A 360 that made Linda Blair’s Head in the Exorcist look like Child’s Play
A 360 in the professional world is the opportunity to review and give professional feedback on peers and management. (And, I cannot type fast enough to get that gif to move up-read fast!) I have to say I almost prefer Linda Blair’s version to the business version though. It’s less demonic.
“The goal of the feedback is to provide a balanced view to an employee of how others view his or her contribution and performance in areas such as leadership, teamwork, interpersonal communication, management, contribution, work habits, interpersonal interaction, accountability, vision and more, depending on the employee’s job. The review allows coworkers to assess the employee’s impact on furthering goal accomplishment and positive customer results as observed by team members.”*
What a 360 review really means: Remember many large companies are running like corrupt monarchies, where you do as you’re told or it’s ‘off with your head.’ I know you’re probably still having Linda Blair gif flashbacks, and now guillotine humor. Sorry, it’s a rough day, but it’s a rough subject.
It wasn’t until I started to think of my career as an important relationship in my life that I finally achieved some clarity. Actually, my career, has been a significant relationship, not without its ups and downs, but significant.
Start to think of your job history. In high school, in college, first job out of college, you and your career have grown together over the years. (Sniff-It’s ok to get a little misty eyed, I won’t tell anyone). You may have been promoted, or fired, left for a better opportunity, started a company, sold a company, but it’s all pretty significant to help shape who you are today.
Now think about a significant (longer than one that started yesterday) romantic relationship. It can be good or bad; but, if you’re like me, the second option far outweighs the first. Think about the beginning of that relationship, how you met, what you wore (oh, is it just me that remembers stupid shit like that?), did you date for long, did you get engaged?
Here’s a little cheat sheet of ‘dating terms,’ I put together for you, feel free to print and laminate in case you get an ambush 360, you’ll be ready. (I love lamination, don’t ask me why):
Here are some tips and tricks when filling out a company ‘mandatory’ 360 review. Mind you, HR and Middle Management Minions aren’t going to like this. Think of HR as your spouses divorce attorney. They are there to protect the company, and that could include illegal activity for a superior or the entire company. I didn’t write this list for them, but I’m writing it for every employee, and those who may still be naive, like I once was, before I became jaded and a shrew.
1. If there are problems of an illegal nature (EEOC violations/Off Label Marketing). Document everything. Time, date, location, parties involved, and copies of emails, etc. If a company isn’t doing anything wrong, they should have no problem with employees documenting company activities. I would tell employees to be realistic, someone telling a joke with a curse word, probably isn’t the most egregious thing that will happen in the workplace.
-This is a slippery slope. If a company is aware of EEOC violations and does nothing about it, they are likely to push the ethical and legal boundaries in other areas as well.
2. There is no ‘confidential’ 360. Read it again. There is no ‘confidential’ 360. No matter if HR emails and says so, right in plain text, remember they are your spouse’s divorce attorney. Know that what you write will be read, likely verbatim, by the person you reviewed.
-If honest, and the review is unfavorable towards a superior, retaliation is as assured as the sun is coming up tomorrow.*
“Running afoul of retaliation claims can be costly. Nevertheless, companies are doing so with increasing frequency. In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received nearly 38,000 retaliation charge filings, making retaliation the most frequently filed charge last year.” Jill Jusko, Industry Week, May 9, 2013
3. My father always taught me that you never sign anything you don’t agree with, especially when it comes to business. Companies will tell you that signing something doesn’t mean you agree with it, it just means you read it. I’m not an attorney, but I have always sent an email in response to the ‘mandatory signing of HR documents,’ stating I read it, do not agree with it and refuse to sign.
One time, at band camp….
I was asked to fill out a “confidential’ 360 review, that had to be faxed (ahem) back to HR, on a superior, who was anything but superior, from where I was standing. And, I was standing in a territory that had been ‘split in half’ to accommodate another rep. Split in half was not the problem, the problem was the discrepancy of what half meant. Think Bill Clinton:
”It depends on what the meaning of the words ‘is’ is.”
–Bill Clinton, during his 1998 grand jury testimony on the Monica Lewinsky affair.
“It depends on how you define alone…”
–Bill Clinton, in his grand jury testimony
So to make sure, we’re all on the same page:
a. One of two equal parts that together constitute a whole.
b. One part approximately equal to the remaining part.
The Reality, roughly the same quota for both territories:
Territory A had 40 surgeons to train and territory drive time was six hours end to end.
Territory B had 120 surgeons to train and territory drive time of three house end to end.
Guess, which territory was mine? Now, I’m not great at math, but I think that’s probably not half. Not half the total number of doctors or half the state.
I chose not to fill out the mandatory 360 review, foolishly thinking, my silence on the matter would speak volumes to upper management. HR called and suggested/restated that it was mandatory and that the only way to make positive changes were for me to fill out the review honestly, and I was guaranteed three separate times, that it was confidential.
Imagine my surprise several weeks later, when my newly reviewed ‘superior,’ repeated back to me, a direct quote from my review, saying that he didn’t ‘manage from an ivory tower.’ He was right, he didn’t manage at all, but that was the most accurate and kind thing I could say. He lived in my town, yet previous managers who lived in other states had flown into town and helped me cover surgical cases, when I had more than one going on at a time. In a startup, everyone ‘rolls up their sleeves’ to help out. That was the second phrase spoken directly back to me from the review. And the third charming part to that fairy tale was he told me that I should start looking for work elsewhere. Oh did I mention he had enough alcohol on his breathe to tranquilize a horse from across the room? (Hello breathe mint and self control?)
Never one to run from a fight, let alone an unfair, not to mention illegal one, I stayed. Imagine my surprise once again, two months later, in the last quarter of the year, being put on a Performance Improvement Plan, when I was 93% to quota. That’s like getting an A, for those who have never had a quota, and getting kicked out of college for too low of an A. I’m pretty sure Harvard doesn’t even do that.
1. HR is your spouse’s divorce attorney, and there to protect the company, and not the employee. Even if they are aware of suspected illegal activity.
2. If HR/spouse are early hired share-holders refer back to 1.
3. I refused to sign the PIP, even after I was told I could not leave the meeting until I signed it. Hilariously, I signed my copy and gave the unsigned one back to my ‘superior.’ HR called, playing dumb? saying I forgot to sign it. I clarified I didn’t forget, my superior got flustered when he demanded I sign under duress, and I kept my signed copy and gave him the unsigned one.
Again, I’m not an attorney, and I don’t even want to play one on tv, I just use logic, reason and fact based evidence; but, to me, and probably 99% of the people reading this, it was clearly retaliation. That said, I kept my job, that time. But if 38,000 employees filed retaliation claims against their company in 2012, I would have been in good company, and justified, if I had chosen to go that route.
Here is a great article on how Netfilx reinvented HR (hint: they don’t have PIP, they view them as ‘fundamentally dishonest’) from the Harvard Business Review.