I recently came across a feedback tool called Unvarnished and a related blog written by Tim Gould. Tim, your perspective is spot on. I couldn’t help but offer a few comments of my own.
A place where people can make comments about others and not take accountability or responsibility for what they write or say is RIDICULOUS. I am not sure why anyone would spend the time or money on something that will just end up being a cesspool of personal opinion and personal attacks. That is not productive for any business and could be very distracting. It is LOADED with HR nightmares. I don’t mean HR inconveniences; I mean very real nightmares that could result in serious defamation and misconduct issues – just based on allegations because someone is ticked off.
It is more worthwhile spending time and money coaching/teaching managers and employees to give and receive feedback. In general, I am not a fan of any completely anonymous 360 feedback tools. In order to fully understand the feedback, you need to know who (at some level) provided the comments and from what context they are providing the information. For example, do you really think an employee who was just disciplined by the manager for significant job performance issues will have anything good to say? However, if negative feedback came from an employee who is an outstanding performer, it could have significant impact. There are many criteria that can influence (and should influence) the way feedback is received and eliminating the context of who is providing it diminishes its meaning and impact.
If you really have constructive feedback (employees or managers), there are always various ways to provide that feedback. As an employee, if you don’t feel like anyone in the company will listen without reprisal, then you should really consider finding a new company. If you are a manager and do not feel comfortable giving feedback to employees, you should seek coaching from your manager or HR. If this is something that you just can’t do, then you should not be a manager.
One thing is for sure, IF YOU SAY IT, OWN IT! Don’t hide behind anonymity.