Karin’s Leadership Articles

Formal 360 feedback assessments 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 feedback tool 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, and off she went on a to conduct an informal DIY (Do It Yourself) 360 Feedback Assessment. 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 a “maybe there are some things I could be doing differently” open mind. She made the changes, and life got better– for everyone.

How To Conduct a DIY 360 Feedback Assessment

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”

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?

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Steve Borek

    Create an environment where followers are confident to give feedback without worry you’ll reprimand or belittle them.

    • Karin Hurt

      Steve, agreed.

  2. Tina Smagala

    Very pertinent questions…thanks for sharing. Another feedback/feedforward tool we are using is an online tool called Two-Minute Feedback. Just Google it and check it out.

  3. Jon Mertz


    Asking the questions is essential. As we hear the answers and feedback, we need to be aware of our reactions and continue to communicate an openness to what is being delivered. Part of this is our body language, and part of this is asking probing questions on what is being said to really learn more.

    Great points on the importance of getting feedback… and not waiting.


    • Karin Hurt

      Jon, Such an important add. Yes, even if we appear to be receptive our facial expressions may prove otherwise.

  4. Terri Klass

    Getting and processing honest feedback is so crucial to our growth. The key word is “honest” and that is sometimes hard to swallow.

    I think when we adjust our thinking to learning from the feedback rather than judging the feedback we may actually benefit. For me, it is always about how the feedback is delivered. When it is delivered with care and truth, it is extremely helpful.

    Thanks for a spot on 360 feedback tool!!

    • Karin Hurt

      Terri, thanks so much. A great way to adjust our thinking and get ready to hear.

  5. Lolly

    Feedback can by a tricky thing! Some are more open to receiving it than others, and some are more proactive in seeking it than others.

    I wrote about this “don’t ask, don’t tell” dilemma in regards to recognition at work. (Here’s a link if you care to check it out: http://bit.ly/1pOlNbr) Many of us aren’t happy with the amount of praise or recognition we receive from our manager (and peers), and a lot of the time it’s because we aren’t asking for it. The same concept can be applied to feedback as well, like you discuss in this article. I think the idea of the listening tour is a great for those up to the task!

    Personally, I’m always nervous to ask for and receive feedback, but it is essential for growth and progress and it can help prevent miscommunication and misunderstandings. Great article, Karin!

    – Lolly

    • Karin Hurt

      Lolly, Great to have you join the conversation. I loved your post on recognition. Thanks for sharing it here.

  6. LaRae Quy

    Agreed—honest feedback is the best way to grow!

    Sometimes it gets overwhelming when we try to take in too much information about a variety of areas. I really like your suggestion of limited the focus to one or two salient ones for the moment. You can always go back and add others at a later date.

  7. Alli Polin

    This is a really valuable post, Karin. A listening tour takes courage and a willingness to listen (duh!) and not defend. Some feedback needs time to be processed instead of responding or explaining. It’s also important to see trends vs one offs – both give a perspective.

    Absolutely love this one!

    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks so much. So agree… taking the time to process is vital.

  8. j. Neil Brown

    Requesting feedback on what you can do better is very tricky. You’re almost required to be willing, and have the time and energy, to follow up and follow through on improvements in your challenged areas. Another, not so palatable option, is to preface your discussion that you may not be able to commit to some of the improvements suggested.

    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks, Neil. I agree. You have to be committed to a least circling back. It’s your choice on what to improve, but I do think you must commit to a follow-up discussion.

  9. Alex Sandro Alves Miranda

    Afternoon, Karin! Excellent tool and very important by one clean feedback. Congratulations. Regards

    • Karin Hurt

      Alex, Thanks so much for your kind words.

  10. Alexis Kingsbury

    Great post Karin! Peer feedback can be so powerful when used well. You’ve done a great job of covering the key things to get right.

    When leaders consistently learn from feedback and put it into action, their personal development accelerates & their colleagues tend to relate to them far better.

    However, one barrier to people using this technique is often the ‘what now?’ (i.e how to turn the feedback into action) particularly when presented with a load of data and differing views.

    I’ve tried to provide some suggested ways to address this in a few short videos (if interested you can find them here: http://www.spidergap.com/360academy) but I’d be interested in your thoughts on this.

    • Karin Hurt

      Alexis. THanks so much for sharing your insights. Love your videos. It’s great when we can share our thinking and resources. Namaste.

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