A spouse can’t do much to influence their service member’s career. Unless, say, you commit a blazing Bonnie and Clyde-style felony. Then the military might notice that you are, in fact, a problem.
But what if we could be a force for good in our service member’s lives? What if we could help by giving good 360?
Take this new policy that the Navy is implementing. In light of the 49 (!!!) firings of commanding officers since 2010, Big Navy has decided to implement 360-degree assessments for commanding officers and executive officers as part of the screening process. (Read here how the Army is already using the 360.)
If you haven’t had to do this at work yet, the 360-degree evaluation is when your peers, coworkers and subordinates as well as your bosses rate you on your work performance. When I had to do a 360 with a business coach, she made me ask my husband and kids to assess me, too. Scary. Really, really scary.
But it makes me wonder: Will the military ask spouses to contribute to the 360, too? I don’t know if I could be trusted. On one hand, I am the kind of woman who thinks my guy should have been made King of the Sea pretty much on his first day in the Navy. Then again, I have had my days….well, weeks…..OK, months at a time I might not have been the most trustworthy report. I’ve had my times when I hated the deployment so much that I would have been prepared to swear that my husband wears kitty cat ears under his little hat if it meant we could quit. Quit. QUIT.
Geez, I hope everyone else who is going to contribute to these 360-degree assessments have purer motives than my own. If they don’t, then the 360 used as a screening tool is going to give questionable results at best.
Yet as a mid-career self-assessment tool, the 360 can’t be beat. That’s why I think it would be so helpful for spouses to be included in the process even unofficially. Because a 360 makes a person stop seeing their career from the limits of their own point of view. Instead the individual must confront what it is like to work with them and work for them. It makes a person confront how their personal habits rub off on their work self and their family self.
That is the kind of feedback a spouse is best positioned to give. We spouses see what the military can’t see and has no right to see. But in the context of a personal assessment, home is part of the 360 of a leader’s life. An accurate, objective assessment of how things are really going might help someone to make personal changes that contribute to real success—inside and outside the military.