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The Value of 360 Feedback

A business man looks shocked at what he's seeing on the tablet he's holding.

C: Welcome to Slingshot25’s Shotcast, a series of bite-size podcasts that’ll feel like an espresso shot to your brain. I’m Courtney. 

J: And I’m Jackie.

C: And something we’ve been talking about a lot lately and I think it’s coming up in the Tough Conversations class is where I hear a lot is the value of 360 feedback. One of the things that we’re noticing is that people love them. They’re married to 360s and how valuable they are and we kind of pause because there’s some things around 360s and feedback that deserve a pause and some questioning. Because one of the things where you want to ask and challenge people to think about when they’re so attached to 360s is what’s the real value you’re getting? And kind of from two lenses, you don’t always get everything you think and part of it’s because of how the sender sends the feedback, and part of it’s in how we receive feedback. So we want to unpack that a little bit in today’s episode. 

J: Shall we do that? I want to talk about the sender because I work a lot with leaders and they are often the sender. So let me talk on the sender side of things so one of the things that we know about when we give feedback is that we tend to have a lot of biases creep into that. And biases about how the world should be all of that creeps in and we also tend to pay more attention to our own shortcomings –  like when we have a problem. 

C: I was trying to think if there was any, sorry.

J: Oh, I assure you do. We’ll talk more after this session and hopefully, I fall into the loving critics category which we’ll talk about here in a minute. But we you know we have our own sort of sensitivities to certain things and so we’re we have our Spidey senses are much more attuned to those kinds of things. So those kinds of biases you know so just like we tend to just like number one. The second thing is that you know we don’t like to give tough feedback so when there’s a hard truth we tend to say nothing – at best. At worst, we actually lie to make it more comfortable and we put some sugarcoat on that. So you know, that’s kind of where we start with feedback is just and it and it ends in this place of people don’t really give feedback that is the truth most of the time. And we don’t teach people to do that very well. I mean we throw open the door for 360s or 270s depending on where you’re at in the organization and we just assume that the people who are going to give you feedback that’s good feedback. I think you started this just by saying we’re sort of in love with this idea. But we’re in love with it in a way that causes us not to pause and think about what are we actually throwing the doors open to and you know what kind of dynamics of it. So that’s kind of what most senders do. I already mentioned there’s his idea of loving critics, loving critics are who we want to get feedback from, but before we talk about loving critics maybe we should just talk about what happens when the kind of senders that I was talking about when they put feedback out for you what happens when the person receives it? 

C: Right, junk in, junk out. Now that person has given me something and now I’m the receiver. I was recently with a group and I’m asking them so when you get your 360 feedback what do you do with it? And people just lie to themselves. We talked about loss aversion and how our brains are wired for the negative more than the positive. So when you get 360 feedback, the first thing you do is look at all the bad stuff. You can get 900 good comments and you get one that says your shoes squeak. And you’re going to be like, ugh, I can’t believe my shoes squeak. We gravitate, it’s our brain’s wiring. We can’t help it, that is how our brains are always going to look for the negative so we filter out all the good. Okay, how is that valuable? If you have 90% of the stuff you don’t even look at because it’s not negative, that’s not very effective. And then with the 10% that’s left or maybe it’s 1% that’s left, what’s the very first thing you do when you get it?  I had this class say, oh I look at it. No, you don’t! You try to figure out who said it. It’s more about the who than it is the what it’s the feedback’s not getting in. And if it’s a negative comment we assume that someone who doesn’t like us or someone we don’t like and trust sent it to us. So now, rather than taking the feedback and letting it land, we start building a defense case, right? We start we call up our friends who know us and love us and say,  Hey, I got a 360 that said, I’m obnoxious and my jokes aren’t funny. Do you think that’s true? And they say, no, you’re not obnoxious and your jokes are hysterical and I have this lined up wall in defense of the feedback. And so when you take that in each stop point I get junk in I run it through a filter I don’t pay attention the good stuff so I don’t let that help me grow then I run it through who said it filter and I don’t like them so now I build a wall of defense…What actually out of that process helped me grow? And it’s honestly not enough. It’s not nothing, but you have to pause and question and be curious about what’s enough. And that begs the question about what is good feedback and that leads back to the loving critic.  

J: Loving critics are people of course that we have a relationship with and that we have built a relationship with. It is someone who actually cares about us, hence the loving part of the critic. It’s someone who actually cares about us who cares about where we go next, cares about us on a personal level. And you have to work at getting those people, they’re not just casual acquaintances. You have to work and build your network in advance and let them know what your aspirations are – what you’re trying to do to build your skills. Again 360s are canned systems that ask generic questions. And although you tend to get to select your reviewers, you know you’re encouraged to get this sort of balance in all the reviewers and you end up with a field of people that you know don’t all meet the idea of a loving critic. But loving critics are the people that will tell you (Courtney your shoes squeak) So they’re the ones that will tell us that because we have a relationship with them and they see us and some of their biases in their own sort of shortcomings.

C: I love it all right I think that’s all for our episode. That’s a lot! We have for this episode of our Shotcast but we always have much more to say if you want more drop us a line at Until next time….

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