What every manager can learn from anonymous app, Secret

by Jason Evanish, CEO Get Lighthouse, Inc.

As a manager, you're often playing a guessing game. You're asking yourself questions like: What are my people really thinking? Why did they just do what they did? Do they really understand what I meant to convey? It can all feel like a big secret to you.

What if you could see the secret thoughts of your team? You could learn a lot. You might even become a better manager.

Lucky for us, we live in a world now that has Secret. Secret is an app where people can anonymously share what's on their mind. Sometimes it's simple daydreamed thoughts, other times it can be lewd or crude (and very NSFW), but other times it's a peek into the minds of being a modern employee.

What Managers Can Learn from Secret

You can learn a lot from the unfiltered thoughts of others. Here's a few lessons for us managers and a peek into those thoughts.

(Warning: Clicking the images will take you to those secrets and all their comments, which may include foul language, offensive comments, and trolling.)

Lesson #1: Employees talk...more than you think

Don't underestimate how much people will value the right to tell others what it was like at your company

Manager Secret: Employees refusing severance will say bad things about your company

Word will spread fast if your culture is toxic

Manager Secret: Bad culture makes it hard to recruit

Silver Lining: They'll talk if they're really happy, too

Manager Secret: People talk if they love their jobs

Just like happy customers refer people and bad customers hurt sales, your employees represent you to the outside world. What would your team say about you?

Lesson #2:  Praise really makes people feel good!

Don't assume people hear it enough.

A lack of praise is felt deeply

Manager Secret: People notice when you don't notice their hard work

Some great people doubt their abilities.

You can change that.

Manager Secret: Good people don't always feel they're good. Remind them.

Give honest praise.

You might just make someone's year

Manager Secret: Praise from a CTO can make their year

Praise your team more so they know they're appreciated for their hard work and skills. And if you want to give more good praise to your team, take the time to learn how to give effective praise.

Lesson #3: Doing the right things as a manager feels great for you and them

Do you believe in your team?

There are few things more powerful.

Manager Secret: Helping someone believe in themselves is a powerful thing

One-on-ones can be scary and a little awkward at first, but they have a huge impact

Manager Secret: one-on-one was scary but exciting

The single best thing you can do as a manager is have great one-on-ones: talk about what's bothering them, give them good feedback and praise, and help them grow.  If you're looking for help with all that, give Lighthouse a try.


What you don't see may still be happening. Before there was Secret, there were conversations at the bar, rumors amongst loose ties, and tech gossip. If you don't want to be the next bad Secret, consider what you can do to be a better manager.

Jason Evanish

Jason Evanish

As the founder and CEO of Get Lighthouse, Inc, Jason and the Lighthouse team have helped managers grow their leadership skills in dozens of countries around the world. They’ve worked with a variety of companies from non-profits to high growth startups, and government organizations to well known, publicly traded companies. Jason has also been featured in publications including NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company.

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