How did you feel the first time you walked into your boss’s office for your first review? Truth be told I thought I was the one who should be evaluating my boss. I was certainly smarter and more competent than he was. He was very fortunate he hired me. I’d really saved this organization.
Yet on the other hand, this boss evaluating me had the total ability to fire me on the spot–it had happened before. He could give me a raise or promote me. My fate was in his hands.
I was waiting for the feedback from my boss that I was a star employee, but my boss was strangely indifferent to my accomplishments. He was more interested in complaints that came to him from colleagues in the office that I was arrogant and insensitive to my employees and seemed fairly socially tone deaf.
No doubt in sales I had put some really good numbers on the board, but I had a fatal flaw that could sink my career. My boss was very sure that if I didn’t solve my problem, I’d be looking for my next gig. My fatal flaw could bring me down.
What’s been your experience? Do you have a fatal flaw–or someone on your team–that could do serious damage to their careers, your team, and your whole organization? If someone on your team has a fatal flaw, they’re in good company. According to Jack Zenger, in a recent Forbes article, 25% of managers do in fact have a fatal flaw.
The good news is that managers rarely have a whole list of faults that could bring them down, just one career crushing flaw..
Managers usually have only that single flaw that will limit or halt their career–and that fault is very fixable. So why are fatal flaws so seldom fixed? Here’s why:
- People surrounding the manager are rarely going to give negative feedback –there’s too much risk. A culture of open and honest feed back is great for articles in the Harvard Business Review, but those cultures rarely exist.
- Managers often can’t hear negative feedback. They think the person giving feedback doesn’t really know the pressures I have as a manager, and they’re probably envious of my position.
- Managers rarely receive feedback in a way they can use it to modify their behaviors.
Managers with fatal flaws–invisible to them and unspoken by others–are like buried landmines in organizations that can explode at any moment. Team members who work with these managers feel undervalued, frustrated, and disempowered and the whole team becomes ineffective. These flaws are very fixable with the right feedback and coaching to eliminate them. But these flaws crush careers and rarely get better over time.
Sometimes a manager can fix the flaw through hearing from a mentor within the organization, but there is rarely that person who appears at the right moment to be helpful.
360 Degree Feedback–the Most Effective Way to Get Career-saving Feedback
You can make progress though mentors and coaches, but the most effective way to receive actionable feedback is through a 360-degree assessment. Within the framework of this assessment, a manager receives feedback that gives a total picture of their leadership in an organized way. The feedback is effective in that it’s anonymous, and the process is managed by an expert, outside organization.
According to the research of Jack Zenger and his group, fully 90% of Fortune 500 companies use the 360-degree assessment as part of the executive development program. In the case of Delta Associates, Inc. we use the 360 degree assessment along with other key assessment to develop a profile of executive success.
In most cases, fatal flaws have little to nothing to do with executive skills and abilities. You and most of the people you work with have what it takes to be successful. The fatal flaws that hold us back are all about the way we manage ourselves and those around us–how we lead, how we influence, how we communicate, how we build relationships.
The 360 degree assessment is the greatest professional development tool for managers, in conjunction with a Game Plan that uses the data from the 360 to propel the participants into an effective career path. A fatal flaw removed from a key manager creates a whole new atmosphere for the team. It has a positive effect on the whole organization and helps create forward momentum.
Receiving effective feedback changed my career and my life. I always believed in myself and what I was capable of achieving. I felt I had distinct talents to offer to my organization. Yet I was frustrated because I seemed to be dragging a weight I couldn’t rid myself of. Good feedback allowed me to run and not limp. It is the only cure for the fatal flaw.