(Free list of 11 online applications for employee feedback, appreciation, and retention)
When is it OK to give anonymous feedback?
I was disappointed and excited this week when I did a poll of the 1200 project managers on a webinar I was delivering and it showed that 56% said they don’t give their team members enough feedback. Clearly, I was disappointed that so many leaders felt they were not giving their team enough feedback but I was excited that they were aware of this and took the initiative to join the webinar to learn effective feedback techniques.
In today’s post, I will address a question I was asked at the end of the webinar.
Q. When Is It OK To Give Anonymous Feedback?
It frustrates me that so many corporate evaluations, especially 360o ones, are often completed anonymously. I have always said that if you aren’t giving the feedback to a person face to face (in person or virtually), you shouldn’t give it at all.
Personal feedback is just that, personal. I understand it can be a nerve-wracking experience but with the proper techniques, it can be a smooth and productive exchange.
When giving personal feedback, the receiver needs to be given an opportunity to respond to the information they are receiving. Their response may be as simple as Thank You or could be as elaborate as explaining a complete misunderstanding. There has to be an opportunity for a dialogue. People naturally give unspecific feedback. If it was given anonymously, the receiver could not explore the feedback further with the person and at best the feedback opportunity would be wasted. At worst, it could put the receiver in a tailspin of confusion and self-doubt.
When is Anonymous OK?
If you have ever read the comments under an article on a news website that are allowed to be left anonymously, you know the ridiculous things people will say when their face is not linked to a comment.
People often view anonymous feedback as a place to vent, many times digging into petty things that slightly bother them but not enough to bring it up with someone in person. It is also rarely ever growth oriented unless a specific solution focused question is asked.
The only time I believe feedback could be given anonymously is when it is not personal and identifying the receiver is not relevant. For example, when you are interested in big data, such as a company survey, or information is delivered where it is not important who specifically gave the information.
I love that the future of employee-driven feedback will be real-time responses from mobile devices, but I am concerned that most of the mobile feedback apps are anonymous. If this is the case in your organization, make sure you and your team still give face-to-face personal feedback. In the end, your team will be much more effective!
Here is an article I wrote with a list of 11 online applications for employee feedback, appreciation, and retention.
I firmly believe that if you are not willing to deliver feedback in person, their actions are probably an annoyance as it is not affecting you or the team enough and you need to get over it and move on.
People who say you get more honest and detailed feedback from anonymous feedback aren’t asking for enough in-person feedback.
For strategies on providing and receiving feedback and feedforward effectively, see these posts below.
- 3 Steps for Managing Surprise Constructive Feedback
- 3 Keys to Effectively Receiving Feedback
- The Ultimate Feedback Technique of Today’s Leaders
Action: Teach your team 3 effective feedback strategies that will increase the amount and effectiveness of their feedback. (If you are looking for strategies to teach, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help you out.)
Until next time… Embrace the Adventure
Shawn Stratton is an international leadership and team building consultant, professional speaker, bestselling author and Ironman competitor.
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