I work for a large company that started a process called Agile Transformation in order to raise productivity and shorten delivery time. This happened about 3-4 years ago and recently one of the top managers announced that a platform called Peakon will be used to get feedback from the employees.

This manager emphasized that he knows about information not bubbling up from "the bottom of the food chain", so the purpose of the platform is to get feedback from virtually all the employees.

Surveys will be run twice a month and each employee will have to answer about 10 random questions from a pool of several dozens that might change over time. Each question has a qualitative indicator (1-10) and feedback text box.

All feedback is anonymous, but it will be visible for the line manager, the manager above the line managers, the guy at the top management and his assistants.

Also, each of these actors may react to feedback by agreeing, requesting more information or even requesting 1:1 (employee must agree).

My manager encouraged us to use the platform and provide feedback whenever we can and make it as specific and fact based as possible.

Now, coming to my concern. For the last 2-3 years my team and I have had major issues when collaborating with a department within our business unit. The main problem is the manager who is opposing the Agile Transformation, sabotages most of the meetings (e.g. rarely reach any conclusions, rejects any improvement that involves an effort for his team, does nothing to prevent his team to provide ridiculously high effort estimations that undermine working in sprints).

As an effect, more than 15% of the people in his department either migrated or left the company in the last year (this is a large figure, as the company has a generally low employee turnover).

My feeling are that I should use this platform to provide meaningful feedback also about this manager.

However, I have two concerns:

  • anonymity - each survey is announced via e-mail containing a link. This link is enough for the platform to create a connection between the person and the feedback
  • past experience - such feedback was heavily discouraged in the past and most of the people did not manage to convince their managers about the issues with this specific managers (or at least nothing changed). Cassandra metaphor comes into my mind when writing this.

Question: How to provide anonymous feedback about a problematic manager in order to be helpful?

  • 1
    When they say managers can see the surveys, is this not just referring to the answers and not just actually who has responded. – andtodd Aug 10 at 6:11
  • @andtodd - they can see the answers, but they only that it is someone from their capability (which usually is somewhere between 15 and 40 people). Of course, if some manager knows his/her people well, it can make a guess about who wrote a feedback based on issues described, writing style etc. – Alexei Aug 10 at 6:13
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    Aside, not enough for an answer: "This link is enough for the platform to create a connection between the person and the feedback" - and this is exactly why this is outsourced to a third party platform. While you may not trust your management to keep things anonymous, part of Peakon's business model is being trusted to do just that. – Philip Kendall Aug 10 at 7:38
up vote 4 down vote accepted

"this is a large figure, as the company has a generally low employee turnover" - and upper management hasn't noticed this? Either they are very remiss, or they are already doing something about it behind the scenes (which they certainly would not announce publicly).

Question: How to provide anonymous feedback about a problematic manager in order to be helpful?

My answer - just go ahead and do so, if that's what you want.

Personally, I wonder why your own manager is not aware of the situation. It affects him more than it affects you.

Have you talked to him about it? If so, and nothing has been done, then it is likely that nothing will be done. In which case, you have to decide if it is worth changing jobs for (I don't think so, but ymmv).

If you have not yet talked to him, then why not? You only have yourself to blame in that case, and my answer is to request a one to one immediately. Explaining the situation might require some back & forth which is not available on a form, and face to face is always better than written communication (unless you want to leave an audit trail; in which case, use email direct to him, rather than an anonymous survey).

Tl;dr - the survey is a red herring. Your own manager is affected by the other manager's behaviour and should already be aware of it. If not, talk to him ASAP.

If your manager is wanting to improve the service they offer via feedback surveys, they must prepare for some constructive crticism. You’ve clearly got good intentions. If your manager can’t handle this, they should never have posted the survey as the only way to make things better is to know what’s not working so well.

If you respond to the survey and your manager approaches you, discuss it. You could even approach your manager direct about any concerns or issues you have, prior to responding to survey.

  • Yes, direct approach is good, but the platform has an advantage: if several employees have the same issue, than it is really an issue. In this case, the manager can use this to talk to the superiors, who can also have access to the feedback. – Alexei Aug 10 at 6:17
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    Yes I understand that. What I should have said is be direct with your manager, but continue to use the platform. Things can be said much easier in person so he/she understands your intent. You shouldn’t have to do this though if they wish to make best use of the opportunity and you shouldn’t be worried about responding. – andtodd Aug 10 at 6:18

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