This is for people that may be going through a 360 process. And it doesn’t really matter if it’s an electronic 360 where people are giving their feedback over the computer, or if it’s an interview-based 360 where you’ve got a consultant interviewing folks around you.

Here are a couple things that really go a long way in damaging your credibility while you’re going through that process.

Don’t Ignore Your Respondents

First, would be to ignore your respondents. So, after you go through the 360 process you need to get back with each respondent with whatever level of detail you’re comfortable with, and tell them what you’ve learned from the process. That way they know that they’ve been heard, and that you’ve received the feedback, and that you’re getting something from the process, because they gave up their time to give you that feedback.

Don’t Disrupt the Process

Second, don’t disrupt the process. A couple of months ago I was doing a 360 on a gentleman, and at least four times in the course of the interviews folks shared with me that he asked them specifically to provide really positive feedback to compensate for the fact that he knew there were a few people that were going to give him really critical feedback. What that did was, among the population that was actually more supportive of him, it really damaged his trust and credibility with. Because he’s trying to outsmart the process and they see that.

Obviously, he doesn’t really want the feedback, or he would’ve just let the process play out. So, not only did it damage his credibility and his trust with the folks that were responding to the 360, it definitely weighted how I saw the data as I was analyzing it as well really damaged his credibility with me. And, you know, it’s going to affect the outcome of that process as well.

Don’t Try to Analyze Your Respondents

The final thing, and this probably the worst mistake you could make. Don’t go back after the fact when you’ve got the 360 in your hands. Don’t go back to your respondents and try to figure out who said what. If you go and ask your direct reports, especially, “I’m getting this feedback and this is what’s negative, did you hear anything about that? Do you know who might have said that?”

Again, that’s a great way to damage your credibility and break trust.

360 interviews are supposed to help you improve your performance. But, if you use it as a tool to kind of game the system, you’re actually going to do a lot more damage than if you just accept whatever criticism comes and do your best to address it.