I recently took part in a 360 degree appraisal process, which involved receiving feedback from people I line manage, my line manager and other colleagues in the management team and in more senior positions.
The appraisal takes the form of a booklet with nearly 100 statements which are divided into the following categories:
- Getting information, making sense of it; problem identification
- Communicating information, ideas
- Taking action, making decisions, following through
- Risk-taking, innovation
- Administrative/organisational ability
- Managing conflict; negotiation
- Selecting, developing, accepting people
- Influencing; leadership, power
- Openness to influence, flexibility
- Knowledge of job, business
- Energy, drive, ambition
- Time management
- Coping with pressure, adversity; integrity
- Self-management, self-insight, self-development
Here is an example of a statement: “Shows mastery of job content; excels at his/her function or professional specialty”.
For each statement, the person completing the booklet marks a box to indicate that this skill is a strength or an area that needs developing. If they do not feel strongly either way, both boxes are left blank.
I completed a booklet assessing myself, and the other members of staff each completed a booklet assessing me. All these data were combined to show how my skills are perceived by the group of respondents. The process is anonymised, and the feedback only identified the evaluation I gave of myself and my manager’s responses.
When I had to complete the booklet for myself and for other people, I often found it difficult to mark a skill as an area which needed developing as the form does not allow any comment or justification, and I frequently felt that I wished to explain why I had marked that skill as an area for development. There was also no way to distinguish “needs developing” responses given for different reasons, such as “needs developing because their skills in this area are very weak” from “they’re not doing badly here but could improve further”.
All members of the management team at my workplace took part in this process (the departments we are responsible for are: Library, IT, Finance, College Office, Accommodation & Facilities, Conferences, Estates, Development Office, Catering; plus the College Bursar). Once the booklets had been completed and the data analysed, we all had 1:1 meetings with Jerry Gilpin of Perception Development who guided us through our feedback.
I’ll admit, I found that meeting hard, even though when I look at my feedback now, it’s quite positive overall! I think all of us found that we worried more over a small “needs improving” area than congratulated ourselves about the things other people think we are doing well – I guess that’s just human nature.
Last year, I took part in a Springboard self-development course, and one of the most useful things I learned was to accept criticism as a gift. This doesn’t mean it won’t still hurt when someone does give you negative feedback, but I’ve found it helpful to try to accept the comment, step back and see if it has any justification, and if it does, do something to make things better.