Anonymous questionnaires in project management

Anonymous questionnaires in project management

Articles about personnel management regularly appear on Khabra, where each author shares his best practices. Today I want to discuss a little-known but powerful management tool – anonymous surveys. Imagine that every member of your team can speak up without fear of repercussions or criticism. That’s how hidden problems become visible, and honest feedback turns into valuable strategic data.

Anonymity The intimate sphere of our lives is not for nothing that browsers have an incognito function, and Telegram is so popular. And this environment allows you to express your opinion more openly without fear of public criticism or other restrictions. Therefore, it is quite logical to use these mechanisms in management as well – to give employees the opportunity to express themselves about the state of the project or team in a safe environment, which will help reveal hidden problems and lead to improvements. First, I touched on the topic of anonymous questionnaires earlier in my blog, when I analyzed the case of firing an employee, where the main goal is to retain a young and promising specialist.

Of course, anonymous questionnaires have disadvantages: unconstructive criticism, personal claims or unnecessary generalization. But I think they are very easy to level, and the potential benefits far outweigh the costs.

When conducting anonymous surveys, I adhere to the following principles:

  • Anonymity. The survey must be REALLY anonymous, so no referral links or corporate systems – they know how to explicitly or implicitly track someone leaving feedback, so – google forms or office 365.

  • Regularity. A one-time event will not allow you to assess changes in dynamics, identify new problems or risks, update plans or introduce new improvements. For me, it is optimal to conduct surveys once a quarter — it gives an opportunity to make major changes if necessary and track the development of the project dynamically.

  • Simplicity. There is no need to try to understand why the release before NG failed several years ago, to give many options for answers and to require mandatory fields to be filled. My opinion: it is ideal when a person can spend no more than 5-7 minutes on recall.

  • Openness. The results must be open, and no matter how painful it is for you to read everything written in an anonymous review, you must publish its results to everyone who participated in the survey. Of course, some kind of censorship is quite acceptable and frank scumbags and game will have to be rubbed out: non-constructive a la “Masha dura gi-gi-gi” – delete without a second glance, but even if you are treated badly – and you see it through feedback, insert your the ego is much deeper.

  • Improvement plan (improvement plan). It must be compiled based on the results of an anonymous survey, otherwise any sense of conducting it is lost, and colleagues will no longer share interesting information if it does not lead to positive changes and results. In general, for me, an effective improvement plan looks like this: the problem, the actions to solve it, the person responsible, and the date by which this problem is supposed to be solved.

  • Intelligibility. Evaluation criteria should be clear and simple, for example, the five-point scale we are all familiar with from school years, traffic light – green everything is fine, red – sum-sum sum or just text.

  • One answer. Each participant is allowed only one response or withdrawal to ensure the fairness and validity of the data collected.

  • Reporting. Prior to the next anonymous survey, staff should be briefed on the performance or status of issues identified in the previous survey. This has a positive effect on the motivation of employees to participate in further surveys and give truthful feedback.

An example of a questionnaire:

  • Do you like the current project? – Oh no. (Used variations: Please rate the project on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is a hate project and 5 is a dream project. My project status color is green, yellow, red.)

  • What do you like about the current project? – Text box where you can write anything.

  • What would you like to change/improve in the current project? I use questions in this tone (and not just: “write what you don’t like about the project”) because I want to get constructive criticism and push people to make positive improvements in the project.

And an example on Google forms of how it might look (based on an anonymous survey form for my blog). This is a sample template, and you can determine the options that best suit your needs.

In my practice, I use anonymous questionnaires to:

  • Understanding team motivationAs a result of reducing staff turnover due to proactive personnel management (I wrote about the difference between proactive and reactive management in my blog).

  • Finding and fixing hidden problemsbefore they turn into pain and suffering. No matter how great and smart a manager is, the team faces bigger problems – he discovers something that he cannot see alone.

  • Execution of project business transformations. This is a separate big topic and I will talk about it separately.

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