Folk often approach their 360 feedback report with some trepidation, which is understandable. Often there are no surprises, but at other times there can be, for example where there isn’t a culture of co-operation between departments, or relationships aren’t particularly open and honest.
The one aspect that can strike the most dread is facing the revelation of how your line manager really rates you, closely followed by the discomfort of wondering how to deal with a difference of opinion with your boss. Like receiving any feedback, the first thing to do is try to understand where the other person – in this case your boss- is coming from. What behaviour of yours have they observed? What opportunities do they have to assess you?
It is true that sometimes a line manager will rate a team member lower than the individual had hoped. It’s worth bearing in mind that each individual has their own ‘compass’ of an appropriate rating. Remember at school, when there was always one teacher that was known as a ‘hard marker’? The one that gave you consistent B’s when everyone else gave you A’s? It can happen in 360 reports too. Scores need to be viewed in context with other information. What does the free text say? What feedback do you get from your boss by other means?
There are choices with feedback. You can choose to accept it, reject it, or accept part of it. This is not so easy when the feedback is from your boss. Before you speak to them, try to get clarity about what it is you need to understand. It’s not uncommon for issues to arise because the boss isn’t seeing the full picture. They may not realise how much time and effort some tasks take. If this is the case, you need to think about your own PR and make sure that your boss does have an accurate view of your work. Can you improve lines of communication?
These two questions are also worth considering before you sit down with your manager:
- How clearly do you understand what they expect from you?
- How do you ensure that your boss is fully aware of the work you do?
Once you fully understand what is expected, and your boss fully grasps the work you do, uncertainty is reduced and you are in a good position to address skills gaps.
Author of Face to Face in the Workplace