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9.26.08 Issue #342 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Want To Be A Better Leader? It’s Time To Do A 360

As the Dental Leader, you are a significant key to the success or failure of your practice. You possess essential technical know-how. You control critical resources. You are accountable for business outcomes. But you don’t do it alone. You have to manage relationships with employees, patients, even vendors. How these individuals see you has a huge impact on your bottom line.

Want to be a better leader? It’s time to do a 360. As the term implies, it means going full circle. Also known as multi-rater feedback, 360 surveys allow participants to receive job-performance feedback from all levels of the organization. This strategy can yield results that will be returned exponentially.

In dentistry, as in businesses elsewhere, leaders rarely receive accurate feedback. The old adage, it’s lonely at the top, rings true. Direct, open feedback is in short supply in many organizations. Most employees are reluctant to give feedback to their boss, especially if it’s not positive. For this reason, the 360 survey provides developmental feedback to leaders from the people who surround them. It is a tool used by the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies today.

Why is it called “360”?

Imagine standing on a mountain top, seeing everything within three hundred and sixty degrees. The view would be circular. So too with a 360 survey—feedback is obtained in a circle. Leaders receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them. In a traditional organizational hierarchy, feedback comes from a person’s subordinates, peers and boss. In some cases, external sources such as customers and suppliers or other interested stakeholders are invited to give feedback.

360 feedback enables leaders to learn about their workplace behavior from several sources within the organization. It is collected electronically and with confidentiality. For feedback raters to be candid, they must have anonymity. The survey questions in a 360 cover a broad range of leadership competencies. The person receiving feedback also fills out a self-rating survey that includes the same questions that others receive.

The purpose of the 360 feedback is to identify your strengths and weaknesses in order to increase personal or team effectiveness. The most effective 360 feedback processes focus on observed behaviors that can be modified. The aggregate summary report provides information about whether intentions are matching impact. That is, do others see you as you see yourself? Do others see you the way you want to be seen?

The outcome of a 360 is invaluable behavioral insight—knowledge that all leaders need to have about the way people perceive them. By having increased awareness of their competencies, leaders can identify crucial actions they should continue to demonstrate and behaviors that they should stop. By inviting employees to give feedback, there is a greater climate of trust within the leader’s “circle.” They realize that she/he is striving for continuous improvement. In turn this can incentivize employees to focus on their own development.

There are standardized surveys as well as customized methods for 360 feedback. The advantage of standardized surveys is that they have been well researched and are known to assess leadership characteristics. In addition, standardized surveys may have normative data that have been collected from multiple sources, which allows for comparisons. Customized 360s are just that—they are developed specifically for one organization. A customized 360 feedback questionnaire can be useful if designed to fit the exact needs and organizational development objectives. However, given the cost and time involved to customize a 360 feedback questionnaire, psychometrically sound (reliable and valid); off-the-shelf questionnaires are well worth the trade-off.

360 feedback is usually conducted with the support of a facilitator. That person is trained in the interpretation and use of 360 data. She/he helps to create an individual action plan to build on identified strengths and to develop new leadership competencies. The goal is to make your leadership more effective and your practice more successful.

Dr. Haller is available to coach you to higher levels of performance in your practice. Contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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