I just… a rant.

I am trying to explain to my employer why an ‘Anonymous Survey’ asking for feedback on each of my coworkers isn’t anonymous when I am the only female being asked to fill out the survey.

You might as well ask me to stand up in front of each of them and point out their faults and failures. First off, an environment is not safe for criticism when made anonymous. From a psychological standpoint, anonymous criticisms are perhaps taken even more offensively than open criticisms, ESPECIALLY from peers where those peer coworkers are abundantly aware that some are making more money then others.

Furthermore, not signing your name to the bottom of your comments does not make the comments anonymous. As the lone female in the room, and seemingly the only person with the true understanding of this scenario they’re creating, I think differently then men, I speak differently then men and I convey my thoughts differently then men. My feedback provided would stick out like the metaphorical sore thumb.

Lastly, but certainly not least, it’s insulting to suggest that people who communicate with one another every day, multiple times per day, aren’t able to differentiate the ways in which their peers communicate. Some of the men being asked to fill out this survey have been working together for fifteen years. I 100% GUARANTEE they know exactly how their coworkers write. Just like I know exactly who adds extra capital letters where they’re not necessary, throws ‘…’ into sentences they are still trying to form in their mind whilst they’re typing, or starts the majority of their sentences with the words ‘thoughtfully’, or ‘respectively’ or ‘importantly’, so do each of them. I know how they write, and they know how I write. Much like we have clear differentiators in the way we speak, we have differentiators in the way which we write.

This survey is not anonymous.

It’s going to start conflict.

My employer trying to tell me that I’m not being a team player if I refuse to fill this out truthfully is coercion.

In the hierarchy that is 95% of companies in this world, holding employees responsible to other employees (who are at their same level on the company hierarchy, such as my company is trying to implement here) is an abdication of responsibility on behalf of the managers. If they’re not going to manage, why are they being paid extra to be managers? Implementing this change under the guise of being ‘anonymous’ is dangerously misleading.

Are my coworkers going to say mean things about me? Probably. Am I going to be offended by it? I guess we’ll find out when I see it. Am I going to provide honest feedback? Absolutely not. This is not anonymous, I’m not paid management salary and I know better than to walk into a hornets nest. The men in my office hold grudges. You could argue that’s bad company culture, I’d argue that’s human nature. It’s specific to the men in my office (because there are so few females at my company), but it’s a generalization I believe applicable to the human race as a whole.

Companies that are actually interested in honest feedback from employees need to provide a safe-space for employees to provide said feedback. An ‘anonymous survey’ just isn’t that. If they cannot provide a safe-space for people to provide honest feedback, they shouldn’t be asking for it.

Let the in-fighting begin.

23 thoughts on “I just… a rant.

  1. I used to work in a place that had what they called a “high-risk” interaction style. The theory behind it was that everyone trusted each other so much that they could be completely honest with each other and say what had to be said and the recipient would accept it because he or she just trusted that coworker so darn much.

    In reality, it was a way for management to tell you all the ways you sucked, and if you disagreed … well that just meant you didn’t get how “high-risk” worked. It was, by far, the worst environment I have ever worked in.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Okay, thank you for sharing this. I’m glad I’m not alone in frustrations over this. No one is perfect in this life and having ‘high-risk’ interaction, however it’s presented, is creating hostile environments.

      It drives me absolutely crazy when companies say you’re ‘not a team player’ if you don’t buy in to these harmful communicative practices.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. By the way, if the survey written or computerized? If it’s written, I was going to suggest filling it out by cutting letters out of a magazine, like an old-fashioned hostage note.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Our Developers built a survey on our discord server where we just write in the answers about one another and click ‘submit’. It’s being done by department, because the company thinks it’s fair for us to provide feedback on people in our department, but not on people in other departments because we don’t work with them every day/know all of what they do.

        My department is four people, at the moment. I am the lone female. I used to have three female reps in my department, but one had a baby in June, one had a baby in July and the last had her baby just a few days ago. So… it’s my feedback for the guys and the guys’ feedback for me.

        I still think, though, that even in the larger departments that have 15 people or so, people will know who provided the feedback.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It also just occurred to me that I remember from “All’s Fair,” the book James Carville and Mary Matalin wrote about being a couple working on opposite presidential campaigns, she complained that since she was the only woman on the campaign, it was hard for her to be an anonymous source because they couldn’t refer to “a source close to the campaign” as a “he” in later references.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely right, V. I love it when they say you’re not a team player, or they are “disappointed” in you. My lot were sent off on a Pecos River Experience…long, long ago. It sounded like crap and I didn’t want to go so I got the whole routine that my manager was forced to tell me, not because he believed it, but because his boss told him we had to fill the slots….some clever clogs had sold the package to the company. So gave in. Fine I’ll go. They gave us space available tickets..good luck with that…it took all day to get to MSP and then they fed us dinner with free booze after which they had their first session. Well our gang, being the out-of-order New Yorkers, were a bit loud. Nothing terrible, just noisy. I got told off for not keeping them in order because I was a supervisor. My response…not my responsibility. Then we had the outdoor day, all good, but the day of indoctrination….CRAP. When I got back to base, as well as being in trouble for the rowdies, I got in trouble because I refused to say I had got anything out of the session. I said all I got was aggro going and coming and in between. They didn’t like it. Tough. Stick to your guns. Managers should manage.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Stand your ground on this V. I completely agree with everything you said. When I worked in a company where we did these annual ‘peer review’ thingies, they only amounted to an averaged score of the 4 company values (being easy to work with, respecting individuals etc). As someone who’s also cynical of human nature I found the company culture to be great. It was my first and only such job and I knew it was an unusual place.
    Giving the feedback should NOT be mandatory. Of COURSE you can tell who’s who from their writing 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️.
    Stand your ground and don’t do it, if they make it into a toxic issue then leave. If they try to fire you then sue them. I agree that even if you were in a different company that peoples’ traits would be similar, though these vary massively by industry. In general the more corporate or technical the company and the industry, the less ‘human’ the people are. Different industries really are worlds apart on that.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m just giving everyone ‘Average’ and not adding any extra comments. Pointing out someone’s faults and failures is not how to foster and encourage improvements. It’s just being an asshole. Ya know?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This reminds me of my old company that had a suggestion box where you could “anonymously” make submissions. Such a joke because of all the reasons you’ve explained made it not anonymous.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Our departmental surveys is the same, sure it’s anonymous, but it’s quite easy to work out what team if not what person is filling them in and making comments. Very generalized comments not referring to any working hours or duties if you can manage it is the way to go >

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I completely agree! I never fill out those company surveys honestly. Most companies just use it as a reward system to give managers bonuses for high positive scores. So the only “right” answer is to kiss butt. There’s no accountability for negative scores anyway so it’s a waste of time, effort, and your peace of mind to try otherwise. I’ve survived YEARS of this, and any negative scores just cause punishment for all – like, “workshops” to handle conflict, and laboring the issue until it goes away, etc. So I don’t even try.

    Lol, for fun sometimes, I try to leave comments that suggest I’m someone else in the company. For example, we have an ultra-obsessed bicyclist at work, so I’ve replied to these surveys with “I actually thought about this issue in-depth for hours on my last bike ride and…” And I’ve done similar with other specific characteristics of my coworkers just to try to throw-off the scent from me. But I never reply with anything controversial anyway bc it doesn’t matter.

    Great post! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s an interesting tactic, considering how you can write it from someone else’s perspective. I hadn’t thought of that. As long as it’s not a controversial answer giving, that isn’t a bad idea.


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