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Self-Awareness and the Power of 360’s

Authored by: Managing Partner Roger Pearman

When you think about the importance of self-awareness in development, there is no better avenue for understanding the affect of your behavior on others than through the use of multi-rater surveys.  In a multi-rater survey, customers, direct reports, peers, bosses, and others are asked to indicate how often, how effective, or how important selected behaviors are in their experience of you.  And, we would not be surprised if Peers or Customers had very different perspectives than Direct Reports and Bosses.  The richness of the perspectives speak to contexts.

Bottom Line

Insights are gained by looking at the trends between the rater groups. Do the groups have similar higher and lower ratings?  If the trends are very different, do these suggest something about the nature of the relationships which should be explored? How similar or different are the ratings between oneself and the other groups? Is there evidence that you have hidden strengths—others see behavior much more frequently or effectively than you do, or that you have blind spots—behaviors you feel you show a great deal more of, yet are not experienced as frequent or effective by others?

The quality of the insights is dependent on three factors

  1. The experience of the interpreter
  2. The relationship between you and the interpreter,
  3. The validity of the survey.

So if you want to maximize the data generated from a multi-rater experience, select a survey that is evidence based and an interpreter who has experience and with whom you have a great deal of confidence.

Let’s focus on the 360 survey.

Are the items (questions or survey statements to be rated) clear, objective and incisive? Are the items inclusive of all of the arenas (e.g. visioning, building teams, planning, etc.) important to your effectiveness? Have the items been evaluated as reliable? Do they include comparative norms?

We found an additional element of multi-rater surveys is important: are the survey questions relevant to the work at the appropriate level in an organization? The Roles and Practices of those who are individual contributors is different from those who are Managers or who are at the Executive level of organizations. Many surveys are too general, attempting to cover all positions.  In fact, the feedback an Individual Contributor needs for increasing effectiveness is qualitatively different from that of Managers or Executives.

“The ending is contained in the beginning”

As suggested by philosophers of the past, the “ending is contained in the beginning.”  So the quality of the insights to be gained from multi-rater tools begins with the survey itself.

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