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360 Degree Feedback: Self-Perception & Blindspots

Open 360 Feedback assessments can seem daunting. Discussing your behaviour, talents, values, ethics and leadership can be deeply personal. However, when used effectively, 360 feedback can provide compelling insights to enhance self-awareness and overall performance. 

Here's how an Open 360 Assessment works, your boss, managers, colleagues and peers fill out a questionnaire about you, and you'll need to complete one too. Are you crisp and transparent in your communication? Articulate? Do you complete projects on time? Do you allow others to have a say? 

Though resulting Open 360 reports rarely contain unpleasant news, feedback can be unexpected, powerful and sometimes uncomfortable. What surprises most people is the potential learning that Open 360s deliver. Only a small amount of people (10-15%) have a grasp on who they truly are. Open 360 Feedback is an excellent way of helping employees to achieve self-awareness, the less glamorous leadership quality that's commonly overlooked.

Self-Awareness and the Johari Window 

Self-awareness is hardly a new concept in personal and leadership development. The Johari Window technique created in 1955 is used as a way to help individuals understand their relationship with themselves and others. 

The Johari Model suggests we all operate within one of the four quadrants at any given time, Open/Arena, Hidden or Façade, Blind Spot and Unknown. People move around these four 'windows' in any given day. Improving our awareness of our impact and sharing more of ourselves with others at work means we can spend more time in the "Open" space. Alternatively, we've all known people who seem to live perpetually in the Blind Spot area. 

An Open 360 feedback assessment operates in a similar way to the Johari window. Once relevant data has been collected from the 360 assessment, we can combine the findings into a Johari Window to support development. 

  • Open Areas: These are the behaviours that are known to the individual and the respondents. In an Open 360, these areas are indicated by a green traffic light and positive scores. The score between the person and the respondents are usually the same or very similar.
  • Hidden Areas: These are the strengths or qualities a person believes they have but are not known to others. In an Open 360, these are indicated by red or orange traffic lights depending on the gap in perception. More significant differences have a red traffic light, and smaller differences will be orange. The individual will have rated themselves higher than the respondents. This may include private information, such as ambitions and opinions, which the individual chooses to keep hidden for fear of negative feedback.
  • Blind Spots: These are the aspects others see, but the person does not. In an Open 360, these are the areas where the person has rated themselves lower than the respondents. The information in the blind spot can be positive or negative. The results may reveal hidden talents or areas for development. 
  • Unknown: These are areas not recognised by the individual or your raters. In these areas, the person gives themselves a low score and also receives low scores from the respondents. This may be because the behaviours are simply not needed in the environment or the person has not exhibited the skills. 

Self-Development

An Open 360 helps to highlight areas strengths and development areas in particular competency groups. An Open 360 evaluation is essential to development, as most people are not aware of other's understanding or feelings toward them. 

Understanding others perception of you significantly improves your motivation to develop weaker areas. Awareness of gaps between your self-perception and your managers, peers and direct reports perception, helps you to become aware of others expectations, as well as the consequence of your actions on others. You can then address these areas and make appropriate behavioural changes to enhance interaction and relationships with others. Better self-understanding can also contribute to increased communication and transparency among team members, enabling the team to perform at a higher level.

Creating Change

A few conditions are crucial for feedback to make a difference. Obviously, the person has to want to change. The process of completing the 360-degree feedback allows raters the opportunity to reflect on their own behaviour. They can also determine whether they need to improve their own performance to better align with others' expectations (Dominick et al., 1997). Leaders and managers who have a willingness to receive and act on the given feedback are likely to enhance their performance and team effectiveness. 

Feedback from the 360-degree assessment allows consultants and HR Practitioners working with the organisation to put together a personal development plan and if needed, additional team coaching. The Open 360s are best utilised when competencies are looked at singularly to reveal potential development areas, rather than to give an overall score of a person. 

Ideally, the information gained from the Open 360 should be supported by ongoing development activities such as leadership development programmes, coaching, or mentoring. This ensures the lasting change from the Open 360 assessment in your organisation.

"What feedback did was to improve the ability of people to work in teams. Their regard for others and behaviours that were damaging and self-centred changed." 

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