360 Degrees

110_view_of_i360My office manager asked me if I would do a 360 degree feedback process for her about the way she behaves at work. I tried to imagine what that would entail – moving around her from above and viewing her from every angle? Just like this new i360 viewing experience currently being built on the Brighton seafront. In reality, it means receiving feedback from a person’s immediate work circle and the person also rating themselves. In other words, 360 means multiple perspectives.

My colleague’s email ended with her asking me, “Please do be brutally honest in your answers.” My immediate reaction was to be aghast at being asked to do this. She reassured me that the process is intended to help her develop as a manager and was not meant to be about evaluating her performance. But there is a fine line. Giving someone feedback on how well they are doing and how they could improve, in my mind, is a form of appraisal. Surely, better done using a proper procedure where there is a form both have filled in to use as a vehicle to talk through, where the appraiser gives a mix of selective, gentle and praiseworthy feedback combined with carefully worded constructive criticism – not multi-rater scales with radio buttons you click on to be brutally honest. And, as I am her line manager she will know immediately what I have said: “Your responses will be anonymous and it will not be possible to attribute ratings to any individual Rater, unless you have been nominated as X’s Manager.”

I was talking to someone else at a different university who is also going through the same Leadership and Management course (seems every university in the UK has signed up their staff for it) and he seemed to think he had learnt more about himself as part of the process. When pressed, however, he seemed less willing to provide specific examples of what this meant in practice. But let’s hope that learning more about yourself in this round about fashion might make you understand how to manage yourself and others better.

Much more fun are the magic mirror augmented reality apps that are coming out, intended to enhance and extend the user experience by giving people real-time feedback on how they look when trying things on, like sunglasses, make-up or clothes. I’ve tried a couple of them with a number of colleagues, students and friends and each time it is hilarious. The first trylive-eyewear lets you try on a range of glasses as if you were looking in a mirror. As you move your head around the virtual glasses appear to stay stuck to your face making it appear like you really are wearing them. It is uncanny.


MakeUp Genius by L’Oreal is a free app you can download that lets you try on lots of different kinds of makeup – especially that you would never dream of wearing normally.


That kind of 360 degrees is a lot of fun!

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