Have you ever considered conducting a 360* review on yourself? Do you know what they are? I was somewhat reluctant to go through one, but wow, what a useful experience! Wish I had done it earlier in my leadership career.

A 360* review provides you (and you alone) with formalized, qualitative feedback on your performance as assessed by certain employees and interpreted by a specialist HR consultant. A good consultant (usually an outside resource) will help you develop an action plan to address any performance areas needing attention.

In a 360* review, you select a group of colleagues to answer, individually and confidentially, a number of multiple-choice questions about your performance. The group of respondents consists of individuals from three levels of the organization: your boss, several colleagues who are on the same organizational level as you and finally, several of your subordinates/direct reports. You also fill out the assessment on yourself so you can track your responses and compare them to the other groups’.

You will receive feedback on a group-basis only, so there is no way to trace specific responses to specific individuals-except for your boss’s responses, since that only involves one person.

I had a real awakening! I learned three things about my leadership style that I did not know.

First, I learned I was emphasizing too many issues and details in my employee presentations and Q&A sessions. Employees became confused about priorities and therefore had difficulty making decisions.

SOLUTION: I realized that as CEO I and I alone own organizational vision. I shaped all my presentations and employee meetings to our vision and direction. I agreed to stay out of the details and the team enthusiastically accepted its role and responsibility to execute on the details of our plan.

Second, I learned the respondents felt I could raise the “heat” on the organization to take on our big challenges, grow, stretch and become all we could be. They felt we all would benefit from my raising my personal and the team’s risk-taking factor. The felt the organization could handle the “white water” that would result from forcing people to step up, or out…

SOLUTION: I identified and we ultimately resolved three complex challenges with  both internal and external implications. One, we removed and replaced  marginally-performing, long term external partners without disrupting the rest of the field system. Two, we begin holding everyone-internal partners and employee- to a higher level of accountability and acceptable performance. Three, we conducted and took significant action on a market study of our clients’ needs and expectations of us.

Third, the respondents felt I needed to lead the organization in celebration of its successes more. The thinking was, our employees would appreciate being celebrated and respond favorably if I provided more opportunities for public recognition of individual, department, and organizational successes.

SOLUTION: We added several simple but effective practices to identify and celebrate achievements. They included: small, but meaningful spot bonuses; opportunities for employees and teams to present and explain significant breakthroughs they developed with the staff and external partners as appropriate; finally, we did a lot more “managing by walking around” and engaging one on one with staff, not just breezing through the departments. They loved it!

360’s are a good idea and a powerful resource to help a leader succeed!