360’s What’s The Point?

Have you wondered how a 360 degree leadership assessment tool is really relevant to your coaching and in today’s business environments? The last ICF-Pittsburgh Coaches luncheon in June focused on “360’s What’s the Point?” A panel of coaches explained the different 360 degree tools they use and described the best use, applications and challenges they experienced.

The panelists were Dr. Ann Gatty, Dr. Barbara Schwarck, Mary Kwiatkowski and Joanne Martin. Moderator is Anne Papinchak. The panelists spoke to the following learning objectives:

  • What is a 360 Degree Assessment?
  • How do coaches use a 360 survey?
  • How do you choose among the various instruments?
  • What are the pros and cons of various instruments?
  • What are the best practices and lessons learned when using a 360 degree survey successfully?
  • How do you promote and gain commitment and action with your clients?

How do you take the results and create an action plan for change?

For those of you who missed the panel presentations, the Education & Research Committee has provided a summary of the key points each Panelist made with some of the questions asked by the audience.

Introduction to 360 Degree Assessment Instruments

The 360⁰ provides a full spectrum of feedback from peers, supervisors, customers, and self.  It remains confidential and/or anonymous so that participants will give full disclosure. The type of role may be identified, but if Human Resources or another organization is gathering the data it has to be kept confidential.


The 360 ⁰ should be used for development or feedback.  If the 360 ⁰ is not used correctly and the feedback becomes public it could ruin people’s careers. A 360 ⁰ should not be used as a potential weapon by a person’s organization.  It is not part of the annual performance management process. A 360 ⁰ should be used for personal and professional development.

Best Practices
Used for development and not performance or any other punitive actions by the organization or company.
Be clear up front about the confidentiality and type of feedback that would be part of the 360 ⁰ process.
Create an “agreement” between all parties to ensure compliance and understanding. This provides the Coach to refer to the agreement if asked to share data from the 360 ⁰.

Ensure that if using an instrument rather than a 1to 1 process, the report results come to the Coach so they can review and give the feedback personally. Client will receive the report results at that time while receiving and processing the feedback.

How do you sustain the actual implementation and actions?  It is one piece of the process and it is the only piece to be relied upon.

  • Understanding that a 360 ⁰ doesn’t always have to be a tool. It can be a set of conversations and questions between the coach and client; a process.
  • Ensuring that if a 360 ⁰ is kept confidential for the privacy of the person seeking development help through this process. Coach/Consultant needs to be very clear about this point to leadership, supervisors and Human Resources.

Panel Presentations
Mary-E.-KwiatkowskiMary Kwiatkowski, MA, CRC, ACC

Mary shared she uses a process used by Marshall Goldsmith and his company. She asks questions to the client in a conversation mode. She asks the client to answer the following:

  • What do I do really well?
  • What can I do better?
  • How can I take action?

Mary explained what the purposed of using a 360 ⁰ and how she uses it in her coaching.

First, you identify who you want to talk to and receive feedback on your client. You want to ask 10 to 12 people to respond to the questions. Mary shared she asks, “What are the top five strengths?” This inquiry is sent out by the client so it shows their interest in hearing from the person who is invited to respond.

Secondly you want to synthesize and analyze the client and you move on create to development goals that you and your client will focus on during the coaching period.
To ensure that you and your clients receive that best application; you (coach) should experience the assessment.


barbara_schwarckDr. Barbara Schwarck, PCC, CPCC, MPIA, CEO of Clear Intentions International (CII)

Barbara uses Neuro Emotional Coaching® that combines neuroscience with executive coaching. Barbara shared she was trained by a German company on her assessment instrument and then she has trained it in the United States ten years ago.

The assessment instrument is an online traditional 360. She has added other groups, internal and external customers. Barbara uses the instrument to help people learn about what is holding them back. We can change the competencies by separating the “doing skills” vs. the “being skills.” Barbara shared that we look at the expected or “what people are saying about me” – how others perceive me.

She can customize how to use the skill set for the client company. When the company engages their employees, it is helpful. Barbara shared she works on Talent Management and Team Performance with this assessment instrument.

When Barbara uses the instrument, she requires a debriefing session. The result and feedback are sent back to Barbara before it is shared with the client. She gives the client their report for their review. She steps out of the room so the client can have privacy reviewing the information. Then she returns to the room and review the results and sets up what needs to happen next. Barbara shared the external forces for the day the people take the assessment should be taken into account. Her job as a coach is to dig deeper to look at the four to five core competencies they want to work on. Sometimes people have trouble receiving feedback. Receiving feedback is an emotional experience and the coach needs to be supportive to the person receiving and feedback and information about how to use it.

Note: In another article, Dr. Barbara Schwark shares an article she wrote about the background of her 360 ⁰ Assessment Instrument.


Dr. Ann ann_gatty is the creator of The Business Sphere of Excellence™

Dr. Ann Gatty is the creator of The Business Sphere of Excellence®.  Ann uses the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) created by Kouzes-Posner. The instrument measures five practices (model, inspire, challenge, enable, and encourage) using thirty behavioral statements.

Ann uses the LPI to set up an environment for self-improvement. She found in her research that 70% of your employees are disengaged at work. When using the LPI, the competencies of the individual can be measured and can be monitored for improvement over time.  When companies perform employee assessments, this instrument should be used in conjunction.  With this instrument, the individual completes a self-assessment of the five practices.  In addition, 3-5 other co-workers complete the assessment about the individual.  From this information a feedback report is created, graphing a comparison of the findings.  The report is anonymous and shows the perception about the individual (self) and what the others perceive.

When Ann uses the LPI, she communicates to client how she will use the data. The feedback data provides a launching point for the professional goals to be identified. As to how much time is necessary to analyze the feedback data, she recommended that it is a benchmark instrument and the coach and client refer to data and monitor changes over time. The instrument is not expensive. You can buy it from Wiley. It is online.

Before the next panelist, Anne Papinchak shared her thoughts about 360 assessments. She shared “when you are coaching the client, you are the coaching the manager. Also clients often question the validity and reliability of the instrument. So be prepared to show them the research.


Joanne S. joanne_martin, ACC, Principal of East Vision Partners

Joanne is recently certified to administer the Hay Group ESCI 360. In addition to explaining this instrument, Joanne shared her experience as a subject of an ESCI 360 to underscore the importance of creating a supported developmental context to create positive sustained change.
The Emotional and Social Competency 360 has roots back to an article by David McClelland in 1973 that competence rather than intelligence has profound application in organizations. Richard Boyatzis of Case Western Reserve University, and Dan Golman who published the seminal book Emotional Intelligence, both contributed extensive research to develop the ESCI 360. The central premise to this instrument is that self-awareness is the heart of emotional intelligence and drives all our abilities and competencies. It is essential for people to understand their own emotions and their effects on performance.

The ESCI 360 measures 12 competencies in four areas of ability:
1.  Self-Awareness
2.  Self-management
3.  Social awareness
4.  Relationship management

To ensure this instrument is appropriately used for extensive assessment and development, a practitioner must be certified to administer this ESCI 360. Also the Hay Group provides on-going research, support resources, and encourages the use of a comprehensive coaching framework.

To Panel Presenters and ICF-Pittsburgh Members, please share your comments and experience with handling 360 degree assessment instruments as an external coach to an organization and/or when  coaching individual private clients.

Photo by Grant Wickes