Not Sure Where to Begin with 360 Degree Feedback? Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

I manage a large team in Silicon Valley. My peers and I recently went through a 360 degree feedback process and I received a big report with everyone’s opinion about how I can be more effective. The feedback was fine; nothing too negative.

Here’s my problem.

I know I need to work on some areas, but I am completely overwhelmed by this report. How do I choose what to focus on? We have internal coaches in the company, but it takes weeks to get an appointment. And how will they even know how to help me? Right now I am just kind of stuck.

What do you think?


Dear Stuck,

Those reports are indeed overwhelming. Many organizations provide 360 recipients with a coach to help process and debrief the reports and build an action plan for exactly this reason. You didn’t mention which assessment was used so I can’t give you detailed instructions, but I do have a few ideas.

Does your report provide you with any information on how to read and interpret the results? Some competencies are more critical than others for your particular job role, and the report should point those out to you. You might have to read through the report a couple of times and get used to how the data is laid out. Here are some key places to look:

  • Blind spots: The areas where you rate yourself higher than everyone else may indicate a blind spot where you may think you are more effective than anyone else does. The bigger the difference in how you see yourself and how others see you, the more attention you may want to pay to narrowing the gap.
  • Hidden strengths: Similarly, the areas where you rate yourself lower than all of the other raters may indicate hidden strengths. These are areas where you are doing well and aren’t that aware of it. Hidden strengths are good to understand—these are areas to lean on and possibly build on for your future career.
  • Trust your gut: I would submit to you that before you did the 360, you already knew where you might need to focus to be more effective. Most of us know what we need help with and are hoping nobody notices, and a 360 feedback report will confirm what we probably already knew.
  • Low hanging fruit: Perhaps there is one area you could work on immediately that wouldn’t be that difficult. The one thing I know for sure is that no one succeeds at giving themselves a personality transplant no matter how hard they might try, so I suggest you choose something to work on that you can actually do. To figure out what that might be, make a short list of things you know you should be doing or you should stop doing and then choose one of those things you can commit to. Maybe it is as simple as stop interrupting people, or more complicated like spend 15 minutes of dedicated time per week with each direct report.
  • Ask your boss: Put a short list of all the different things you could work on and ask your boss which of those things he or she thinks is most important.

As you read through your report again—slowly, while breathing—one or two things will present themselves as possibilities to you. If you stay calm you will notice them. Don’t choose more than three things to work on; that’s about the limit of what you will be able to do. Ultimately, no matter how much help you get, you will have to be the one who decides where to put your focus and energy.

Finally, don’t worry too much about it. Take what you can from the experience and leave the rest. A person can only do so much.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

2 thoughts on “Not Sure Where to Begin with 360 Degree Feedback? Ask Madeleine

  1. Thank you Mad for a very relaxed approach to what can often be a tense situation – receiving 360 feedback. I especially appreciated what you said about blind spots. That the bigger the difference in how one see themselves, and how others see them, the more attention they may want to pay to narrowing the gap. That’s
    very valuable advice.

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