Number one answer. “No. She didn’t ask.” And so the cycle continues into the next semester, and will likely follow them into the workplace.

These students are not unique. Don’t ask, don’t tell is alive and well when it comes to peer feedback.

If you want to know how you’re really doing, you need to ask.

Don’t Wait

Sure formal 360 tools are a GREAT way to get structured, anonymous feedback. I’ve learned a great deal from them over the years, and helped leaders at all levels do the same. But the truth is, what makes these tools valuable is always the conversation that follows. If a formal 360 is not available or not practical in your organization, you can achieve similar results through your own listening tour.

Rachel’s Story

“Rachel” came to me frustrated by the feedback she’d been getting from her boss. She felt completely misunderstood. When I asked her what others in the organization thought, she admitted she hadn’t asked.

We identified 3 simple questions she would ask her boss, her peers, and her direct reports.  She went off an a 2 week listening tour. When we met again to discuss the themes, she had learned a great deal. Most importantly she had made the strategic shift from, “my boss is a jerk,” to maybe there are some things I could be doing differently. She made the changes, and life got better– for everyone.

The Listening Tour Approach

1. Get Your Head Right

Don’t do this unless you’re ready to listen with an open-mind

Absolutely don’t do this to prove someone wrong– people will smell that coming from a mile away

2. Identify Areas of Interest

  • Focus on a few key areas
  • Keep it short, simple, and exploratory

3. Craft a Few Open-Ended Questions

  • What could I do to be more effective in our meetings?
  • How could I have a more strategic impact on our results?
  • What about my communication style gets in the way?
  • What do you think are my biggest strengths?
  • If you could identify one area for me to work on this year, what would that be?

4. Identify People to Ask for Feedback 

  • Include people up down and sideways.
  • Don’t stack the deck with all friendlies or known detractors– work to get a balanced perspective.
  • Approach them one on one, and explain why you’re doing this
  • Explain that you’re really looking for candid feedback and that you’ll be happy to circle back with themes and key actions.
  • Thank them

5. Identify themes and key actions

  • Look for cross-cutting feedback
  • A coach or mentor can be very helpful in this regard
  • Circle back with stakeholders

Or Start with a “Survey”

I’m a big proponent to the listening tour approach. Nothing beats eye-ball to eye-ball conversation. But if you think you won’t get the truth, or you truly feel uncomfortable, you can start by using a free survey tool like Survey Monkey to quickly distribute the survey and ask for themes. I would go with a few open-ended questions rather than ratings. Ratings without comments will just leave you scratching your head at best, or ticking you off at worst.

Process matters less than substance. Ask and you shall receive. If you want feedback, start with a simple question. How can I add more value?

Motivation And Transparency: The Conversation Continues

Today’s post is a follow-up to our June 21st discussion: What Motives You: 360 degree Perceptions. I challenged you to explore your motivation through introspection and conversation.

  1. Write down 3 or 4 sentences that you believe truly describe what motivates you.
    e.g. “To challenge people to grow toward their full potential”
  2. Identify 5 or so people you trust to give you candid feedback. Ask them to tell you the complete truth. Then ask, “What do you think motivates me?
  3. Listen and consider. Jot down your reactions. And your reactions to their comments.
  4. Join back on July 1st to share whatever feels comfortable. This “was cool. I learned a lot” works, no need for massive self-disclosure. Of course, we’re interested in all you’re willing to share.

Now for fun part, let’s discuss. If you didn’t play, it’s not too late.

My Motivation

I wrestled with how much to share of all this, I don’t want my blog to be about me, but about helping you. Then again, I thought if I shared more deeply, you might too. Please forgive me if this is too much. What motivation makes me wrestle with that dilemma for 3 days?

What I think motives me:
  • Growth, mine and others (that’s what gives me a rush)
  • Exciting challenges (I love to climb big mountains)
  • Accomplishment (and fear of not accomplishing)
  • Competition (I do hate to lose)
  • Doing the right thing (and changing bad guys)Continue reading

What Motivates You? 360 Degree Perceptions

What motivates you? What would your friends say motives you? How about your mom? Your boss? Your kids?

It’s been a while since we did some real work together at Let’s Grow Leaders. Today I challenge you to a short-term experiment that I picked up reading What Keeps Leaders Up at Night. More to come on that book. It’s fantastic. I’m meeting with the author soon…

Join in the “What Motivates You” Fun

Read the activity below and follow the easy steps to participate. Join back on July 1st to share your experiences (I’ll be sharing mine).

What Motives You: An Experiment

The “what motivates you” methodology is simple

1. Write down 3 or 4 sentences that you believe truly describe what motivates you.
i.e. “To challenge people to grow toward their full potential”

2. Identify 5 or so people you trust to give you candid feedback. Ask them to tell you the complete truth. Then ask, “What do you think motivates me?

3. Listen and consider. Jot down your reactions. And your reactions to their comments.

4. Join back on July 1st to share whatever feels comfortable. This “was cool. I learned a lot ” works, no need for massive self-disclosure. Of course, we’re interested in all you’re willing to share.

What Keeps Leaders Up at Night author, Nicole Lipkin shares her advice on this experiment.

“Make sure your crew of respondents understands that you need complete candor. As you record their answers, note the context. Your mother will see you differently than will your long time colleague at work. But this is also true: People will color their answers with their own self-protective biases, distortions, and rationalizations. Still whether you like what you hear or not, perceptions can influence people as much as pure reality. If someone perceives you as a control freak, you must deal with that perception, even if you know it does not usually describe the way you operate. The appearance of impropriety is as bad as the impropriety itself. Resist your natural urge to defend yourself.”

Who’s in. Game on Come on it’ll be fun! Please comment and let me know you’re gonna play.

Namaste. Let’s grow together.

Diaper Genie Feedback

Today’s post is a direct response to a subscriber’s question:

I took my first real leadership position when my oldest son was still in diapers. Every time I used our diaper genie, I thought, this is just how feedback and bad news works. Each level takes the poop and seals it in a bag before it gets sent to the next level up. Then, that level sanitizes it some more with another layer of protection. By the time it gets to the top, it smells pretty benign.

“I would love to hear your thoughts on eliciting candid feedback from your team and stakeholders? How do you get your team to take the risk of saying what needs to be said to those in power? How do you go about it? What suggestions do you have to do this effectively?”

Diaper genies work great for babies, but are a dangerous leadership tool.

So how do you get your employees to tell you the truth?

How do you ask for feedback in a way that feels safe?

5 Ways To Get More Feedback

Create an Environment of Trust

When I put this question out on my Let’s Grow Leaders Facebook page for insights, Eric Dingler shared:

You have to start with the end in mind. I think the best way is to have a culture of trust to start with. If you have a reputation of being a jerk and closed off to input, no trick will work. Once you have a culture of trust. You can simply ask for feedback. If you don’t feel like you are getting feedback, you’ve probably failed to establish a safe environment.

For more on creating a trusting environment see, A Matter of Trust: Why I Trust You, Why I Don’t.

Model it

I often see managers say to their employees, “I am wide open to feedback,” but then discourage their employees from being open with others above them. Or worse, they model their fear of repercussions. Employees will always listen to what you do more than what you say. If you are open in giving honest feedback to your boss, your team will be more likely to give you truthful feedback as well.

Ask

There are many ways to ask for feedback on both a formal and informal basis. I use one-on-ones to do this on a regular basis, so the feedback is casual and frequent. I also ask for feedback more formally during mid-year and end-of-year reviews. Employee surveys can also be good. Read more about feedback in Feedback: Getting Great Insights From People Who Matter.

Respond Elegantly

Start with “thank you.” Always. Watch how you react, not just with your words, but with your face, eyes, and body language. Listen attentively and react calmly, even if you disagree with the feedback. Work to understand the perceptions, even if you know there is more to the story.

Close the Loop

When given the gift of formal and informal feedback, be sure to close the loop. Recap what you heard. If you are going to take action, share that. Circle back and ask for feedback on your progress. Closure helps to build the trust, and encourages future feedback.

Feedback: Getting Great Insights From People Who Matter

As leaders, getting enough feedback on your leadership can sometimes be a challenge. Of course, it’s important to know what your boss thinks. What is equally important are the broader impressions your leadership is making up down and sideways. Today I share some formal and informal tools to get the conversation started.

Who Are You Asking for Feedback?

One of the most frequent questions folks ask me when starting a new mentoring relationship is, “what impressions do you have of me?”

In other words,

“What’s my brand?”

“What have you heard about me?”

“What have you observed?”

“How do you talk about me to others?”

Great questions. I believe in transparency and I always shoot straight. But the truth is, what I think may matter, but I am just one opinion.

After I answer their question, I ask a few of my own

  • Who else have you asked?
  • What are your peers saying?
  • What would your team say?
  • If you took a new job, what would the folks working for you today be texting to the new team?

The answer is frequently, “um…I haven’t really done much asking.”

The answers to “why not” vary

  • I hadn’t thought about it
  • I’ve been so busy
  •  I didn’t want to bother everyone
  •  … ?

Or if they are really honest.

  • I am scared of what I might hear
  • Then I might have to do something about it
  • …?

The thing is, people are talking about your strengths and opportunities in all kinds of contexts. Why not find out what they are saying?

Some Feedback Tools

There are many formal and informal ways of soliciting feedback. Using a deliberate approach to getting feedback is particularly valuable in helping to identify blind spots. It can also help you sort through the tricky landscape of overused strengths becoming weaknesses.

360 Feedback Tools

360 degree feedback tools can be invaluable for getting a comprehensive view. These tools enable your boss, your peers and your team to all rate you on various leadership dimensions and competencies. I find these tools work best when people take the time to offer comments and examples. I also highly recommend working with a coach to help you digest and take action on the feedback.

I have also seen many great examples of people doing this in a more informal way. Setting up time to get feedback from others, or using informal questionnaires to get feedback.

Informal Approaches

Even without formal tools, there are easy ways to open up the feedback conversation.

A simple, free online tool based on the Johari window, enables you to compare your perceived strengths to others you invite for feedback, click on this Johari Interactive tool to complete the assessment.

One reader, Sarah Parrish, recently sent me the questions she was using in her informal 360 poll. She has found the process and feedback valuable and so I share her questions.

· What are 3 words that you think of when thinking of my strengths?
· What are 3 words that you think of when thinking of my areas of improvement?
· Have you been able to benefit from working with me in the past? If so, how?
· Where could I have improved in our past interactions to help make your job easier?
· What makes me stand out from others either personally or professionally?
· What could I do differently to come off as more approachable?

I have also used a group approach with teams I lead. I have them work together on a list of feedback on what I am doing that is helpful, what they need more of, what they need less of, and how I am getting in their way. Then I come back in the room and we work together on solutions. This one can be risky and the team and relationships need to be in a mature place, but each time I have done it I have learned so much.

Asking questions about your leadership can be a fantastic way to grow. It’s vital that you are open and ready to receive it.

Please comment and share:

What ways do you collect feedback to improve your leadership?