Anonymous Review-Are You Worried?

Recently one of our departments initiated an anonymous review to determine how the staff perceived its performance. There were questions on processes and people, and it generally revolved around the employees’ satisfaction with the performance of the department. It made me wonder a few things:

  • Would HR be bold enough to initiate an anonymous review?
  • What would the results be?
  • How would HR respond to the results?

Initiating the review

When the department lead came to me asking for help in developing the short survey, I asked what their goal was. Simply put, it was to find out from the user’s point of view what gaps they had in their products/services and fill those needs as quickly and effectively as possible.

Think about it–for many people, they are not interested in learning their weaknesses and don’t really want to hear from anyone about what they could do better. It takes an open mind and sincere dedication to getting the job done properly to step out and ask for that criticism.

As far as the anonymous element, they understood that when you attribute responses to individual people, you sometimes get skewed results. Allowing respondents to be free and unfettered in their responses will provide a better picture of the situation and the needs of the user base.

Finding the pulse

Think for a moment. If I walked around with a stack of survey forms and a pen and interviewed the staff at your company, how would they respond to these questions?

  1. How important does the HR Department at our company make you feel?
  2. How well do you think the HR Department understands what you need to be successful in your position or project?
  3. Overall, how responsive has the HR Department been to your questions or concerns?
  4. How clear was the information provided to you regarding benefits, policies, and processes.?
  5. How user friendly are the HR Processes?
  6. Overall, are you satisfied with the HR Department at our company?
  7. What do you like most about the HR Department?
  8. What would you like the Procurement Department to do better?

Are you confident in how they would respond? Are you a little shaky in some areas? Surely you’re not a 100% “extremely satisfied” across the board…

Following up

The hard part about surveys is not delivering them. It’s analyzing the data and determining what follow up (if any) is required. So let’s just assume that you’re normal and you get a negative response on one question. It’s probably not a complete surprise, but now the pressure is on to actually work to solve the problem. When someone has the opportunity to respond to a survey with their concerns, they expect those concerns to be addressed now that they are a known factor.

For instance, if #5 didn’t get great responses, then you need to do some research on what specifically in the processes are bothering people. Are they too cumbersome? Too slow? Too process-oriented when it needs to have more of a personal touch? First determine the exact problem, and then work to resolve it.

One final note on the solution side–don’t be afraid to use employees as guinea pigs. One of my friends always used to say, “Treat your employees like guinea pigs.” It meant that you should test new ideas, try pilot programs, and evaluate big changes against a small sample size before rolling out to the entire organization. Feel free to do that here. It’s less risky for you, it allows employees to have some say in the final direction, and generally everyone is happier than if you had thrown out yet another blanket policy that didn’t address the needs of the staff properly.

What are your thoughts? Any chance of you doing an anonymous survey of your department/team any time soon?

2 thoughts on “Anonymous Review-Are You Worried?

  1. akaBruno

    Anonymous review is a staple of academia, as students review professors at the end of each quarter and semester, and professors have no idea who made a particularly positive or negative comment

  2. Kristina

    We do anonymous reviews of the HR department quarterly where I work now…It’s a tad bit annoying to me because the HR department gets 5’s all the way around…EVERY STINKING TIME! I’ve never worked at a company or with a company that didn’t have a STACK of problems to fix. I’m sure we have problems they just aren’t obvious to everyone else and/or not anything specifically called out on the survey. By the way, the highest rating you can get is a 5.

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