The benefits of convex mirrors & 360 reviews

March 17th, 2010 · by Tom Stuart · Growth & Development, Holy Spirit Aha's, Life's Driving Lessons

Blind spots, I hate them – both on the road and in my life.  It’s imperative we be aware of them and take precautions to eliminate them.

It happened to me again the other day, so embarrassing.  I’m cruising down the freeway at the speed limit (note: a law abiding citzen) in the right lane.  I come up on several cars moving a tad slower.  I check the rear view mirrors, flip the turn signal and begin slipping into the left lane to go around them. 

Suddenly – Honk! Honk! Honk!  Oh, oh, a quick rotation of the steering wheel to the right and I narrowly miss sideswiping a car as it goes by.  Secretly, out of the corner of my eye I catch the glimpse of a scowling driver.  “Where did that guy come from?” I mutter. Everytime that happens to me I cringe and berate myself for not being more observant.  I vow I’m going to get one of those convex safey mirrors but then forget and don’t do it.

Vehicles have blind spots and unfortunately, so do we.  In January I joined Mark Spencer and Jim Olson, two other pastors on our staff, in initiating a 360 degree review of ourselves.  A “360” is a multisource feedback evaluation that comes from all around an individual.  In the workplace it is typically provided by subordinates, peers and supervisors.

We took a similar approach and each asked a variety of 10 people to give us an anonymous evaluation using an online poll.  Each of us incorporated individuals we work closely with, both staff and non-staff, subordinates and peers.  That included fellow leadership team members, key volunteers and one another. 

We polled these people using a 36 question likert scale evaluation with an equal amount of questions focused on three job performance areas: our self-management, relationships and leadership skills.  We also included five open-ended questions for their further input.

As I had hoped, this was a very affirming process in terms of verifying my strengths and best contributions.  But perhaps the real value, while humbling, was becoming more fully aware of my weaknesses or as I prefer to affectionately call them – my growth areas.  Like a convex safety mirror this “360” allowed me to identify the no-see-ums in my life that follow me and frustrate others around me.

These no-see-ums were not a total surprise to me.  They are the kind of “growth areas” about myself that bug me too.  On one hand it seems easiest to just ignore them.  But in reality I would like to take a swat at them and see things change. 

The 360 gives me hope.  It is good and necessary to be confronted with weakness.  It beckons me to a renewed reliance upon God’s grace in search of his strength.  It reminds me that I am still under construction and that can be a messy business.  But it affirms that he who has begun a good work in me will certainly finish what he’s started.  (2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Philippians 2:13)

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