Since you’re reading this post, let’s assume you’re a manager who really wants to hear what’s on his employees’ minds. Well, you can either wait for them to give you feedback with their names attached or you can proactively go after anonymous feedback.
Can you guess which approach is better? Yup, the anonymous one. Here’s why and how to work with anonymous employee feedback.
Avoid the open door policy fiasco: Ah, the open door policy. What employee doesn’t love walking into her manager’s office and giving candid, negative feedback? Uh, no employee. That’s who. Don’t kid yourself. This policy is nice in theory, but terrible in execution. It doesn’t give employees a safe place to be honest. For a staffer to feel confident that his voice will be heard without repercussion, anonymity is crucial.
Focus on what, not who: When you read or hear a negative response to your management techniques or your company from an employee, you want to pounce. It’s easy to take it personally. Your instinct is to try to figure out who's behind it. Don’t. The person behind the comment isn’t what’s important; the comment itself is. Stay objective. Analyze what’s going on. Is it an interpersonal challenge, a professional opportunity issue, or something else? Focus on what's being said, not who's saying it.
The best reason for this, arguably, is the next point.
When there's one, there's more: If one person is thinking it, there are likely more. If something is especially concerning, consider what it might mean for multiple people to think the same thing. Doing so will help you think about what feedback to tackle first.
One of our clients, Monica Wilke of Rider Insurance Company, says it best. She says her team’s regular surveys “provide a lot of useful information as to how employees are feeling. Since employees can respond anonymously, we're getting very honest feedback. Also, the surveys give us a chance to clear up some misconceptions that employees have about various procedures in the company.”
So give anonymity a try. You'll be amazed at the great feedback you'll receive.