Trust-based peer accountability is linked to a commitment
The 360-degree assessment carried out by everyone in the
office proved to be a disaster. The assessment was supposed
to offer constructive peer feedback, highlighting everyone’s
strengths and weaknesses in a positive framework. Instead,
one person saw it as an opportunity to lambaste other staff
members in a personal and cruel manner.
It was anonymous, you know. No one—not even the
doctor—would know who wrote that another staff member
should wash her hair or iron her uniform, that she was too
friendly with the patients, that she was unfocused,
In some warped fashion, this behavior made the
evaluator feel superior.
It is clear that this staff member abused the
360-degree assessment. In my view, I was working
with a dysfunctional office. The staff claimed to be
a team, but they didn’t have a clue about how to
work together cooperatively to achieve shared goals.
Bad behavior was rampant in this office: snide remarks about others were common, some members
were excluded from “team” activities, competition
was high, and collaboration was low. It was not a
safe environment—it was a war zone where some
employees had to be watchful of the next dagger that was
coming their way.
The 360-degree feedback tool has become popular in
business environments in recent years. With this tool, each
employee gets feedback from various perspectives (i.e., subordinates, peers, and supervisory), as well as a
The purpose of the 360-degree assessments is to offer:
• Blind-spot analysis—What do others see about us
that we don’t see about ourselves?
• Evaluating opportunities—Do we recognize and
appraise opportunities wisely?
• Communicating effectively—How clear are we at
• Innovation and risk-taking—Do we see failures as
opportunities to learn?
• Problem-solving and decision-making—Do we
use processes to find solutions and make smart
• Planning and collaboration—Are we tapping into
the creativity of others?
• Managing conflict—Do we have the skills to defuse
conflict and arrive at solutions that everyone can live
Last month, I wrote about how peer accountability
within organizations leads to higher engagement and results. Not wanting to let
the team down can be
a motivator for staff
members. In a “real”
team, conflict is even
encouraged. 3 But there
are respectful ways to
disagree and dispute,
and then there are disrespectful ways. The
method above was not
helpful or healthy for
I believe 360-degree
assessments can be
beneficial, but it is better to have face-to-face feedback so
everyone can be honest and discuss the feedback maturely.
It is also important to voice dissenting views; otherwise
trouble can fester, possibly resulting in greater pain and
No assessment tool will work, however, if there is distrust
among team members. Do you trust that everyone on your
team has the highest good of the organization in mind?
Are you confident that fired-up emotions will evaporate
after coworkers disagree with one another? Do you trust
the leader? Will she be fair and open-minded, even if you
We will only ever achieve a healthy team if we are fearless
in exposing our vulnerabilities. None of us has all the answers.
Only when we feel safe to say, “I don’t know,” “I need help,”
“What do you think?” or “This isn’t my strength,” can we
effectively tap into the commitment of everyone.
MPA, is an innovation
strategy sessions and
forums to orchestrate
change within dentistry.
As an international
speaker and writer,
Dorothy trains others to
broaden their skill-set to
and forward thinking. She
engagement is the
outcome when the
mechanisms are put in
place to drive new
innovations. Connect with
her at dgarlough@
ca or visit
We will only
ever achieve a
healthy team if
we are fearless
in exposing our
None of us
has all the