Tell your Bishop anything anonymously

Tell Your Bishop Anything, Anonymously

Shares is a free service of Happiily, a company that specializes in software that helps companies and manager provide a safe, anonymous way for employees to provide feedback and thoughts on their work, work environment, boss, etc. Essentially they act as a buffer. If a company were to internally provide a solution that let their employees login to submit feedback “anonymously,” employees wouldn’t trust it, and bosses or “higher ups” might be tempted to look and see who said what.

Happiily solves that by being the middle-man or buffer. They guarantee the privacy of the employees, and provide helpful tools including employee-made polls, etc.

To promote their service, they provide Tell Your Boss Anything as a free service. All you have to do is setup an account and send whatever message you would like to your boss. Your boss is then encouraged to sign up for a free account as well. After a certain volume, your boss will be encouraged to upgrade to a paid plan to continue.

Our local Church leaders, being human (as are all our earthly leaders), make mistakes, miss important things, or are purposely excluded by other people for various reasons. All these things lead to them make mistakes, not fully understand a situation or how a certain person feels. Most of the time, it’s no problem to just pull them aside or schedule an interview. However, sometimes the nature of the situation makes it difficult, or would make your life difficult, if you were to do so. Yet you feel like you must do the right thing.

Now you can Tell Your Bishop Anything (or Stake President, or Relief Society President, or other local leader) anonymously, and privately. All you need is their email address. If they choose not to sign-up to view your message, you’re given an opportunity to input the email address of their “superior” to escalate it to that person.

What do you think? Is it a useful tool for your local ward, branch, or stake?

  1. It’s a good thing for a church leader to “be in the know’ but it could open up a world of inappropriate or abusive statements if the writer knows (s)he cannot be identified. Case in point: Just look around at some of the anonymous comments left on YouTube or newspaper articles or some blogs. Some of them are very nasty.

    1. I’ll respond to Joe’s comment and hopefully address Jace & Russ’ concerns as well. Before writing this article, I actually consulted a currently serving Bishop, because I had the same concerns as yours. He was very supportive and expressed concern for many members of his ward who were less social and/or willing to take his time so that he could get to know them and their situation better. He felt this could be very good for him. It was only after that conversation that I moved forward with this article.

      Along with that, one of the nice things about Tell Your Boss Anything, is it’s not merely an anonymous messaging app. There are plenty of those if somebody wants to send their Bishop hate mail. Tell Your Boss Anything is moderated by real people and they won’t approve messages that are hateful or nonconstructive. So, it could actually be something many Bishops would welcome. Bro or Sis Grumblesalot can get on there and try to send an ugly message pointing out everything their leader does wrong, and TYBA will just send them back a message saying something about their message not being constructive, and was therefore denied. It gives them feedback from an anonymous 3rd party to help them recognize they’re going too far.

  2. I was going to leave a comment similar to Joe’s. Whenever I read about bad experiences with a church leader, I want both sides to the story. Obviously in some very bad cases, a church leader is to blame, but it seems like a majority are like “I am so sweet and innocent and my church leader was so mean to me” – kind of like a beam/mote in the eye situation.

  3. As a currently serving bishop, I would never agree to participate in such a thing. It’s hard enough dealing with the issues and concerns that come up when you know from whom they are coming. It’s easy for people to be critical of how things are being run until you’ve had to run it yourself. I find that former bishops and other leaders generally tend to be supportive of anything I do because they’ve been there and experienced the difficulties of getting things done as best as they can. This isn’t a work environment where anyone’s job is at risk if they don’t get the support and systemic structures in place that they need to perform well, or where they suffer from the kinds of work-place harassment, etc. that can make it difficult to work. We’re about the Lord’s business, and should be open and honest with each other, and Christlike in our interactions with each other, whether we’re leading or following.

  4. I am a current bishop and I think this is a positive option. I totally understand where all the previous comments are coming from. Being a leader is synonymous with being criticized. There will always be those outliers that think annonmynity means you can be rude. This TYBA system has a solution to filter those out and I doubt very many people would use it as such.

    More dialogue is always better than less dialogue. As a leader it is important to have a pulse on what the overall concerns are among those you lead. This doesn’t mean you have to adjust your actions because you are doing something unpopular, but it at least lets you know how other feel so you can help further explain your vision to them and gain their support. Without giving people the opportunity to share their feelings then they begin to fill in the blanks themselves and paint you in their mind as something worse and give you less and less support. It’s not that most people disagree with your actions–rather most people don’t understand your actions.

    If you don’t find more and more opportunity for people to share their thoughts then those concerns will be heard by others and then the negativity grows because you never gave them an opportunity to share their feelings with the appropriate leaders. You can act like it isn’t there but it will manifest itself down the road and then it is very hard to suppress.

    Many individuals want to share but are simply terrified to set an appointment or give the bishop a call. By allowing them to tell you something anonymously it gets the concern to your ears rather than to someone else’s.

  5. I don’t think this is a good idea. 1. if you feel strongly enough about something that you feel the need to tell the Bishop there is no reason to hide your identity. IMO that sounds very much like a secret combination you are creating.
    2. The Bishop isn’t a ward babysitter. it isn’t the Bishop’s responsibility to deal with gossip or hear say. Which goes back to number one.

    Yes they are human and make mistakes, but a large part of the gospel is accountability. No it isn’t easy sometimes to go to the bishop, but if it is serious enough that you feel you need to, it is your responsibility to take that step. Fear and anxiety, although understandable, are not valid reasons to procrastinate repentance or resolve an important issue. Some things aren’t meant to be easy.

    1. Jesse, I respect the fact you are approaching such a thing with caution but to reference it as a “secret combination you are creating” is a bit much. There is no kool-aid drinking in this process.

      Also, using a third party service is completely OK. If we were avoiding all third party services bishop would have to tell member they can’t email them since it is through a third party service. Even cell phones fall into that category.

      Of course the bishop isn’t a babysitter, but as a leader it is his responsibility to respond to the culture of the ward and make sure information being said is going through the right channels so the right people can lend help in the ways the handbook direct. Offer an option like this to protect identity is helpful for those that wouldn’t say anything at all.

      Obviously a bishop can do all this without the TYBA service but to classify it as a negative resource is something I don’t agree with.

  6. Also the fact there’s a third party is EXTREMELY not ok. If you don’t Ferrell comfortable talking to your bishop alone, get another person or priesthood leader. Again the Bishop isn’t a ward babysitter. you don’t know who might have already talked to him and may be repenting or he may bree talking care of. You are putting him in a situation that is unfair. If he responds he risks confidentiality breach, if he doesn’t you feel you’ve been ignored

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