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The Importance of Peer-to-Peer Feedback
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Talent Management

The Importance of Peer-to-Peer Feedback

One Minute Takeaway

  • Peer-to-peer feedback is a proven way to improve the performance review process.
  • Feedback from peers provides an opportunity for teammates with different perspectives to offer unbiased feedback.
  • Adding peer-to-peer feedback gives employees a better perspective on how to grow at your company.

Peer-to-peer feedback often gets a bad rap. When done incorrectly, it can completely deflate otherwise great workers. But, when done correctly (like other talent development practices) it can contribute to a very healthy workforce. If you are looking to improve your performance review process, you might want to consider adding peer-to-peer feedback.  Why? Well, for starters, it provides an opportunity for someone with a different perspective to provide feedback. Additionally, building team members’ understanding of strengths and weaknesses can help build a culture of understanding and a shared ethos of continuous development.

Managers often see employees in a different light than colleagues who are working with them daily. Managers might not see or hear about things that happen out of their purview. Peer-to-peer feedback offers a chance to include these details to create a more complete picture of the employee’s performance. The move to peer reviews is even more urgent as we emerge from the recent COVID-19 crisis, since employees who have been remote for most of the year have had fewer interactions with managers and each other.

Using peer feedback is also helpful in reducing bias and can also be useful in building employee engagement since you’re asking employees to examine colleagues’ work. This builds a more holistic understanding of the organization and how it operates.

Adding this element to your reviews can give employees a chance to learn from each other in a safe, constructive environment. However, it’s important to note that this feedback should only be used in addition to the traditional managerial review.

Peer-to-peer best practices

It’s helpful to coach employees, many of whom aren’t managers, on ways to provide effective feedback. Employees should have a level of understanding about the feedback they are offering, and direct experience. For example, peer-to-peer feedback should not include hearsay, since these items could be gossip or simply untrue. Employees also should address the problem and not the person in peer feedback, addressing issues in a positive way. Finally, understand that peer-to-peer reviews should point out both positive aspects of the person’s work and areas where they can improve. Managers should consider both when putting together a complete assessment.

Here are a few additional best practices:

Provide a questionnaire or template

Building a structure around your employee feedback program will make it more valuable and actionable.  Give your team some examples of helpful feedback. Without some type of talent management software, it can be difficult to collect this feedback efficiently, so that is likely a first step. You will also need to determine whether peer reviews will be anonymous. Some organizations find it helpful to have anonymous reviews to avoid conflicts or damaged relationships, and most are more comfortable giving feedback if they know it will not be connected to their name. Make sure your talent development system can be set up to collect reviews anonymously.

Remove the pressure

Peer-to-peer feedback should not be linked to compensation, but rather be treated as an informal way to make the team better. This approach eliminates the fear that a negative review from a manager will impact annual salary increases.

You may have some managers raise concerns that the peer review system reduces their role in rating the performance of their people, so it’s important to help them understand how this can enhance their review process by offering a third-party perspective on a direct report. 

Identify key players

Another aspect to consider is who should be asked to provide feedback. A logical place to start is with other team members who have worked with the person on a regular basis. Sometimes employees are asked for suggestions on people to provide a peer review.

Timing for feedback should coincide with the organization’s calendar, with quarterly performance reviews, 1:1s or be done separately. 

Adding peer-to-peer feedback makes your annual review process more sophisticated and offers your people a more focused, equitable way to continue to grow in your organization. Continuing to give your people insights on how they can build their career at your company incentivizes them to stay longer.

How Paycor Helps

If you are looking for a talent development system that can automate some of these tasks for you, consider Paycor’s Talent Development tool, which eliminates the frustration of repetitive administrative tasks related to performance evaluation and talent development. This product helps collect data year-round to help you create a culture of continuous feedback.