Your performance review likely contains feedback from your manager and above. But what do your peers think of you? Their answers might surprise you.

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Most employees are familiar with the age-old way of receiving on-the-job feedback in the form of an annual performance appraisal that includes feedback from their boss. But there’s another feedback tool that could be even more helpful to your career development: 360-degree feedback. Here’s an example.

“Bob” was a marketing manager who aspired to move into a people management role. As part of his career development, he signed up for a training course that included an online 360-degree assessment. Bob had envisioned himself as a knowledgeable and well-liked employee that other workers proactively sought out to participate on project teams.

However, Bob received quite a surprise when he read the assessment results.

1) A majority of the feedback deemed Bob to be so analytical and detail-oriented that he often lost sight of the big picture and the end goals of projects.

2) Several comments cited instances of Bob’s highly analytical style causing team arguments and delaying projects due to his inability to make decisions.

3) While some people valued him for being highly knowledgeable, their perceptions were that Bob tended to devalue the contributions of others, to the point of being disrespectful in meetings.

This 360-degree feedback is different from the top-down only feedback received during performance evaluations because it obtains performance and behavior opinions from people located all around you — mainly from peers, but also from subordinates and (sometimes) your manager. Like in Bob’s case, this type of feedback is generally used as a developmental tool, with the feedback provided anonymously and consolidated into an overall report.

The feedback you receive can help you determine if your perception of yourself is similar to or different from the perception others hold of you. It can also uncover things about yourself that you might not have known, and provide insights that allow you to adjust certain behaviors.

For Bob, the experience was eye-opening because he thought his style of behavior at work was seen only in a positive way. He hadn’t considered the possibility of any negative perceptions. But armed with this new information, Bob created a personal development plan that included actions to help him better facilitate meetings, as well as training on different social styles and ways he could flex his behavior to the style of others.

How can you obtain 360-degree feedback? Check with your HR organization about enrollment in an internal leadership development program that includes a 360-degree feedback survey. If your company doesn’t have a leadership program that includes a 360-degree assessment, simply do what Bob did — sign up for an external development course that includes the assessment as part of the program. Franklin Covey, for example, includes 360-degree assessments in several of its development programs.

Lisa Quast is a certified executive coach, and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at