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My team members have concerns about anonymity - what can I do?

TeamEcho anonymizes survey results down to the database level. Nevertheless, team members may express concerns about anonymity. Why this may be the case and what you can do to address these concerns is discussed below.

Sometimes questions about anonymity arise in a team - especially as it pertains to writing comments. Why, you ask?

At TeamEcho, we distinguish between technological anonymity and perceived anonymity. Whereas technological anonymity refers to the technological requirements in the tool, with which we guarantee the anonymity of team members, perceived anonymity refers to the degree of anonymity that team members actually feel.

TeamEcho maintains the highest degree of technological anonymity. We only record whether a user has already voted, but never establish a link between the user and the survey results. You can read more about technological anonymity here.

The most common reasons for low perceived anonymity are:

  • Teams have few team members
  • A lack of positive feedback climate: Team members feel it is not safe and/or desirable to give feedback within the team itself or the organization, in general
  • Team members worry that their writing style will make them stand out and therefore their comments will be clearly attributed to them
  • Team members are concerned that they could be associated with a particular topic

Below, you'll learn what you, as a leader, can do to increase the level of perceived anonymity.

Positive feedback climate:
Make sure giving feedback is safe and desired

Giving feedback requires a positive feedback culture. In a positive feedback culture, employees believe that giving feedback is both desired and safe. As a manager, you can of course have a significant influence on the feedback climate, however team members also have to be on board.

A particular challenge is to limit the team's curiosity about who has written a certain comment. Even though it may be appealing in some situations to track down the author of a comment, the team should maintain that anonymity, since TeamEcho ensures full anonymity in the tool to create a safe space for feedback.

Even if, as a team lead, you strive to create an environment where it is safe and desirable to give feedback, it is of utmost importance to communicate this clearly to your team. If your team members fear consequences that could arise from commenting in TeamEcho, they could also feel discouraged from writing comments.

Tip: Feedback has no face

Within teams of our most seasoned TeamEcho users, the saying is often, "feedback has no face." This means that everyone focuses on the content, rather than the connections to possible authors.

Give team members tips on how to write as anonymously as possible

It might be helpful to share a tip or two on how to write anonymously with your team members. Here's a tried-and-true tip:

Tip: Write like someone else

To avoid being identified as the comment author, it might also help to imagine how a made-up person or a person you know (e.g., your neighbor, your uncle) would write the comment. This is a simple way to change your writing style a bit.

Here you can find more information about anonymity and security at TeamEcho.