FEEDBACK – If You Say It, Own It!

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.


  1. Ashley says:

    I think anonymity can be a useful tool for social good. Take what’s happening on as just one example. Yes, many of the comments are degenerate garbage, but it’s also an avenue to expose wife-beaters, dead-beats, scammers, and others that a site that doesn’t allow anonymous commenting.

    There’s good and bad in everything and I’m surprised that more people don’t recognize this.

  2. Karen says:

    Thanks for your opinion and perspective for social good. All my comments and blogs are specifically targeted to address people management and business management issues.

  3. Jo Ayoubi says:

    Hi Karen

    I agree that, in an ideal world, or organisation, anonymous feedback shouldn’t be necessary.

    The reality is that sometimes an employee just can’t or won’t give direct feedback to their manager, and are not in the fortunate position of being able to go to another job!

    Similarly, not all managers have the skills or willingness to listen to face to face feebdack.

    That’s why anonymity is important in 360 Degree Feedback – it gives an opportunity for people who don’t have power and position to give some upward feedback to their managers and bosses.

  4. It’s really well done! Respect to author.

  5. Karen says:

    There are certainly good uses of 360 feedback and there are some terrific tools out there. My point was to make sure that managers and employees are not to hiding behind 360 processes to communicate with each other. Also, I recommend actually trying to achieve the “ideal world.” Don’t assume it is out of reach. Employers have choices of who they employ and that includes the management staff. Accommodating managers that can’t communicate or take feedback actually encourages bad management practices. Employers should not settle for less when they hire and manage people. Likewise, employees who only want to use anonymity to communicate with their manager are not highly productive in my mind. I say, set expectations (for both managers and employees), train, coach and implement programs that teach and support this process. 360 programs can be one dimension of this. In reality, I may spend my professional lifetime trying to foster good communication, but I would not settle for less.

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