You’ve Asked For Feedback – How to Receive the Results

So much thought and detail go into the process of facilitating a 360 that it can be hard to believe anything might be left out. But there is, and it’s the step that leaves you most alone. If you’re a leader who has received 360 results in the past or who expects a 360 in the future, be prepared for the most difficult step: receiving the feedback.
It looks like this. You were given the opportunity to get feedback on your leadership, and you’ve been a participant in a 360 degree profile. Today is the day you get your results. You know you’ll have the chance to meet with a coach or HR representative to debrief the feedback. That’s ideal. But before then, you need to read through the packet.
In that packet are the assessments of your boss, peers and direct reports, all telling in you in no uncertain terms how you’re doing. Do you fold back the cover and just dive in? Do you keep it closed until your coach comes in to tell you what it says? Do you read every line and go into either deep depression or denial? I’ve seen all of these approaches, and believe me, none of them are very effective. In fact they can be very detrimental.
To get the most out of your 360, follow a few guidelines to receive the results in a more constructive way.
Get the right mindset. Take a moment before opening your results to get the right mindset for the rest of the process. Decide: do you want to be an open-minded learner and use the information that’s coming to you to power up your career? Or do you just want to get the dirt on yourself and walk away bitter and confused? A negative knee-jerk reaction is more common than you might think. It’s best to guard against it in advance, in case a comment catches you by surprise. It might even help to prepare a kind of verbal reminder that you can repeat anytime you feel yourself slipping into defensiveness, like “I am open and curious” or “I am ready to listen and learn.”
Just read.
For many people, this is the most difficult step of the entire 360: actually reading the feedback. The first time through, throw off the pressure and just read it from beginning to end. Make no judgments. Let the emotions flow. Just see what’s there.
Know that both good news and bad news can be challenging to read. The bad news can be a challenge, because it can be hard to understand and swallow. The good news can be a challenge, because you might dismiss the praise you get. As you read your feedback, give yourself a pep talk and remind yourself to receive it in the spirit in which it was intended, and the spirit in which you requested it. Your feedback is for learning. You do not have to accept everything you hear, and you do not get to reject everything, either. It is all just information.
Highlight the report.
After you’ve been through the feedback once, read it a second time with a highlighter and a pen, making notes as you go along about your questions, observations, and ideas.
Summarize the feedback.
Once you’ve given your feedback a good going-over, it’s time to cull through it and pull out the most important points. First, find the most positive comments – the ones that build you up. Don’t skip this step and be tempted to just focus on your weaknesses; your strengths are a tremendous asset. This is where you excel. Then find three of the more negative comments. These may sting, but they’re valuable, so write them down. Finally, collect some of the ideas that you most want to remember, along with any other
questions and ideas that come up.
The last phase of this process is to reflect on your feedback. After you have read your data and collected the most important information, actually put it away and think about the feedback as a whole to see what you’ve learned. Are there recurring themes? Surprising trends? Obvious issues? Results to celebrate? You may choose to journal about this in writing, but some people would rather just mull the questions over. This is also a great time to pull in a coach or a mentor and start discussing the answers to your questions and your learning from the feedback.
The goal of this careful process for receiving your 360 is to take a thoughtful, thorough approach that helps you internalize what you’ve learned. Only then can the results have the desired effect and help you be the leader you were meant to be.