Anonymous Survey

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about attitude survey: How do I know if my boss saw my answers?

My director asked everyone to fill out an anonymous survey. I did. Then my manager calls me in the conference room to have a talk to me about the anonymous survey and has been acting negative towards me ever since. What can I do? I feel she is targeting me now because of this survey. Any advice would be great. Thanks,

Signed, Anonymous???


Dear Anonymous???:

Advice? Here’s my advice in a nutshell: Meet with your manager again and say what you have in this question. Be upfront with him that you feel now after the survey that was to be anonymous, you sense he treats you negatively. Say you want to learn how you might change if he has reasonable negative assessment of your performance. Couple this with a request that you want his advice on your career path.

That’s my short answer. It is not a quick fix, but can develop into a positive working relationship. Rationale for this synopsis of advice is lengthy. The fact is that you do not feel anonymous. Nor were you anonymous before you took the survey. In order for surveys to have ample anonymity, they must be given to a large number; I think about 20 or more, and they should be administered by a non-interested party.

Yet they can be of value if even given to a few subordinates by a superior. Positives feedback to a boss re-enforces certain behavior and negative feedback provokes reflection about one’s behavior. In your case, you interpret your director’s talk and action after the survey as aimed at your defects. This might be true depending on what was the content of the conversation with your boss? Your query to the Workplace Doctors raises questions of why do you think she is targeting you and what specifically did she say that makes you feel she is negative toward you?

You ask for advice in light of the feeling that your director now is negative about you. Before addressing that let’s suppose the survey was not given, what was the relationship you felt you had with your boss? How long had you worked there? Had you had a recent positive performance evaluation? Do you think she was honest at that time? I predict that you got at least a good and probably an above average evaluation in most categories. If so, believe them. Don’t now think she is negative unless you can elicit specific criticism of your performance, and if you can find specifics, then evaluate that; as to what is reasonable and what is not. So now what are your options?

There are several; some that are overlapping. You may think of more, but these are the those that come to mind:

-Silently fume and see her as enemy.

-Gossip with coworkers about how you think she is targeting you.

-Determine that you are overly sensitive and might be misinterpreting your boss’ behavior and decide to work so professionally that she will see you in a new light.

-Meet with her again and confront her frankly saying that you feel she is now targeting you negatively; agree with her about what she says that is reasonable and dispute about what you think is unreasonable.

-Not confront her about your feelings that she is treating you negatively but meet with her to get specifics and pledge to work on correcting those? Probably you have considered all of these although you may not have spelled them out.

In short, you can go on as if this didn’t occur and bite your tongue or you can find a constructive or destructive way to voice your feelings. Above all you will not want to allow this negative feeling to play over and over in your head like a cracked record. That could descend into an “I hate to go to work because I have a bad boss” attitude that will make you want to seek another job (of course which is also another option). This is to say, don’t become obsessed with this. Keep it in perspective. Work is not fun in itself unless you do your part to make it fun for others as well as yourself.

You will survive and will cope no matter what advice I give and what you elect to do or not do. While weighing your options, look in the mirror. Ask yourself if you have worked at this job as just a job or as a one stage on a career path. Do you like your work? Are you good at it? Might you benefit from more training within your current organization or from seeking that outside? Are you a happy camper that does all you can reasonably do to make your boss and coworkers’ jobs easier and more effective? Are you a cheerleader or a whiner who feels insecure and fears your boss? From time to time do you meet with you manager to discuss how things are going; what you do well and what needs improvement? Have you brought to the attention of your manager ways to cut wasted supplies, wasted time, wasted energy, and wasted money?

Have you suggested quality improvements of goods and services to internal and/or external customers? Also have you thought about what might make your work group and workplace more successful? Does your manager frequently lead your work group as a coach does with a team before and after a game in a skull session? Answering such questions is not done enough. Most employees, I suspect, simply work from day to day to make a good wage and hoping to have their boss’ approval and hoping their boss doesn’t know what they think if she or he is a bad boss. Your question is a sign that you are sensitive and concerned enough to work through this uneasy feeling you feel the boss has about you.

Therefore, I predict you will appreciate the implication for action and attitude of my signature sentence: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. You understand that this anxiety you have is more than an ego thing, it is realizing that work is harder when you sense disapproval. Things will go better if you communicate about it with your boss in ways that demonstrate your commitment to making her as well as your jobs more effective and satisfying, and hopefully will bring even a little fun to your work group.

Follow Up: Wow. That was a really good response. I will take your advice and do what I can to make the workplace better. The whole issue was 32 of my co-workers work from home and only 6 work in the office. I am the only employee in the office that wants to work from home and not. I think that is what gave me away on the anonymous survey. I liked your advice and now will just focus on mending the relationship(which I damaged from my boss). I agree I was too sensitive or maybe I still am sensitive. I did not even realize that until you mentioned it. Also, you were right about wanting approval from my boss. I do not want to be on my boss bad side. I will have a talk with her. I have asked everyone about this situation and you truly gave excellent advice. I will look through the archives for more insightful and inspiring thoughts. Thanks!

William Gorden