When I started working with an executive coach for the first time a few years ago, the first thing she did was conduct a formal 360 review. Her rationale was that we all have blind spots and the best way to see them is to collect unbiased feedback from people you interact with everyday.
I sent emails to my team, my peers, and my manager letting them know what was happening, and thanking them in advance for taking the time to write thoughtful responses.
She then sent them all the same 3 questions:
- What should I continue doing?
- What should I start doing?
- What should I stop doing?
Over my next 3 sessions with my coach, we used our time to go through each area and the responses she received. Knowing what you’re good at and owning your strengths is as important to addressing and improving your weaknesses.
I can remember reading the feedback, and thinking that parts of it seemed downright absurd. When we talked through them, looking at each under the lens of every-piece-of-feedback-is-a-gift-and-has-some-truth-in-it, though, I was able to see where the other person may have had that perspective or view on my actions that I didn’t have.
What was the most interesting in this process though, was that my peers provided far more useful feedback than my team or my manager. This was likely because in our formal review process, and regular meetings, much of that up and down feedback was percolating in my direction, and so much of it wasn’t news.
But how often do you talk to your peers? How often do they share their perspectives on how you conduct yourself in meetings or interact with your boss? I was amazed at the valuable perspectives they had to offer.
In fact, the relationships we have with our peers can be some of the most valuable and more beneficial ones for our career.
Conduct your own survey
This week your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to conduct your own little 360 — well, it is more of a 180 — since your task is to reach out to your peers and collect their feedback. The objective is twofold:
- Help uncover blind spots
- Build and improve your relationships with the around you
And we are going to make it super easy for you! We have prepared some templates with some questions below. However, if you want a more formal 360 review with an impartial 3rd party, we can help you there too. But for now, on with the templates!
Since the feedback request will not be anonymous, and this email will come directly from you, it is best to focus the questions on positive things. Even when you have great relationships with people, it can be hard for them to give them you critical feedback. And it is even harder when you don’t have a great relationship. However, there are still lots of ways to get useful tidbits using positive, proactive, and forward-looking questions (and thankfully it is also something we specialize in at popforms!).
Who should I ask for feedback?
You can really ask anyone. However, you will get the best answers from people you work closely with and who have the chance to observe you at work. Don’t just stick to your friends though; be willing to go out on a limb.
Pick 5 people to send the email to this week. It may sound like a lot, but not all of them will have a chance to respond, and you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone and reach out to people you might normally shy away from asking.
Try to think of the people you see often in meetings. Or people that you really admire at work – you know the ones that seem to always get promoted and be in the good graces of management. Those are people you want on your side, and so they are fantastic options to send your survey to.
If you want feedback from your boss, you can also ask them. You can ask your mentors and people outside of the company, too. Just be open and willing to put yourself out there.
Feel free to modify this template. And if you have suggestions or other ideas on how to make it even better, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments.
Hello [ their name ],
I am writing to ask you a big favor. I have been working hard to improve my skills as a leader and an employee at [ insert your team or company here]. Since you are someone I respect and admire, I would love your perspective on what I am doing well, and areas where there are opportunities to do even better.
I am sure you see or hear things that I may miss, so any tips, ideas, or suggestions you have would be immensely helpful for me along my journey. I don’t want to take much of your time, but a 5-10 minutes response would be hugely helpful for my personal development.
Here are the questions:
- What should I keep doing?
- Is there anything I have done in the last 6-12 months that stood out to you as awesome work? What made it awesome?
- If I was to focus on something for my personal development over the next 6 months, what areas, skills, or activities would you recommend?
Thanks again for taking the time. It really means a lot to me, and I would be more than happy to return the favor, or buy you a coffee sometime soon.
[ your name ]
Go ahead and send the email. I would also recommend following up with them afterward in person. Explain your goals and ask them to be honest. Even if they just tell you things you already know that is so helpful because then you know where you are adding value and shining. Own it!
What are you waiting for? Compose those emails and let them fly. And let us know how it goes!