Are you getting any real feedback on your performance at work?
Faux Feedback Disguised as 360 Assessment
1. I was asked late last year to provide coaching for a middle manager. During the exploratory meeting, I asked his boss how he (the middle manager) responded to the performance feedback that led to the coaching solution. The boss responded in a very general way, shuffled a bit, and said, "I guess I should sit down with him again. But I think using some kind of 360 feedback tool would really be helpful."
2. January brought about another coaching request at the executive level. Similar initial conversation, similar response, same "360 feedback tool" suggestion.
3. Three weeks ago...yep, it happened again. Along with the "360 might be helpful..."
My intuitive take: 360 Tools are seen by some as a way to satisfy the known need for feedback but to avoid having to provide it directly.
If the object of feedback were only to provide raw data, maybe that wouldn't matter. However:
Employees at all levels want feedback and direction first and foremost from their boss. That's the relationship that employees look to when making decisions about what to do, how to do it, and how well it's going. (
Dealing With Back-Door Feedback Through Front-Door Coaching
If you're a coach, then I will assume you adhere to this principle: You don't give feedback to a coaching client that he or she hasn't received from their boss. Period.
What to do?
I explained to each boss that I couldn't continue until their person had gotten all of the "what" and "why" feedback from them. That the coaching would be viewed as sneaky and unethical. And, that without the boss's direct contribution, it probably wouldn't have any real meaning.
The result? Each one agreed. This wasn't about an evil empire. It was about people who needed some help themselves.
So the first coaching session was with the boss to create the specific feedback and practice giving it.
And yes, we still did the 360 feedback because it really was desired by the people being coached.
What to take away: Be on the lookout for back door feedback requests and, regardless of your role, point people toward the front door before proceeding.
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