Workplace Rights

Weekly (5/31/10)

Topic of the Week  Glass Houses - Participating in a 360 Evaluation

• DO let go of the past.
• DO tell the truth.
• DO be supportive and helpful.
• DON'T judge, improve.

360 evaluations, just the words can bring up a healthy sweat in anyone who has ever had to participate in an evaluation of their boss. Which reminds me of when police in North Branford, CT reported that an unmanned runaway excavator demolished a shed, knocked over trees, flattened a pop-up camper and smashed into a house. Charles Bystrack said he was drinking a cup of coffee when his house began to shake. He looked outside and saw the construction vehicle sticking out of his garage. A road crew said they'd turned the excavator on to warm up when suddenly it lurched forward toward the house. Luckily, no one was injured.

Most of us at work are like that runaway excavator bouncing off everyone and everything in sight. That's why a 360 evaluation can be so valuable, you'll still bounce off people, but at least in this process you can offer input to help them learn from the collisions. Or at least to make the collisions more productive in the future. Check out my tips below. For more, check out, "What Got You Here Won't Get You There" by Marshall Goldsmith (Hyperion, 2007).

DO let go of the past.
Many of us hold on to things that happened in the past, even minor things. Times when someone scolded us for not getting the job done, when they didn't laugh at our jokes or they gave us a last minute assignment right before a big holiday weekend. But people do change. That's why it's important to take a fresh look at the person that you'll be evaluating and to give them feedback that's timely and relevant.

DO tell the truth. Okay, after a boss has given you a hard time there can be a tendency to get back at them with stuff that isn't true. Hey, we've all been there. But it is really important to keep it the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. Call me naïve, but at the heart of a 360 is the chance to push change up the hierarchy. Don't screw it up by lying, because that gives the person being lied about the opportunity to just blow off the entire exercise.

DO be supportive and helpful.
Again, the focus on this exercise should be to promote the kind of behavior you'd like to see in the future. Keep it positive, future-focused and helpful. Okay, the odds of things actually changing for you may be remote, but at least there is a chance. Call me a Pollyanna, but I'll take even slight odds if it means my work experience could improve.

DON'T judge, improve. It's easy to sit in judgment of someone. To forget about history, politics and a host of other issues that might mitigate some of your criticisms. Pardon me for a very tired metaphor, but do your best to walk in their shoes, rather than just judging them, to help them to improve.

Use these tips and you just might excavate new ways to create a better workplace.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via


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