I've been at many companies in my career before going out on my own and found anonymous managerial surveys all too common.
I'm a strong believer in that, although engineers are highly analytical, they're just ordinary people which are about half and half analytical and emotional. As someone famously put it, we are feeling machines that think, not thinking machines that feel.
Emotions can be positive and negative but, due to the stress of our field and life, in general, negative emotions will mostly get the best of us – especially most managers who exude that negativity down to our employees, thereby, making them negative, also.
What's worked wonders for me in becoming an optimist and managing negative emotions in me and in others is a very short book called EQ is for Everyone by Dr. Hank Clemons. It will change your life for the better!
Congrats on making it to Friday! Have a great weekend!
Dave Ureña, P.E.
3104 N. Armenia Ave
Tampa, FL 33607
As a quick thought – it seems to me passing comments and opinions anonymously is hardly a sound practice. The reason is that anonymity has an aura of irresponsibility. It is like turning one against another – it is another way of creating divisiveness and mistrusts within an organization – thus hindering productivity.
"How common is it for engineering firms to have a system in which employees provide anonymous feedback to their managers? It seems like this would be a good way to identify and correct poor management, thereby benefiting all parties: employee, manager, and the company overall."
What a great premise!
First, it recognizes that for most people, particularly no less than some 75% or more of civil engineers, giving direct feedback to a manager that is not going to be well-received by that manager is best delivered in a timely and anonymous system.
My perspective on some contributions to this dialogue to date:
Actually, it turns out to create the very opposite effect! Once an employee is safe to report their experience without fear of reprisal, and that employee's experience can now be assessed within a group of other employees who also work with/for the same manager, we would now have a basis for understanding. And then can address corrective and preventive actions to our system of management.
The issue this thread centers upon is the group "People."
More specifically, mainly women and men entering and/or in various segments of the Civil Engineering profession.
Professionally, some years ago I seem to recall the American Consulting Engineers Council, Wash., DC, was promoting the managed use of anonymous employee survey techniques, not for "Hiding," but for the recognition of the implications of a Human Systems Engineering TM process few, if any, civil engineers had been educated nor practiced in using.
Of course, there is more to come.
Thank you for reading and considering my thoughts.
I M A G I N E
Ex.1. When you learn that a long-term client was unhappy, and thinking of leaving your firm, you call them and ask "Please tell me what I need to do to keep earning your trust?"
Ex.2. Your most valued professionals leave your firm, when it is most convenient for them, because of the absence of at least, one of the following:
Lack of challenge; Lack of recognition; and, Lack of opportunity.
And please don't argue those career steps were always there.
Because if they were not known to your staff, then they didn't really exist, did they?
Ex.3. Habits can either save your life, or cause it to end prematurely.
Many brilliant women and men have stated that changing a habit is an extremely difficult challenge for the best of us. For an engineering example most face daily, let's take "The Cost of Quality." The four categoriesare Prevention, Appraisal, Internal Failure, and External Failure.
Despite the unarguable knowledge that Internal Failure and External Failure costs our organizations anywhere from 100 to 1000 times more than Prevention and Appraisal costs, guess what? Habit trumps knowledge every time.
Q. Do you see what the three examples above have in common with this thread?Of course, there will be more to come.Thank you for reading and considering my thoughts.Cheers,Bill
I leave it to you to look it up to see the basics of how this simple calculation works.
"How common is it for engineering firms to '''have a system'in which employees provide anonymous feedback to their managers? It seems like this would be a good way to identify and correct poor management, thereby benefiting all parties: employee,manager, and the company overall."
I M A G I N E
A1.You had no system of prevention or client quality relationship management in place.
A2. You had no system of a planned visible mutual support for an Employee's Career Development Dialogue, at least semi-annually.
A3. At project initiation/startup, even when someone asks a challenging question relative to the scope, schedule or budget, they are 'thanked' and told to just "Get the project work going' and you'll get back to them later. You have no system of having Senior Technical Department staff validating the contracted scope, schedule, and budget within the first 5% of the project's life cycle. You argue "We don't have time or budget for this!" But you will learn later how very wrong you were.Q. Now do you see what the three examples above have in common with this thread?
Managers have a responsibility to their team to check themselves
First, we have to lose words like "good or bad" feedback.
Same goes for "Positive" and "Negative" feedback.
Simply report the findings compared to the requirements.
Next, get over your false impression that if you occupy a chair in the executive suite, that makes you a "King"of sorts whom everyone comes in to work each day to serve. Actually, you need to be your people's Servant-Leader as we continue into the 21st Century.
E.g., When's the last time you came in to the office on a Saturday or Sunday morning, or at 7 pm during the M to F week, walked right into a working team and asked, "How might I help right now? Can I go for coffees? Do you have what you need for this phase of the project work?
Also, stop pretending to be the "Know-it-all engineer/manager/project manager!"
Test for this behavior: When is the last time you said out-loud to project workers "You know what, I'm not sure I understand. Can you help me with this?
There is no easier advice to give nor more difficult advice to receive than that which arrives unsolicited!
Anyway, here is mine…. Although, Anthony, so very subtly slipped it in to his post.
"Create a feedback system to identify areas of improvement."
Dr. W. Edwards Deming reminded us that
"It's the system, not the people."
Simply having alleged performance reviewsof your people, absent of your entire system of management is lunacy in motion!
Sally receives a performance review value of 8.0,
Where X + Y = 8.0
X, Sally's work she is able to control
Y, that part of your organization that impacts Sally's ability to work better.
What is the value of "Y"
The last point, and most challenging.
Any system you wish to take root across, under, over, and though your people will only happen AFTER you have established TRUST.
T = f ( I, R, C)
I, Integrity, R, Reliability, and C, Competence.
And again, 2 out of 3 won't work.
Again, my appreciation if you have actually read this far!
Check your productivity 30 days before, during and 45 days after your "Performance Reviews"