Some surveys (like 360s or those that measure employee engagement) are conducted in confidence, meaning that you only share group level data, and not individual responses, with others.  Other surveys, such as those given to customers or asking group members for suggestions may not be.  Under the latter condition, what level of confidentiality do you owe the participants?

First and foremost, you want to make the level of confidentiality very clear before giving the survey.  In some cases, people are asked to give up any confidentiality (please give us your name if you’d like to be contacted).  In others, the lack of confidentiality is explicitly given up (in which projects would you like to be involved?).  Additionally, let people know how the data is going to be used before asking them to give up their confidentiality.

However, even when confidence is given up, there are other factors to be considered before you would share results by name with others in the organization.  Are the person’s responses to the survey offensive or mean-spirited?  Does it appear that the person thought that the comments would be made in confidence?

Remember, confidence implies trust.  Use your judgment when protecting it.

For more information on 360 feedback, employee engagement, and talent management, please contact Warren at 310 670-4175 or