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The Gift of Honest Feedback          

As we approach the holiday season, I’ve been seeing a lot of advertisements about gifts and giving thanks. This got me to thinking about gifts in leadership. I’ve learned that true and honest constructive feedback is a rare and important gift. Leaders absolutely need feedback to learn and grow, especially as they move up the proverbial ladder.   Some of my own best learning experiences came from coaching and honest, respectful feedback. One of the best ways to receive this type of feedback in a formal way is through a multi-rater assessment, also called a 360. Here are some tips on utilizing multi-rater assessments.

Utilize a broad set of evaluators: While it is tempting to only select evaluators that you think will write all positive comments, what value does that bring to your growth and development?  Obtaining feedback from people who see things differently than us can create invaluable insights.

Respect confidentiality: Most of the time people are much more comfortable giving all types of feedback confidentially. Most multi-rater tools are designed to ensure the feedback received is confidential generally organized by level (boss, peers, subordinates, customers). Respect your evaluators’ privacy and don’t try to guess who wrote which comment. You will usually be wrong and what good is this serving anyone?

Thank people for their time: It takes time and energy to give honest feedback. Be sure to authentically thank people for taking the time to be part of your growth and development.

Let people know what you intend to work on: People will feel empowered knowing their feedback meant something to you. Let the group of requested evaluators know the areas you will be working on strengthening and developing.

Refrain from getting defensive: Honest feedback can be just as difficult to give as it is to receive. Even if you don’t agree with a comment, accept that it is the honest feedback from another and simply seek to understand. A person will likely never give feedback again if you become defensive and remember honest feedback is truly a gift.

Ensure follow-up and action planning: A multi-rater tool is only as valuable as what we do with it. It takes time (at least 4-6 months) for people to adjust and change behaviors, even improving on strengths. Be sure to develop an action plan and have a partner or a formal coach to help you stay accountable. Additionally, check-in formally or informally 6-12 months later to learn the progress you’ve made.

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

-Ken Blanchard