Perception vs. Reality: Am I perceived in the way I think I am?

Perception vs. Reality: Am I perceived in the way I think I am?

By Karen D Nutter

I’m such a kind, thoughtful colleague, how could they possibly be displeased being on a team with me? My boss just told me I’m coming across as abrupt. Wow, I’m in shock!! Should I just move on? Maybe everyone I work with is just too sensitive?

Does this sound familiar to you? Is it you, a direct report, or maybe a colleague? There is a solution… and it doesn’t have to be LEAVING the company.

One of the tools successful businesses use to better understand their leadership teams, managers, and team members is the 360 Survey. These assessments provide leaders and employees with feedback about their performance in areas such as leadership, communication, productivity, and technical skills. The subject also rates themselves in these areas. 

360 Surveys can help identify the disconnect between the way a subject thinks they interact with co-workers and the way they are perceived. To keep things concise and less of a “personal attack,” responses are scored numerically, where higher scores represent strengths and lower scores represent weaknesses. Once we collect the data, we compile all of the information into a report with graphs that summarize the raters’ responses. From there, we review the data with the subject/participant to help them make changes in their behavior and performance. And, at the same time, managers and executives use the information provided by the 360 Survey to create organizational and individual development plans. 

In my experience, managers and executives gain the most personal benefit from 360 Surveys as they see how their leadership styles and methods are perceived by those they manage. Sometimes, we learn that a person simply did not realize how their words and behaviors were working against them. And in other situations, we found that the subject was the right fit, just in the wrong seat.

The 360 Survey process offers invaluable benefits to any organization interested in maximizing the strengths of their leaders and team members.

  • Step 1: Create a 360-survey question set to support the development of the organization’s leaders based on the results of the competency model. 
  • Step 2: Invite Participants. Invite 7-15 people to participate in the evaluation of the subject’s performance. The rated individual scores him/herself along with their boss, direct reports and peer group. 
  • Step 3: Reports Generated. After all participant data is received, reports are generated with easy-to-understand graphs reporting positive, neutral and negative results as well as rater comments. A self-evaluation assessment enhances the survey results!

360 Surveys Benefits:

  • 360 Impact: 360 surveys have their greatest impact when used to evaluate and improve the performance of whole organizations. As its name implies, 360 surveys assess the effect an individuals’ actions have on the organization of which they are a part.
  • Best Results: 360 surveys produce the best results when they are used as a tool to identify opportunities for change and used to develop individual and organizational goals to make those changes. Each 360 survey is customized to your organizational or personal goals. Use them to develop continuous learning programs, and to offer training in those areas where managers and employees should focus their improvement efforts.
  • Leadership Skills : The process helps individuals to understand how others perceive their leadership skills. It also uncovers blind spots that might not be noticed. 
  • Corporate culture: Corporate Culture is reinforced by linking survey items to organizational leadership competencies and company values. Important career development knowledge is easily collected.

If you’re wondering how you are perceived or experiencing challenges with one of the leaders on your team, a 360 Survey assessment is the VERY best way to find out where the issues are, and set the stage to help an individual grow both professionally and personally.


Contact us to learn how 360 Surveys and other assessments can help your organization.