Anonymous feedback - the benefits & misconceptions

Anonymous feedback is a key tool in any leader's toolbox. There are many reasons why someone may not feel comfortable sharing their thoughts face to face. Giving your team an outlet to share their feedback, thoughts, concerns, and opinions in an anonymous fashion is powerful.

While there are misconceptions regarding anonymous feedback, they are mostly due to the limits of common feedback tools. Below we’ll deep dive into the benefits of anonymous feedback and address the misconceptions.

Let's start with the benefits

The data is clear - it helps the bottom line 📈

According to a recent Salesforce report, Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6x more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

A Corporate Executive Board (Gartner) study found that companies that encouraged honest feedback among their staffs, and that scored highly in the area of open communication, delivered a 10-year total shareholder return 270% higher than other companies—7.9% compared to 2.1%.

A 2011 Fierce survey found that over 70% of individuals believe that a lack of candor impacts its company’s ability to perform optimally.

The data is clear: Team members like to work in an environment that encourages honest feedback, has open communication, and allows for candor.

It allows your team to be honest 🗣️

Even when you ask your team to be honest in 1-on-1s or through non-anonymous feedback channels, they will always have to consider the risks or backlash that might occur if they say something against the grain. In an anonymous feedback environment, they can completely let go of these concerns and give you the honest information you need to make the best decisions for your business.

It helps you identify problems earlier ⏱️

People are more likely to speak up about small or medium issues when they can do so anonymously. Lowering the barrier to provide feedback reduces the fear of seeming petty. Nipping problems in the bud means these issues won’t get a chance to fester and grow bigger. Oftentimes, the biggest headaches come from ignoring these issues until they are late in their lifecycle.

It levels the playing field ⚖️

New hires or junior team members often have fresh insights, but senior members have more sway with their feedback, opinions, and choices. Even though these fresh insights may be what you need, chances are they won’t be given the opportunity they deserve. In an anonymous feedback environment, junior members, new hires, and more reserved team members all have the same weight as extroverted senior members.

It shows your team you value them and their input 🙌

When individuals feel heard and valued, they are much more likely to give you useful feedback and to feel empowered to perform their best work. Just as important, a large reason people leave companies is that they don't feel listened to or heard. You should be noticing a theme by now. By allowing them to give their anonymous feedback, you are demonstrating that you value them as an employee and that you are aware of areas for improvement in your company.

It spotlights common issues quickly 🔦

If you get a lot of feedback about one thing in particular, you can be sure it's something that a lot of people are concerned about. In an anonymous environment, it's much easier to identify this as a problem worth solving. The good news is that once you address the issue, you can be sure that your team members will take note and appreciate your efforts.

Let's get into the misconceptions regarding anonymous feedback

Feedback is one-sided, there is no way to reply 💬

That may be the case for most anonymous feedback tools such as Google forms, but not for Incognito for Slack. If a team member selects "Allow a Reply" when they submit their anonymous message you have the ability to send back a message without knowing their identity. This gives you the ability to follow up, ask questions, and share your insight!

Anonymous feedback can be mean-spirited 😒

There is certainly a risk when you allow everyone to send anonymous messages without moderation. Some people may take advantage of that to air dirty laundry or share negative feedback. But this isn’t helpful -- it’s spiteful. Incognito for Slack understands this concern which is why by default all anonymous messages are sent into a private leadership channel. This way you control what is shared publicly and what is kept private. Of course, if you have a use case for a public channel such as having everyone on your team vote on town hall questions, you can set up a public feedback channel as well.

Feedback could be influenced by a couple of employees 📊

With feedback tools like Google forms or Officevibe, which don’t allow for pseudonyms, it's impossible to tell if recurring feedback themes are widespread or simply one or two employees repeatedly voicing their opinion creating outsized influence. This is why each user gets an anonymous animal alias through Incognito for Slack. By using this animal alias, you will know if the person giving feedback is a unique voice or if the theme is shared across many employees.

Give it a go!

What's stopping you from implementing anonymous feedback? Incognito for Slack can be set up in 2 clicks for your whole team. Start your two-week free trial today to give your team a safe space to share their thoughts.