Do you have a clear perception of your behaviour? Do you acknowledge and understand your strengths and areas for development? Do you know how your behaviour impacts your colleagues? Are you aware of your colleagues’ perception of you?

If you can answer those questions with a ‘yes’, then chances are you are more or less in control of your workplace relationships. If not, then you may have some work to do.

Perception vs. Reality

Think you are self-aware and have a clear understanding of your own thoughts, beliefs, motivations and emotions in a given situation? Time for a reality check! It is easy to think that we are good at our jobs, excellent communicators and provide the best levels of service to our clients, but is that everybody else’s perception?

Your peer in finance might agree, but what about your senior colleague in sales? How does the new office temp see you? Does your line manager share your views on which strengths and limitations you display in your job?

For a productive working environment, it is crucial to check that we are operating on the same page as our colleagues and not inadvertently behaving in a way that others may feel is disruptive or a barrier to success.

Regularly gathering information and feedback from all our colleagues will ensure that our own perception is as close to reality as possible. However, it is important to get that feedback process right so that it can be used constructively.

How important is feedback?

Feedback is essential for improving performance. It is the cheapest, most powerful and yet most under-utilised management tool that we have at our disposal. Feedback can be motivating, energising and has strong links to employee satisfaction and productivity. Regular feedback leaves people feeling involved and identified in their organisation.

“Working without feedback is similar to setting out on an important journey minus a map or signposts.” – Fiona Lang, Full Circle Feedback 2014

Covering all angles

Ad hoc feedback is always useful for personal development, but how can you harness that and create a formal process that will proactively support your progress?

360 degree feedback involves seeking confidential feedback from your key colleagues, direct reports, managers and sometimes even customers, to provide a well-rounded picture of how you are perceived across the business. These insights:

  • Are a powerful way of spotting performance gaps
  • Enable you to identify your level of self-awareness
  • Allow you to understand the impact you have on the rest of the organisation

When designed to analyse performance against critical competencies, 360 programmes also ensure that your training and development interventions are aligned with business needs and have maximum impact.

The 360 process

When implemented well, 360 can be really simple and yet incredibly valuable. Typically, it will involve feedback from 6-12 nominated respondents, which can be both internal and external.

You and your respondents will complete the same questionnaire, which involves rating your behaviours against relevant competencies, ranking the importance of those competencies to your job role and providing comments on key strengths and potential areas for improvement.


The majority of feedback collated is anonymous, which really helps to encourage truly open and honest feedback. The final report can then be used constructively within 1:1 appraisal sessions, to establish tailored personal development plans that benefit both the individual and the organisation.

What outcomes can I expect to see?

Businesses will implement 360 programmes for a variety of reasons (for example, to address issues of underperformance or to standardise their appraisal systems) but the potential benefits are universal.

Benefits to individuals: 

  • Deeper understanding of their strengths and development areas
  • Improved self-awareness and relationship management
  • Greater support in developing long term goals
  • Increased motivation – employees will work harder if they feel valued

Benefits to the organisation:

  • Stronger employee engagement – helping to build open and honest dialogues across the organisation
  • Improved employee retention – organisations that develop their people will keep them longer
  • Greater insight into the effectiveness of training and development programmes
  • Access to data to allow performance benchmarking
  • Tighter control over under-performance

Ciaran Morton, UK MD of Thomas International