The Day 360’s Are Obsolete


I  have a dream. Some may call it a fantasy, but I like to think of it as a real possibility. My dream becomes full reality before I leave this earth (I never claimed not to be ambitious!) when I see that we no longer need to use 360’s in our organizations because:

There are no toxic managers. Our successful organizations are filled with the right kind of leaders; those who are brilliant but balanced with attention to both the business and the  people side too. They truly “get” and act on the worn out maxim that “our people are our greatest asset” (but they don’t need to say this because it is so evident).

Leaders know – and act on –  being of service to followers. Our organizations are no long hierarchical. At last; the time has come when leaders understand that their role is to serve and not “running” our organizations and communities. They are instead orchestrating workplaces with significance and meaning for employees and customers.

Leaders receive honest feedback on a regular basis without asking for it. Leaders in our future don’t need 360’s to give them anonymous information on their behavior. Positive and “corrective” feedback is given freely and without consequences to the messenger. The leaders continually get better because they act on the feedback they receive. They know that by identifying less than helpful behavior and improving themselves, they will make the biggest impact on their organization and the bottom line.

Developing staff is as important as the bottom line. Leaders are paying full attention to assuring that there are new leaders with the potential to take their place when they leave. Their organizations don’t balk at allocating resources to develop a pipeline of leaders. Dare I mention that annual performance evaluations are also a thing of the past because leaders coach their staff on a daily basis?

Every workplace is a “best” one.  The idea that “you should be grateful that you have a job” is long gone. Instead, leaders are grateful to have the best employees working at their organizations. All of those “best places to work” contests have gone out of business because of the abundance of best places to work; it’s too hard to choose with so many contenders.

360’s are a featured item in the Leadership Museum. You walk into the Leadership Museum and are guided past wax replicas of ruthless leaders and famous consultants. You stop at a window that has an aging, yellowed 360 report and think, “What is that?”. You listen to the recorded history lesson and are astounded and saddened that such a thing ever existed.

What will you see when 360’s are obsolete?


I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

5 comments on “The Day 360’s Are Obsolete

  1. Nice one. At the top of my wish list is that everyone in organizations, from the top to the bottom, learns how to give constructive, strengths-based feedback. That takes great listening skills, courage and real caring, all of which are sadly underdeveloped in most companies I know – not to mention a culture that has trust as its foundation. If trust exists, all else can follow, and the 360 will follow the dodo. Thanks for the dream!

  2. Nice dream for the future – I do like it.

    It also evokes a question: are 360’s not one of the greatest opportunities for learning about one’s self? It’s very difficult to look at ourselves objectively (impossible, in fact), and I personally love experiencing a 360 because it allows me to hear how others experience me. 360’s help me to become aware of my blind spots and provide me with bi-annual opportunities to learn from the people who’s opinions matter most: those I work with and lead.

    While I love your vision, I personally hope that the 360 becomes even more engrained in the businesses in which I operate. For it to end up in The Leadership Museum, would be to rob me of some of my most significant learnings.

  3. Karen,

    I like your dream even better! Thanks.

    Les,

    I like it that 360’s are being used. I use them extensively myself. Perhaps I didn’t do a good job of getting my point across – feedback, including the kind that provide you with some of your most valuable learning, those blind spots and opinions would still come your way. But not anonymously and in a conversational, safe, trusting environment. So you would still get feedback, just in a different (and I believe) better way.

  4. Mary Jo,

    Another great post. Ideally companies would use the best selection systems to source and promote the best leaders.

    Being a feedback junkie, I hired someone to do my own 360 – while things were going well. While the review didn’t reveal any big surprises, it helped me by pointing out some things that I could do better. It also helped my staff engagement by demonstrating that I was truly interested in their thoughts.

    Ideally 360’s should be used to help managers grow, not to fix problems.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. Thanks for stopping over with your comments, Kevin. I realize that when we don’t get any big surprises on our 360’s, that’s good news too – it means we’re pretty self aware, and provides us with some confirmation!

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