Peer performance reviews are when those who work most closely with you on day-to-day tasks review your performance (rather than managers who have more of a high-level, bird’s-eye view). There’s been a lot of debate over whether peer reviews are more beneficial than the traditional boss review. If you’re wondering which would be best for your company, we offer a look at the pros and cons.
How to implement peer reviews
Before we get into the pros and cons, let’s discuss how to actually implement peer reviews in your company. Peer reviews don’t have to take any more than a few minutes. Keeping it fast and simple is key. In some companies, each team member is asked to provide three to four pieces of feedback to their peers every few weeks.
One way to keep this realistic is to assign each team member a 15-minute time block every month to review one or two people they work with most often. Some businesses choose to keep reviews anonymous to make candid feedback easier. Others believe anonymous feedback hinders a transparent and safe working environment. All in all, it depends on your team’s understanding that these reviews are meant to benefit everyone involved.
Now, let’s dive into the pros and cons.
Pro: Peer reviews provide a closer perspective
Coworkers who partner up on projects and interact on a daily basis will likely have the closest perspective of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Peer performance reviews can work well for providing feedback that’s more detailed. To ensure your team gives one another the most helpful feedback, identify categories for them to focus on. Category ideas include:
- Communication: How well does this person communicate when they have questions or issues? Do they let the rest of the team know when something unexpected happens?
- Accountability: How well does this person hold themself accountable for mistakes? Do they handle their responsibilities in a dependable way?
- Cooperation: How well does this person cooperate/work well with their team? Are they reliable? Do they implement feedback?
Con: Peer reviews can be more easily biased
Skewed positive and negative feedback can sometimes occur with peer reviews because of friendships (or lack thereof), whereas a manager—who is often more personally distant from the person they’re reviewing—is likely unbiased. If opinions are reported without an abundance of facts, employee morale can suffer—not to mention performance expectations won’t be clear. Help mitigate this problem by making sure each reviewer is properly trained. Encourage them to always keep in mind that the goal of performance reviews is to develop the person being reviewed.
Pro: Peer reviews help build relationships
If colleagues are properly trained on how to give honest, constructive feedback, peer reviews can be a great way to build stronger teams. By being open with coworkers about areas they excel in—as well as those they can improve on—teams thrive. People are less likely to feel frustrated with each other and are more likely to address issues that may be hindering success.
Understanding each other’s blind spots helps people see where the other is coming from and why they may struggle in a certain area of work. On the flip side, recognizing improvement is crucial to relationship-building. When a colleague notices a coworker improving post review, encourage them to send an employee prize. Employee prizes can be anything from an acrylic paperweight they can proudly display to a delicious chocolate bar or gourmet cookies in a tin.
Con: Peer reviews can create confusion
Being reviewed by peers means that one person will no longer be evaluating someone’s performance. While the goal is to create more balanced, accurate feedback, the downside is that multiple reviewers can cause confusion. People may get clashing feedback. After all, one colleague may give their coworker a couple examples of where they need to improve in communicating—while another colleague may praise that same person for their prompt communication. To help eliminate confusion, encourage the person being reviewed to jot down questions about inconsistencies they notice. Give them a stylus pen and notepad to do so.
Decide what’s perfect for your team
By carefully evaluating the pros and cons of peer performance reviews, you’ll be able to make the best decision for your team.