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Third in a series on how to best use 360 assessments.
The survey is complete, you've set yourself up to get the most value out of your 360 assessment, you have the feedback report in hand and you begin to read through it. And you start to freak out! No matter whether the scores and comments are relatively gentle or pretty blunt, many of us initially experience the feedback as a gut punch or a personal attack. Even though we may be our own worst critic, when we hear it from others we can feel attacked, made wrong, or disrespected. We can feel threatened and, in some cases, experience the physiological emotional responses of sweating, heart racing, and a feeling of panic. Criticism experienced this way challenges our safety, our need to feel valued, and to belong. In every day life, we rarely hear feedback that is so direct and blunt—this is not how we talk to each other.
Fortunately there are ways to handle feedback shock that allow us to hear, acknowledge, and learn from what others observe about us. In our coaching experience, we have found the following five ways of dealing with feedback shock to be effective in converting feedback into insights and learning.
These tips can be difficult to put into practice. Which is why having an external leadership coach can be so valuable at this stage. An experienced coach can help people sort through various emotions, not veer off track, and gain a perspective on what’s been said. A coach can help people discern patterns and themes and acknowledge the positive. Needless to say, it is almost impossible to move onto the next step of making sense of the feedback: how to sort through it all and find a focus area or two until one has dealt with feedback shock and its potential blinders.
From an organizational point of view, it is important to recognize that leaders will have a variety of reactions to their reports. Ensuring that the leader balances all feedback is the biggest hurdle to growing as a leader. As mentioned in the Set Your 360 Assessment Up for Success article, make sure that leaders are ready to hear feedback. Be proactive in the set up stage by communicating to leaders that this is likely to happen. Remember that you can’t change what happened in the past, but can focus on ways to move forward with solutions.
The first article in the series is here: Avoid Wasting the Rich Opportunity of Developmental 360 Assessments.
The second is the assessment series is here: Set Your 360 Assessment Up for Success.
You can find the fourth in the series at Making Sense of the Feedback: How To Sort Through It All and Find a Focus Area or Two.