Is Anonymous Feedback Accurate?

Is anonymous feedback accurate? We hear that question time and time again. The three most common arguments we hear against it are:

  • Anonymity can lead to ballot stuffing. What if one person submits multiple suggestions (phrased differently), polluting our results?
  • Anonymous suggestions are often vague, and since we do not know who left them, we cannot ask for clarification.
  • The need for anonymous feedback is a sign that our team does not feel completely comfortable around one another and suggests a deeper issue that should be addressed first.

The first two we actually agree with. Ballot stuffing can be an issue, especially in large organizations where management may receive thousands of responses. That’s why we’ve implemented a technology in Corpell Anonymous Box that only lets each person respond once. Of course, a smart, savvy respondent may find a way around it, but a majority likely will not. We also offer additional custom features, like limiting the ability to respond to a pool of specific people.

We’ve also solved the issue of vague responses by including an anonymous chat feature in every suggestion box. If your respondent chooses to leave their email address (which remains confidential), you can reply back to them — and they to you. Our system simply relays the messages back and forth, maintaining anonymity.

Finally, we agree that it would be awesome if every employee or team member felt comfortable enough around one another to share their suggestions/complaints/feedback, but that’s simply a utopian fantasy. Even if you think your organization is like that, try collecting anonymous feedback and you’ll probably see some surprising results. You can provide the most open, respectful environment, and there will still be people who do not feel comfortable sharing their opinions publicly. It’s nearly impossible to create an organization with people who are both skilled in their field and feel comfortable expressing their ideas.

What are your concerns with anonymous feedback? We’d love to hear about in the comments or on Facebook.