The subject of this post may sound unconventional to many of you. Generally most of the B-schools start the leadership development program with the review of 360 degree feedback results. However I went one step ahead and used this for the application itself.
Here is why I used 360 degree feedback prior to writing my essays for Sloan application.
When you start writing your essays, you will be required to quote examples of the following:
- Instances that demonstrated your Strengths/Weaknesses
- Instances of teamwork
- Instances of decision making and the outcome
Having gone through the formal 360 degree feedback sessions myself every year for a few years of my career now (this is mandatory in my current organization for managers), I pretty much knew what to fill in as my strengths and areas of improvement every year in the self appraisal form during performance reviews.
However, as I began my Sloan Masters application, I thought it would be a good idea to seek an informal feedback from my peers, team members and clients as I was leading the current team for over a year now and the team dynamics were completely different from the teams I led in the past. This team was a large multi-vendor, multi-cultural team with people coming from over 9 nations.
I created a survey form on http://www.surveymonkey.com and sent it to people with whom I have been working closely in the last one year. I requested them to be very critical and also asked them to include examples wherever possible. I also wanted to ensure that this should not become another tedious survey for people to fill with a long list of questions.
So I created a survey with just five questions as follows:
- Please list top three Qualities/Strengths you have observed in me
- Please list atleast two areas of improvement/Weakness you have observed in me (make the response to this question mandatory in the survey as this is something you must be keen about)
- Please state any unique quality(positive/negative) you have noticed in me but not in other managers
- Any specific incident where you think I delighted you or the team?
- Any specific incident which you think I could have handled better?
It was enlightening to see the results. As a manager you may not keep track of all the incidents, but the stakeholders impacted out of your actions do remember everything in great detail. Also some of my team members who generally do not open up in one on one meetings have provided valuable inputs on how I was running the program for the past one year. I am glad that most of my colleagues provided honest and quality feedback. This exercise helped primarily in two ways:
- To operate in a more efficient manner going forward based on team’s feedback
- To use some of the instances from the survey feedback in my essays.
Although most of us at this stage of career think that we are self-aware, this experience strengthened my belief that the process of self-discovery is an ongoing exercise. What matters is being approachable and open to embrace change.
Tips for a successful 360 degree feedback:
- Make sure you meet the people and explain the rationale for the survey. People will provide better feedback if they know the intent of it. You can reiterate this again in the invite email sent from your survey tool.
- Send the survey only to people who have worked closely with.
- Keep the questions short and also the number of questions to the minimum possible
- Seek more of qualitative feedback with specifics. For example instead of asking them to rate on a scale of 1 to 5, you are better off asking what is your strength/weakness and couple of examples to help you understand why these are your real strengths/weaknesses
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues who provided their valuable feedback and supported me in my journey.
My next post will be on ‘The role of Alumni’ in the entire application process. Stay tuned.