Anonymous Surveys: I Scream, You Scheme, We All…Know It Was You

Think of this dessert and story as an intermezzo, a kind of palate cleanser for your adult taste buds or a sweet for your inner child that is about to get called out for unsavory behavior. We are taking a time-out to reflect upon the anonymous associate opinion survey with a spicy ginger cookie ice-scheming sandwich. There is no chocolate in this recipe because chocolate is for winners.

Ice Cream Sandwich
Ice-Scheming Sandwiches

Get the ice cream and put on the stretchy pants.

You failed a test. The annual anonymous associate opinion survey was really a character assessment instead of an evaluation of the organization you work for or the supervisors that you imagined you were reviewing. Huh? Yes, the snarky commentary you reveled in dishing was, in fact, an appraisal of your current level of maturity…because how we respond to any situation is always about us, including how we behave in anonymous surveys. Wait, brain-freeze!

In fairness, your organization set you up by tempting your trifling self with an outlet for useless venting.

Your mean-spirited side delighted in the cathartic purge and now you are feeling smug, hoping that someone you don’t like will get into trouble, right? What are you, 12? This is your lesson, not the lesson you thought you were teaching.

It’s going to be ok; we have ice cream and a whole year to mature so we pass the character test next year.

Some Truth About Surveys

First, the survey is not exactly anonymous because it’s fairly easy to figure out from the woeful specifics provided exactly whose experience is being revealed. You wrote a novel so of course your writing style and creative spelling exposes the author. Whew, you are thinking, you’re still in deep cover because everyone uses words like imbroglio, conspiratorial and hostile assemblage. Right, maybe you’re not as clever as you think, triple checking with the boss that the survey really is anonymous. There are likely many people that reviewed your vindictive prose that now think less of you, from a professional standpoint, due to your spiteful rant. While attempting to assassinate someone else’s character, you have just marred your own which is perhaps fair from the big do unto others perspective. Second, you acted shady. No matter how much you feel like you may have been wronged by some situation, you are always responsible for how you respond.

The most likely state of affairs is that you don’t know how to give feedback yet. At some level you know that your assessment is not a totally fair evaluation of the situation and addressing the concern face-to-face would require you to own your part. The survey allowed you to lash out and foolishly believe that there will be no consequences. It’s not a good look for a grown up and, of course, there are consequences for your actions. The most obvious concern being the still unresolved issue that you are attempting to use schoolyard style tattling to solve. Plus, your own reputation has been blemished and sadly you are the only one that doesn’t realize it.

For those that enjoy dabbling in subterfuge…

Imagine for a moment that your annual performance review was completed by an anonymous survey. Everyone in your organization will share his or her opinion about you, secretly. Feeling queasy? The thought of being on the receiving end of the same garbage that you are flinging should be petrifying. Would you take any undisclosed criticism received to heart? I doubt it; instead you would probably spend your time trying to figure out who doesn’t like you and then seek revenge because we have already established that you are perfectly comfortable being an asshole, anonymously. My survey assassin friends, your organization undoubtedly has a non-retaliation policy so you’ll have to scrap the payback scheming and figure out a better way to communicate to truly solve the issues at hand.

Seriously now, giving feedback to colleagues, bosses and vendors in a productive manner is an essential part of a professional skill set. It takes practice to be able to voice your opinions publicly. Learning to respect another perspective and providing meaningful and constructive feedback requires fortitude and nobody gets it right 100% of the time. Find your mettle by speaking your truth directly because waiting with daggers for the annual survey isn’t solving anything.

Ready to put down the weapons?

Ask yourself this question, what kind of attention do I think I’m missing from my organization or from my supervisor? Many hurt feelings come from this place and getting to the root of the elaborate story you have imagined could provide insight to a new path out of your quagmire. Don’t focus on any behavior but your own, which is the first step. The next step is mustering up the courage to have an authentic conversation. For your own sake, please learn how to express disappointment and allow for an opportunity for a misunderstanding to be cleared.

Even if nothing changes, addressing the issue directly will likely alleviate your need for a clandestine spew in a survey. Your organization isn’t perfect and you will continue to give constructive feedback but no more hiding and covert character besmirching will be necessary. Welcome to the grown ups’ table.

Post Statement: If you are a manager with an assassin on your team, then please don’t forward this article to the suspect with a subject line of, “I thought you might find this interesting”. Instead, dig deep to access the empathy necessary to discover a gentle way of assisting the backbiter with communication skills and in the meantime focus on the constructive feedback received from the rest of your team. This is your character test.

Ginger Vanilla Ice-Scheming Sandwiches

Recipe adapted from Ice Cream Sandwich Recipe in Great Gingerbread by Sara Perry.

Preheat to 350 degrees, grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

Ice-Scheming Sandwiches

Mix until light and creamy:

½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar + 1/3 cup brown sugar

Then add:

¼ cup molasses (black strap is my favorite, but any will work)

1 large egg


2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1-½ teaspoons of ground ginger

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Sugar for rolling

Beat dry ingredients into wet. Roll into 1-inch to 1.5-inch balls, depending upon the size sandwich you prefer. Just make sure they are the same size or your sandwiches will look awkward. Roll balls in sugar (2x) and place on baking sheet and press cookie down to a disk with the bottom of a drinking glass. The thickness is based upon your preference so think about the ice cream-to-cookie ratio that suits your audience.

Bake about 12 minutes or less if you selected the smaller size. Freeze until ready to make sandwiches.

Make your favorite ice cream or buy multiple flavors. Some of my favorite pairings include: French Vanilla, Eggnog or Salted Caramel

Disclaimer: The story and recipe above should not be considered advice as the readers and users of Chocolate Cake Mondays are not clients and therefore CCM is not liable for reader’s reliance on the information herein.