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Should Ideas be Anonymous? Three Reasons to Require Names When Gathering Ideas

Can you recall a time when you had to give feedback or ideas about a product or service through an anonymous survey? Would the information you shared differ compared to if your name was included with your feedback? Most people respond differently when they are anonymous compared to when they are not. When you have to attach your name to something, it brings a sense of accountability and responsibility.

We recommend asking employees and customers for their name when gathering ideas from them. Here are three reasons to click the required box when it comes to names on your survey or idea management program.

Reason #1: You will get higher quality and thoughtful responses with names, compared to anonymous.

We take pride in the work that we do, especially when we know that others will see it. In fact, studies show that the mere presence of others energizes us and makes us work better. When it comes to idea generation, social facilitation can have a big impact, when employees are aware that others know who they are. They will be motivated to think critically about the information they share.

Reason #2: You will reduce the amount of wasteful, abusive comments.

You are more likely to get quality and thoughtful responses this way. You can also expect to reduce the amount of abusive comments that are so common with anonymous feedback. Anonymity can be a shield for those who want to sabotage, harm, or distract others, as there is little accountability for these acts.

Many studies have shown that when people are separate from their identity, they are more likely to behave poorly and even to commit crimes. When it comes to idea generation, this could mean providing false, misleading, or extremely negative feedback to the company. Whereas when individuals are aware that they are being held accountable, they are more likely to act in ways that are responsible.

Reason #3: You will have a way to connect with the idea generator.

Another reason to ask for names is that it allows you to recognize great ideas and to address problems that emerge directly.

Suppose someone submits a genius idea, and you want to celebrate their contribution. How can you do this without knowing whose idea it is? What if someone submits an idea that is unclear and you need clarification? What if someone reports a problem or issue and you need to address it with them directly? Of course, you would need to know the source of the ideas in order to address these issues. Asking for names also sends a clear message that their ideas are important.

Considering the benefits of requiring people to share their name when asking for ideas and feedback, and the potential risks of anonymity, we recommend asking for this information. It could not only improve the quality and relevance of the comments you receive, but also, it provides a way to increase employee engagement and involvement, motivating them to put their best ideas out there.

Harness the power of employee ideas.

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