A 360-degree assessment is a unique survey that uses input from self-assessment and from colleagues’ assessments to understand a professional’s strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots. By gathering feedback from your colleagues alongside your own perspective on those same questions, we can get a deeper look at how your self-perception compares to the way your colleagues see you.
With this data, we can break down the results of a 360-Degree Assessment into three outcomes:
1) Somebody has underestimated their abilities (self-rating lower than colleagues’ ratings),
2) Somebody has overestimated their abilities (self-rating higher than colleagues’),
3) Somebody is self-aware about their abilities (self-rating matches colleagues’).
This article is going to address some possible problems and solutions that might arise for people who are self-aware of their abilities. This article is part of a series I’m writing about Ambition In Motion’s 360-Degree Assessments and how their results should be interpreted. There are ten other articles addressing the two other possible outcomes of a 360-Degree Assessment available here:
Overestimating - People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management
Understanding Self-Awareness for 360-Degree Assessments
When somebody is self-aware about their abilities, this means that they gave themselves a similar score as the score their colleagues provided on the same skill.
Initially, self-awareness may seem to be a cut-and-dry positive outcome but looking a bit deeper reveals some potential issues. After all, the goal of a 360-degree assessment is to identify blind spots and close the gaps between one’s self-perception and the perception of their colleagues. However, we find that there are opportunities for growth within a self-aware 360-degree assessment report and this article will review those opportunities.
At Ambition In Motion, our 360-Degree Assessment has 5 core components:
While self-awareness is likely the best outcome relative to the other two possibilities, I’m next going to explain how you can leverage self-awareness to grow as a professional and identify blind spots in your professional perspective. I’m going to show why self-awareness on your 360-Degree Assessment is more than just a pat on the back, even if you and your colleagues share similar views on your performance.
Innovation is a critical skill to possess in any working environment, even (and probably especially) if your role requires you to follow strict protocols and procedures. Innovation stretches across one’s willingness to pursue new activities or actions that can drive different results, ability to incorporate others in the innovation process, and propensity to challenge conventional thinking.
If your score was self-aware with your colleagues, it can mean that you gave yourself a high score and your colleagues agreed or you gave yourself a low score and your colleagues agreed.
Self-Awareness but poor performance
Innovation is an interesting component to work with because there is a relatively wide gap between being innovative and others knowing that you are innovative.
The reason for this is because innovation is time-intensive, difficult, and requires persistence. And to put it simply, not everyone is willing to put in the work needed to innovate.
For this reason, if we choose to stick with a problem and try to identify a better solution, sometimes we can ostracize ourselves from others because we may fear that they won’t be as motivated as we are to focus on identifying the solution.
If this is the case, others have no idea that what we are doing is innovative.
Another common characteristic of those that are innovative is humility. Innovation is a never-ending pursuit. Because of that, many people who are innovative at heart will rate themselves low on innovation. Instead, they may focus more on where they want to be rather than where they are now.
You may be on the other side of this coin where you actually don’t believe you are innovative. You might think that you don’t invest the time, hard work, and persistence necessary to come up with innovative solutions at work. This could be because of lack of opportunity, lack of knowing what to do, or just lack of interest.
If you lack interest in being innovative, there probably isn’t much here that is of interest to you. And that could be totally fine because some roles don’t require constant innovation. Instead, these types of roles demand consistency and perfection for crucial, yet repetitive, tasks. And this type of work can allow the person to live the life they want to live outside of work and not have to invest their limited time on the next big breakthrough.
But if you feel like you lack opportunities or are unsure of what to do, becoming more innovative starts with you putting in the effort. Take a moment to jot down all the components of your work that frustrate you or your colleagues. Imagine an ideal world where your boss immediately implements your ideas and gives you the budget to follow through – how would you alleviate those frustrations? Once you have identified the ideal version of the solution, take a step closer to reality and think about how that idea or an idea similar to that idea and achieves a similar result could be done on a minimal budget. Once you have identified the minimal budget idea that would minimize frustrations, take one more step closer and think about how that idea could be implemented in a way that has minimum impact on the way your team or boss does their work. Finally, now comes the part where you must take a chance: testing out your idea. You should (usually) ask your boss for permission if you feel it is required, but the dirty little secret here is that the preferred method is just taking the plunge and going for it. Most change initiatives are met with reflexive resistance, and sometimes you will need to be decisive to innovate. If it works you are a hero and if it doesn’t, what is the worst that could happen? If you think the worst thing that could happen is really bad - like getting fired or hurting somebody, ask for permission. But if the worst that could happen is a lecture about why you shouldn’t have done that, I would give it a shot.
Once you start getting into the practice of innovating, invite others to join you in the innovation process. By including others, you empower them to be innovative and build upon your shared experience and perspective, reducing the chance that a blind spot will turn your innovative ideas into creative disasters. As an additional benefit, humans are social creatures, and collaboration makes the team more supportive of innovative thinking.
One example of this was when I studied abroad in China. I have always been fascinated by business and entrepreneurship and I loved (and still love) to discuss entrepreneurship with my friends (and really anyone who was willing to engage with me in conversation). Many of my friends that I studied abroad with in China had wealthy parents who had expat friends living in China. My friends knew that these expat friends were going to talk about business and entrepreneurship when they took them out for dinners. So, when my friends attended those dinners with these expat venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, I was the friend they invited to tag along because they knew that I would chat about entrepreneurship with them.
The point of this story is that what you put out you receive back (law of attraction). If you put out that you are interested in innovating on components of work that are frustrating, others will approach you to innovate AND consider you a more innovative person.
Self-Awareness and high performance
If you gave yourself a relatively high score for your innovation and your colleagues agreed with you, that is great, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t room for growth.
People can only base their perception of somebody or something based on what they have already experienced. If they are used to work styles that aren’t conducive to innovation, they might have an overly generous view of your own innovativeness. That is not to say that your actions aren’t innovative, but it does mean that you should question and challenge yourself to see if you can be more innovative.
Innovation is not a destiny, it is a journey. To convey this point, I like a story Tony Robbins has shared. Tony Robbins is a popular motivational speaker and at one of his events, one of his attendees mentioned to him “In 3 years, I am going to be where you are at!”
Tony’s response was “That may be true, but when that time comes you will be where I was 3 years ago!”
Overall, having a self-aware response on your 360-degree assessment report isn’t a free pass to give in to stagnation. It simply shows that you and your colleagues are on the same page. But, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement. The implications from having a self-aware score are not wholly positive or wholly negative. Instead, it is a snapshot of your current performance which can help you make informed decisions about where you need improvement. As long as you possess an open-mindedness about making improvements and are willing to measure whether the new changes worked, you can ensure that you are on a positive track towards continual growth and improvement.