All businesses should want to get input from their employees. Companies that value feedback from all levels will be better suited to resolving internal and external issues. Anonymous feedback can be a super effective way to collect this information.
These are five times when anonymous feedback is helpful at work.
Get More Honest Feedback
Feedback from employees and peers is one of the best ways to improve your own performance. You often can’t even perceive areas for improvement unless someone lets you know about them. Anonymous feedback can be helpful for this because it gives individuals the freedom to say exactly what’s on their minds.
We have a natural tendency to avoid conflict. Due to this, many people are hesitant to bring something up in person. It can be intimidating to tell someone they need to reconsider an aspect of what they’re doing. This process gets even trickier when you’re trying to say this to your boss, or someone who’s known to not take criticism well. In those situations, saying the wrong thing can be harmful to your career.
Feedback Isn’t Too Vague
Anonymous feedback isn’t always done right. One executive team nixed anonymous feedback from their yearly review because they found people weren’t being specific enough. It’s important to know what situations warrant anonymous feedback, and how to go about making it work in the best way.
Specificity can be tough when it might reveal someone’s identity. This completely negates the usefulness of anonymous feedback. However, anonymous feedback is effective when the boundaries are set out in the form of a poll or survey. Don’t ask for anonymous feedback with an open-ended question. Create an anonymous survey with a comprehensive set of answers, which will give you an idea of what truly needs improvement. Poll Everywhere has a set of useful tools for enabling anonymity in this way.
It Can Be Followed by Actionable Solutions
Working off the point of specificity, anonymous feedback is most useful when it can be followed up by action. While it’s nice to get a general idea for how people are perceiving things in the workplace, that isn’t helpful if it can’t be matched with solutions. When seeking anonymous feedback, find ways to frame questions that will lead to actual progress.
Some Controversial Topics Warrant Anonymity
Not all feedback carries the same weight. Some topics are significantly easier to approach than others. For instance, there’s nothing controversial about telling a peer to reformat their work in a certain way to adhere to company policies. Things like this typically can be accomplished face-to-face, or through a message, without any conflict.
But just like the real world, there are more heated issues that come up in workplaces. Consider the implications of an employee making inappropriate comments about other workers. This is a scenario that dives to a deeper level, as bringing this up directly would likely make that employee get defensive, or even lead to some form of retaliation. Situations like this can be handled much more smoothly through anonymous feedback.
There’s another type of controversiality that can be made less strenuous by anonymous feedback. Groupthink can be disastrous for businesses. This is where people stick to the consensus of the group instead of voicing their rational, contrarian opinions. Poor decisions are made when individuals don’t feel like they can voice disagreement. Anonymous feedback can help facilitate this.
Enables More Accurate Voting Decisions
Anonymous feedback is essential when voting. Employees shouldn’t have to reveal their choices when casting a vote. Whether it’s determining what kind of snacks to have in the breakroom, or who gets promoted, anonymous votes let the majority speak without feeling self-conscious.
Anonymous feedback can be a highly useful tool for all kinds of workplaces. Granting employees the ability to say what’s on their minds can foster growth and improvement. Any organizations serious about gaining valuable internal insights should create a system for anonymous feedback.