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360 Degree Assessments: 10 Benefits to Managers

Without exception, persons in management positions can benefit significantly from a 360 degree assessment conducted by an outside consultant or coach. This type of assessment provides managers with an unfiltered view of their “performance” in the workplace according to a selected group of employees who represent several or all layers of the organization. The hired third party interviews (face to face or by phone) up to ten staffers, using a standardized set of pre-established open-ended questions approved by the manager. After the interviews are completed, the consultant or coach prepares a comprehensive summary of the common themes and trends, carefully protecting each employee’s privacy. The following is a list of the major benefits to such an assessment:1. The manager learns how staff view her daily behaviors.This piece of the final report shows the manager exactly how her know-it-all attitude or inaccessibility affects her employees. It provides her with examples of how her anger problem stifles morale, how her silent treatment creates fear, or how her constant interrupting during conversations shuts people down.2. The manager receives evidence of his strengths.In this section of the report the manager reads a comprehensive list of his strengths according to the staff who were interviewed. In addition, the manager learns what he does better than anyone else his employees have ever known throughout their careers as well as specifically what they count on him for.3. The manager gains insight around her weaknesses.This section reports obvious weaknesses as identified by the staff. This is where a failure to serve as a credible, steady resource to employees shows up. It’s where gossiping or lack of genuine interest in people gets mentioned.4. The manager receives feedback about certain aspects of his professional image.This piece discusses the manager’s body language, speech, dress, approachability, character, integrity, likability, and confidence. Employees have been given the opportunity to weigh in on these components, citing examples of both positive and negative evidence.5. The manager learns how her staff interpret her frame of mind and world view.In this section the manager reads about whether or not her employees see her as emotionally stable, grounded, solid, fair, supportive, optimistic, and/or generally eager to jump into the day. Managers with great talent and skill are sometimes surprised to learn that staff question their emotional stability or motivation or ability to serve as leaders.6. The manager finds out how his staff see him as a human being.Here the manager reads a detailed, collective description of himself. This can be enlightening and humbling. It’s not unusual for employees to know their manager as a good and decent person who is not capable of leading a department to greatness. But the reverse can be true too. Sometimes employees talk about a boss with noteworthy technical skills who is self serving, self absorbed, and disconnected from others.7. The manager gets a peek at how others view her outside of the department.This piece talks about what staff hear outsiders say about her: persons in other departments, individuals in the community, stakeholders, etc. In this section the manager learns about her reputation as “dictator” or “great boss material” or “openminded”.8. The manager receives information about his impact upon others.Here the manager reads about how he makes employees and others feel when he is around them and interacting with them. He finds out if he makes people nervous and upset or if he inspires them to exceed expectations.9. The manager gets clues about her professional and personal development needs.In this section the manager gains insight around the technical and/or soft skills her staff want her to acquire and implement. As she reads this, she has the opportunity to learn specifically how they think she should grow over the next year or so.10. The manager learns how he influences his employees’ attitudes, work performance, and job satisfaction.This piece allows the manager to read an assessment of his degree and type of influence upon his employees. He may now understand that he either de-motivates people or excites them, throws stumbling blocks their way or finds ways to support them, kills their satisfaction or fuels it.

Public Education Can Save Our Country

Public education is broken. I wanted to grab your attention with something much more impactful. But the way I see it, what has more impact than the absolute and simple truth? Our public education system is broken and it has been for a long time.

Some of us believe it is the responsibility of our elected officials. Others think our communities can fix it. Parental involvement is the answer for many. “If only we had more funding” is another cry. They are all right.

Of course, the debate continues about No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Remember, this is the measure which was passed in January 2002 during the Bush Administration. It requires states test all students in certain subjects every year to be sure they are prepared for college. I don’t believe the problem is entirely about NCLB; it’s about public education in general. However, this initiative has had such an impact, mentioning one practically begs a mention of the other.

NCLB was supposed to fill in the gaps of public education. It was likely intended to do just as it says…leave no child behind. The goal is admirable, but the execution has a detrimental effect on how children are taught. We tried to solve the problem with one sweeping measure. There is no one answer and no one entity with the complete solution.

The reason I see the problem of public education in the United States as a national issue, and not an individual, family, group, regional, or even state issue, is very simple. Let me use myself as an example. I am not an educator or a student. I do not have a child in the public school system, or any school system. But I am a citizen of this country and have a vested interest in its present well-being and hope for its future. So, it is my problem. It is our problem.

We all know the future of this country and our place in the world depends on our children. How they fare and compete on the world’s stage depends on their access to quality education. That is why I am so afraid.

We are not preparing our children to compete. We are not teaching them to think. We are not teaching them to react. We are not teaching them to create. We are not teaching them at all. We are preparing them for tests. We are filling them with facts, having them regurgitate them at the appropriate time, in the appropriate format to attain the appropriate score.

Creativity, individuality, and inventiveness are practically discouraged. If a child shows too much individuality in the way she learns, acts, or interacts, she is considered inappropriate. She is relegated to a special class, isolated, or even worse, medicated.

We live in an age of entrepreneurs and innovators. The time has passed when we stay on a job at a factory for 25-30 years or even in a corporate cubicle for that long. We are not training our children to be innovative in the workplace, or to build businesses like the type built by the entrepreneurs and solopreneurs that are the backbone of my own industry, virtual business assistance.

The Public Education Network’s (PEN) National Survey of Public Opinion lists 10 key findings in its Survey of Public Opinion about our responsibility for our educational system. Top among those were:

1. Education continues to be a top national priority, even in the midst of war and concern about the economy, joblessness, and healthcare.

2. Americans want funding for public education protected from budget cuts, and they want to see more public investment in education.

3. The jury is still out on No Child Left Behind. [1]

What does this tell us about what we need to do to fix our broken system?

We have to stop making education a mere campaign promise and make it a policy priority for our elected officials. Any official who does not fulfill his promises to improve public education, especially our national officials, should not be re-elected.

Realize quality education comes at a cost. We must be willing to pay our teachers a competitive wage so that we can attract the best and brightest…or provide tax and other benefits to supplement their salaries. Be open to studying tenure and pay for performance as options for teachers. Even if these are not the best or only options for improvement, let’s at least consider them and be open to new, inventive options.

Consider a moratorium on NCLB, nationally, or on the state or local levels. This measure affects too many of our children to continue with so many unsure of the long-term consequences. If a moratorium is not practical, at least reconsider the amount of funding for the program so that schools are able to place more focus on traditional or creative teaching methods as well.

The results of the 2008 National Poll and the Civic Index for Quality Public Education conducted by the PEN shows that over 63 per cent of us do not think public officials are held accountable for the status of public education. Four in 10, nationally, and over one third of local respondents think our schools are declining. [2]

We have an election coming up on November 2, 2010. Let’s not forget education when we go to the polls. We can save the future of our country.

[1] 2004 NATIONAL SURVEY OF PUBLIC OPINION Learn. Vote. Act. The Public’s Responsibility for Public Education

[2] Public Education Network, Community Accountability for Quality Schools, Results of the 2008 National Poll and the Civic Indexor Quality Public Education