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Skill development

360 FEEDBACK: the most powerful tool for skills development

eye 1997 Published on 08 Apr. 2021
tag ##SkillDevelopment

Powerful ! Yes, and that doesn’t even cover it. Few other tools are able to create such a strong impact on its users. Yet its operating procedure is simple—the 360 subtly sets to work on your motivation throughout the process, and to fulfil your various needs for self-improvement. In an exciting new way, it encourages you to take stock of your skills, by targeting the areas that need the most work and by turning you into an active stakeholder in your own personal development process. To see how it accomplishes this amazing feat, let’s get to the heart of its approach.

The effects kick in from the moment a participant decides to invest themselves in the process. This person is aware that this is a professional development tool, and that in conjunction with their self-evaluation, they will be reviewed by those around them. They must therefore carefully select multiple people who will each complete an in-depth analysis of their skill-sets. Reviewers will shed light on, for instance, the following: assertiveness, organisational skills, empathy, interpersonal skills, managerial courage, adaptability, etc. 

What really goes on at the heart of a 360 approach 

Let’s take adaptability as an example since it’s highly relevant today. How would you rate yourself on this skill? Do you feel as if you have complete mastery of it or quite the opposite, that it could use some work? 

When we analyse ourselves, we are naturally inclined to envision our reviewer’s stance on things. What image of myself do I present to others? Do they share my view? Does my manager think that I have mastered this skill? And what about my colleagues, how will they evaluate me?...
By completing a questionnaire about ourselves, the 360 triggers an internal reflection on our skills through the eyes of others. The image we have of ourselves is slowly brought into question and, without even knowing our results, we are unwittingly urged to consider our behaviour from a different vantage point. Because while some believe themselves to be highly adaptable to change, do their daily actions tell the same story to their peers?...

Feedback: the starting point towards change

Let’s say you’ve scored yourself quite highly on adaptability. Though this skill could use some improvement, you are confident in your ability and satisfied with it overall. But when you get your results back from your work colleagues, the verdict is in: you have scored quite badly. Feelings of surprise, maybe even incomprehension wash over you. This initial reaction can quickly give way to questions and reflection, an incentive for you to look back on past situations where you may have, or not, demonstrated this skill. You need answers, that’s normal, and you try to get your head around this discrepancy, which in itself is not that substantial, but which gets you thinking. You don’t want your colleagues to be left with this negative image of you, you want to summon up your energy and show that you are capable, that you have the potential to better yourself and that you can develop this skill. You will not let yourself be beaten!

This is a typical reaction, since it is human nature to want to present a positive image of ourselves, to seek approval in the eyes of others and to want to do our best. The 360 homes in upon this phenomenon and the results are a testament to its success. Never before has a tool brought about such strong reactions and been such a source of motivation for skills development. While getting back results remains a pivotal moment for triggering this desire for self-improvement, the aftermath is just as crucial in ensuring the continuing effects of the 360, since the following stage has the participant embark on concrete actions to further hone their skills. 

The participants’ task is to take in their results and to take ownership of any skills that are lacking. Keeping the constructive nature of this tool at the forefront of their minds, they need to grasp the scope of each of their skills and to re-evaluate their mastery of them, in line with their evaluators’ opinions. Participants will therefore have a clearer vision of the targets they should set themselves and will be able to decide on the best actions to achieve them.

Helen Simard

Consultant Psychologist

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