A while back, I was reminded of the importance of the personal interviews or the 360 interviews that I conduct with my client‘s stakeholders (boss, peers and subordinates).
As part of the coaching process with my coachee (client) I offer to interview on a confidential basis, the coachee’s stakeholders.
Reason: Coaching is all about change: either something in your behavior or your management style is preventing you from moving up or assuming more responsibilities, yet you’ve done OK till now. You are not seeing the result you seek hence the reason I am coaching you. After we agree on some objectives and the change you seek, we explore together how to adopt and embrace this change.
Pretty simple concept right? It gets a little more complicated when I identify a discrepancy between how YOU see yourself and how your stakeholders see you.
Let me give you an example. I was working with a senior manager that wanted to improve some areas but my intuition also told me he had to improve his project planning skills. When I probed him about this he reassured me that this was not a problem – in fact he had project management training and background.
When I met his stakeholders, the majority of them told me that the senior manager’s project management skills were getting him in trouble and at times, the ‘wheels would fall off the cart’ days before the project was supposed to be finished.
This is a common tale.
Feedback more specifically from stakeholders according to Marshall Goldsmith an expert in Coaching and Leadership, is critical and ‘If we’re lucky every once in a while something or someone comes along who open our eyes to your faults – and helps us strip away a delusion or two about ourselves’.
He also adds:
- ‘It is a whole lot easier to see our problems in others than it is to see them in ourselves.
- Even though we may be able to deny our problems ourselves they may be very obvious to the people who are observing us’.
Add to this that when you are fully engaged in resolving an issue you could potentially be so involved in the issue at hand that you can’t possibly see your behavior.
Feedback from peers and stakeholders are fundamental in identifying how well you are tracking with your aspired change. You will improve not based on what you think or what the coach thinks but how your change is perceived by the real judges – your stakeholders.
Great leaders know that they have to continuously improve and embrace change. Getting feedback from your stakeholders is one way to ensuring that you improve and change!