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What you don’t know about your managers and why you should find out

By Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR  bio

What are your mid-level managers doing that will cost you good employees in the next year? Are your professional staff getting the results you need them to? If not, what’s getting in their way and how can you convince them to make needed changes?

A 360-degree review provides you and your mid-level managers and professional staff members with clear, concise information concerning each individual’s strengths and areas needing improvement. Through 360-degree reviews, you and your mid-level managers learn what their employees think—but don’t dare say—about the mid-level managers and other professional staff.

Here’s how it works

Seven to eleven individuals receive a form asking for confidential, detailed information in twelve to eighteen areas concerning the mid-level manager or other professional. A neutral third party receives the responses, follows up with phone calls to ask further questions, and compiles a detailed summary of everything provided by two or more of the respondents. Because the third party writes the summary in her/her own words and uses the “two-person bar,” those who give comments receive a reasonable measure of confidentiality. 

What to ask

Useful questions include:

“How does this professional handle leadership and present him/herself as a role model?”

“What can you say about how this professional works with people?”

“What can you say about how this professional makes ‘judgement calls’?”

“What can you say about this professional’s work ethic?’

“Do you trust this professional?”

“What do you wish this professional would do differently?”

What’s you might learn

Here’s a sample of what you might learn from the review.

What can you say about Mr./Ms. Sample’s work product?

Seven of the eight interviewees described Mr./Ms. Sample’s work product as excellent or high quality. Although these seven interviewees view Mr./Ms. Sample as an extremely capable, hard worker, three of them noted that Mr./Ms. Sample leaves too many projects unfinished due to “perfectionist reworking of assignments.”

How does Mr./Ms. Sample handle leadership and present him/herself as a role model?

Five of the eight interviewees state that they didn’t view Mr./Ms. Sample as a leader or even someone interested in leadership. Two interviewees commented that Mr./Ms. Sample needs to realize s/he leads (or doesn’t) by example, and when s/he refuses to accept accountability for his/her errors, instead blaming employees, s/he loses their respect.

What can you say concerning how Mr./Ms. Sample works with people?

Four of the eight interviewees commented that Mr./Ms. Sample responds defensively to even constructively worded criticism and as a result.

The 360-degree review then includes detailed recommendations based on the findings, worded in a neutral “here’s how you might implement this recommendation” manner.


As you can imagine, it’s invaluable to your company when your mid-level managers and professionals receive candid feedback, motivating them to change in significant, needed ways.

Lynne Curry, PhD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” and “Solutions,” which has great articles on how to remember names & 60 real-life workplace dramas with practical solutions. Both have 4.8-star ratings on

Curry and her group regularly work with law firms and medical practices and hospitals, providing HR on-call, training, expert witness work, facilitation, strategic planning, investigation, mediation, and executive and professional coaching. You can reach her at or or via LinkedIn or Twitter @lynnecurry1.

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