August 10th, 2006



It's... weird.

About a year ago, when I did the manager's symposium here, part of the work was a 360, where you get people to comment on you and how you measure up against the qualities that the company wants in their managers. It was weird. I had my own idea of how I did on those things, which wasn't that was very good at most of them, but I tried to do them as often as I could.

When the feedback came back I was surprised. Then, when I took it to my local HR person for advise on how to address the parts I wasn't that strong in even on the feedback and she was flabbergasted. I then got a quick lesson on the usual distribution of things and I had to rethink a lot of things.

I don't really think that I have much integrity. Mostly, I think, because for some folks that word means "Being true to your own values and having your own rules that you always obey." I have no hard and fast rules other than "hurting people is usually bad", which is about as hard and fast as I can get along the lines of rules that I hear other people obeying. I had never thought that "if it doesn't work, figure out a way to get it to work" or "fixing the system for everyone is more valuable than any moral or 'should' I might have" or "every situation has more stories than there are people in it and all of them are needed to understand it" or "the world can be fixed, it's just going to cost me to fix it and I need to balance that" as rules...

The feedback from the 360 had me up in the 99th percentile on the integrity questions. My input was around the 55 percentile, my boss, who was the closest to me and dislikes absolutes, so he had me around 80, which was about as high as he goes. It was a weird blow to my self image in the opposite direction. No one sees me as I see me, they see me as something more.

The weird thing is that it shapes lots of things I do at work, now. People see me as having integrity so I try and act as if I do, the knowledge that people NOTICE when I do the right thing has been really powerful. The odd side benefit is that I actually feel happier with myself, now, too, as I'm acting towards my real values more. I do things now that I know would make the situations, systems, and organization better off, and while I count the costs to myself and make them up, I don't do it just because it rewards me directly, but the rewards to my self-esteem are surprising.

Maybe a different meaning for the phrase "positive feedback loop".