Find hidden strengths using 360 feedback

For decades, 360 degree feedback has been a commonly used process for evaluation and development of leadership skills for companies of all sizes. Typically, companies think to use 360 surveys to identify areas for improvement as it relates to leadership behavior and competencies. For developmental purposes and areas in need of work, 360’s can be a terrific tool. But a quality 360 report should go beyond just identifying those areas most in need of development. Additionally, the report should highlight both obvious and hidden strengths a leader may also possess.

The strengths named in the report may be a surprise to the leader, rather than expected. When these strengths are a surprise, they can be as eye opening for the leader as those behaviors identified as needing development. We like to call these hidden strengths (found opportunity). The opportunity lies not only with the company’s ability to capitalize on these strengths but also for the leader to perform their job with a greater sense of fulfillment and confidence. In addition, these strengths can be the exact tools that a leader needs to help accelerate their development plans.

From the Leader’s perspective

  • Poised for growth.

Understanding their strengths empowers the leader with the best possibility of growth because they have a good idea of how they learn and what they are naturally good at.

  • Job Satisfaction

Being aware of one’s strengths leads to greater job performance because they understand where they can contribute the most for the organization. This leads to greater job satisfaction for the leader.

  • Increased happiness

When leaders feel like they are performing, have a greater sense of accomplishment and believe their company is interested in their growth, that naturally leads to a happier leader. Happier leaders in turn contribute more to the overall mission of the organization.

From the Company’s perspective

  • Message of commitment

Identifying and appreciating strengths of associates sends a message of commitment to the leader and builds a culture that creates a loyal and committed team.

  • Enhanced involvement in company initiatives

The more commitment an employee feels from the company and the more understanding of how their strengths contribute leads to a much higher engagement level from them at their place of work. Everyone wants to feel important and an understanding of your strengths and where your most notable contributions can be felt simply creates a more involved associate.

  • Increased bottom line

When strengths are highlighted and used properly within organizations, leaders are poised to drive results. Results lead to an increased bottom line because you are getting the most possible out of that leader.

How do 360 Surveys find hidden strengths?

The 360 feedback process works by asking groups of other people to rate a focal leader on a series of behaviors and competencies.  The definition of “other people” is segmented into rater groups which can include the manager, direct reports, peers, customers, indirect reports, etc. The participant also evaluates themselves on the same behaviors and competencies. All the ratings are done anonymously which tends to lead to more candid and accurate feedback. The end result of the surveys is a 360 report that identifies ratings as seen by each rater group and compares those ratings against the focal participant’s own perceptions of his/her performance. When the report identifies a rating by the focal leader in a particular behavior or competency that is significantly lower than the average of all other raters then you have identified hidden strengths using 360 feedback.

Developing a Strength

Most people think that you should always focus a development plan on those areas most in need of improvement (I.e., your lowest scores).  However, there are other schools of thought that discuss the value of developing your strengths instead of your weaknesses. Therefore, make sure the 360 report highlights both. The quality report should not only provide developmental suggestions for weaknesses but also suggestions on how to take strengths and make them better, as well as how to capitalize on those strengths to address weaknesses.  It is imperative the participant has a solid understanding of what their strength is and how they can continue to improve on it. The next step is putting and Individual Development Plan (IDP) in place to take what was found in the report and put an action plan in place that allows for the participant to continue to work on these areas.

Continuous improvement of strengths

Being aware of what your strengths is important. Identifying your hidden strengths using 360 feedback and having a plan in place that guides you on developing these strengths further is essential to making improvements. Ultimately having a mentor or coach that helps guide the focal participant through the improvement process can make a significant contribution to their long-term improvement. A good coach can help solidify the strengths into behaviors that provide a tremendous amount of value to the participant as well as the company. Learning should never end and the more focus that is put on the strengths and getting the most out of them will lead towards successful leaders and a company that reaps the benefits of a happy, high-performing leader.

Related Resource: 360 Degree Feedback – Your Complete Guide

Related Blog Post: 360 Feedback – How Coaching Can Improve the Process Exponentially