December is a month of mixed emotions in the workplace. The festive mood of office parties, gift-giving and good cheer sharply contrasts with the fear and anxiety related to getting and giving year-end performance reviews.
There are many different types of reviews that are given, both formal and informal. Sometimes it takes the form of a simple sit-down meeting with your boss. At the other end of the spectrum, you may find yourself involved with what's known as a 360 survey, where information is solicited and conveyed anonymously from an individual's superiors, peers and subordinates.
Whether you are the subject of a 360, or are one of those people in someone else's circle whose views are being sought out, it is important to move beyond your anxiety and appreciate the potential value these reviews can provide.
Because they involve soliciting, collecting, analyzing and relating data from multiple sources, 360 reviews are complex. To be well done, they require special expertise in formulating the questions and follow-up coaching, according to Merom Klein, a business psychologist and director of Courage International Business Advisors. He has conducted thousands of 360 reviews for client companies over a period of decades and was interviewed for this article.
Klein relates that many current high-level executives attribute their ability to jump to the highest corporate rungs to engaging in 360 surveys and taking their results as a "call to action" when they were at lower levels within their company's infrastructure. He offers these insights and tips to bear in mind if you are tapped to be the subject of a 360 survey:
1. It's a good thing to get a 360 review. "If you're selected for a 360, remember companies usually only do them for people they are interested in promoting or tapping for something larger," Klein says. If you are the subject of such a review, relish it as an opportunity to gain better insight about how others view you, and as the formulation of a plan to further improve your professional performance.
2. Be open to the data. You won't serve yourself well if you take a defensive or argumentative posture when confronted with negative comments or assessments. Instead, use the information you glean as a guidepost for your own development and growth. "Take a risk, and don't blow it off by saying, 'They didn't really know me that well,' or 'They must have misinterpreted the questions.'"
3. Be thankful for the data. Klein urges, "Remember that people giving 360 feedback are usually just as nervous as you about receiving it, even when they are promised it's anonymous. Thank them for what they told you and the investment and risk they took telling you the truth, as they see it, and for doing it in a spirit that contributes to your growth."
4. Be rigorous in using the data. Most companies and coaches that use 360 reviews have an individual development plan they use to take the data, turn it into insight and take that insight and turn it into a personal step-by-step process for improvement. "It can feel like a bunch of bureaucracy because of the number of forms and personal journals you'll get," Klein says. "But it's really where the rubber meets the road."
Klein says if you are in a super-competitive environment, you might be tempted to throw someone under the bus as a way to promote yourself when giving your evaluation of him or her. "Don't do it," he says. If what you say is significantly different from what others are saying, you will likely expose yourself as an outlier in the survey and do yourself more harm than your intended victim.
Under normal circumstances, people don't look forward to criticism from others. You have a choice. View your review as an indictment of your past or as a call to action for the future. If you choose the latter, you will no doubt perform in your current job more productively and set yourself up for promotion to a higher level. When it comes to hunting for a new job, there can be no better foundation than excelling at the one you currently possess.
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.
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