Are 360° Feedback Surveys Relevant Anymore?

Ever change lanes only to find another car right there? Blind-spot mirrors are helpful, if we pay attention. I look in the mirror every day when combing my hair. But it wasn’t until about six months ago, when my granddaughter took a picture of me from behind, that I realized I was developing a real bald spot. Although an emerging bald spot is no big deal – I gave up my modeling career about 40 years ago – trying to get two automobiles to occupy the same space can be dangerous!

Feedback Survey Form

Feedback Survey Form

Mirrors don’t lie, but they aren’t very good at telling the whole truth. They don’t tell us what people are saying about us “behind our backs.”  By focusing in front of ourselves, we are likely to see what we want to see, and hear what we want to hear.

We see what we want to see

Unfortunately, the higher we rise in an organization, the more likely it is that our perception will be distorted or incomplete. The more power we have or we project, the less likely we are to get accurate feedback from others. What we get, instead, is a reflection of how we want to see ourselves. We all want to see ourselves as successful, as complete.

To survive in our busy world we must be selective in what we pay attention to. We must filter out more than 98% of the sights and sounds coming at us. We do this unconsciously. Often, we unconsciously ignore or distort the information that is contrary to how we want to see ourselves. When critical input comes directly from others, we too often dismiss the source as uninformed. The blind spots we protect most fiercely are often those most likely to kill our careers!


In 360° feedback surveys, “blind spots” are the biggest gaps between self-ratings and the ratings of others. When I study blind spots on the more than 20,000 surveys we’ve done, two huge disconnects stand out. The first is delegation, and the second is measuring performance. Both are critical to our advancement as managers of people. They go hand-in-hand. Managers who don’t effectively track performance won’t be very comfortable delegating, since they won’t have an objective means of holding people accountable. Conversely, a manager who doesn’t delegate won’t need to measure performance results. Failing to learn to delegate effectively will relegate us to low-level supervision for the rest of our careers!

Why is there such a disconnect? Why would we think we are delegating enough and managing to results when everyone around us disagrees?  Why do we ignore hints that we aren’t giving them enough to do? And can we know what they say behind our backs, where the mirror can’t see?

Seeing behind your back

In my experience coaching thousands of leaders, it is clear that those of you who seek out honest feedback and take action to improve – even if you can’t see the need directly – rise more quickly and go farther in your careers. You trust others to see you better than you see yourself! One effective way to get honest input is through 360° feedback. Using a tool such as Pinpoint Performance™ allows us to hear what people are saying (or thinking) about us behind our backs, especially when they are unwilling to say it to our face.  It is easy and it is inexpensive. The benefits?  Just ask people who’ve had 360° feedback – or look at the back of my head!

If you would like more information conducting better 360° surveys  for your company, contact a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a complimentary consultation to discuss your company’s needs.


Source: Jeff Grip, Pinpoint Performance Blog, Witmer & Associates

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14 Responses to “Are 360° Feedback Surveys Relevant Anymore?”

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