It is probably assumed more often than not that anonymous feedback gives you the best chance at the most honest results. While that may be true to some extent, I ask you to think about just how effective or helpful that feedback can really be.
Anonymous feedback has the advantage of enabling some people to share their opinions, people that might not do so otherwise. But it has the disadvantage of encouraging negative, maybe even destructive, behavior. Just read the comment sections of anonymous message boards to see what we mean.
That’s why it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks of assuming that anonymous feedback is always best. Here are a few things to think about:
1. Follow-up. Anonymity provides the opportunity for people to say whatever they feel like which can help uncover hidden issues, but also lacks the opportunity for specific follow-up. How will you know if the issue has been resolved? What might be a problem for one person, may not be for the next. There’s simply no way to tell.
2. Consistently safe environment. Employees should feel comfortable enough to speak freely on a regular basis. Using anonymity makes sharing your thoughts seem risky. Work to create an environment where people feel safe to give feedback,offer new ideas, or address problematic behavior and HR issues. If people only ever feel able to give their thoughts anonymously then it’s probably time to revisit your office culture. Employees should feel empowered to speak up, while also being assured of confidentiality when necessary, and that what they are bringing to light will be dealt with quickly and professionally. Everyone should feel that this is consistent. Ask questions, and schedule time to meet with employees for this reason. Scheduling this time indicates you care about their input and will encourage genuine feedback. While it can be difficult to hear negative feedback, it is crucial to the growth of your company. Their input will most likely turn out to be invaluable.
3. Objective vs. subjective. While the personal thoughts and feelings of those working around you should matter, when you take out anonymity while giving feedback you can better weed out some of the subjective feedback that isn’t as productive as the objective feedback. For example someone reporting that their manager, “doesn’t have a clue what they are doing,” because they aren’t close acquaintances isn’t as helpful as specific feedback would be.Plus, circling back to our first reason, you would be able to revisit these thoughts and work out what the real issue is, if there is one, address it, and move on. You will save valuable time, and keep people happier and more engaged in their work.
If you aren’t already aware, MI has a great new communications hub that includes feedback functionality – users can even solicit feedback on specific items or events from other users. But even better than that, it has all the tools you need to turn insights into action. Contact an MI expert today!