Performance management is one of the most important HR processes in modern organizations as it helps in keeping the members of the workforce productive and motivated. There are various factors that contribute to building an effective performance management system. One of these is peer feedback that has tended to be overlooked by organizations in the past or limited only to the senior levels. It can help organizations provide valuable insights to evaluate their employees and drive their performance. In fact, over the past several years, peer data was relevant only for benchmarking employee compensation; now peer feedback has become part of the employee recognition process. Most organizations are now realizing that peer feedback can be one of the valuable inputs for performance management.
What makes peer feedback so important?
It is a well-known fact that employees share a completely different relationship with their peers as compared to their managers. This is mainly due to the fact that employees spend a lot more time working with their peers and hence share a more informal and closer relationship with them. Unlike managers, peers are able to observe and report the most minute details related to the functioning of an employee. Hence, they are more likely to offer a less biased and more honest perspective of the performance and behavior of an employee. In fact, involving peers is the best way to get honest 360-degree feedback about an employee’s working and performance.
Advantages of peer feedback for performance management
When it comes to performance review by managers, their opinions are based solely on end results provided by the employees. Peer feedback has a major advantage because peers are aware of the minute details of the working habits of their co-workers. Key advantages that peer feedback offers in performance management are discussed in brief as follows:
- Increases the accuracy of reviews: The reviews of managers are often considered off the mark as they are based only on their own viewpoint. However, since peer feedback comes from multiple people, it makes it more comprehensive and accurate. Peer feedback combines the views and opinions from various sources to provide a bigger, more holistic picture of an employee’s performance for a more accurate evaluation.
- Enhanced performance improvement: Receiving feedback from their peers proves effective in improving employee performance. This is because peer feedback provides them valuable insights into their strengths and weaknesses in a relatively subtle manner. Most employees show a greater willingness to work harder and ensure a visible improvement in their performance rating simply to maintain the trust of their peers.
- Adds value to recognition: Getting recognized based on peer feedback makes the achievement more valuable for employees. It helps in establishing a sense of trust and creates a positive work culture where the employees feel motivated by the success of their co-workers. It also promotes better coordination and strengthens the sense of belonging within the members of the workforce.
- Ensures greater transparency in reviews: Unlike the feedback of managers, peer feedback might not be tied to the compensation of an employee, but actual feedback for the development of the employee. Thus it introduces greater clarity and transparency in the overall employee review process. This, in turn, creates a sense of comfort between the co-workers in the entire process and the employee is more receptive towards peer feedback rather than being defensive.
Useful tips for seeking peer feedback
Having understood the significance and benefits of peer feedback, it is equally important to learn about the best ways to seek this feedback effectively. Discussed below are a few tips that can prove quite useful for managers in this context:
- Understanding the context of the feedback: Before seeking peer feedback, managers need to ensure that the employees have a proper understanding of the subject. Peer feedback can prove effective for performance appraisal only if the person providing the same has comprehensive knowledge about the working of the employee in question.
- Impact of feedback on workforce performance: While seeking peer feedback, it is important for managers to access the impact of this feedback on workforce performance. It is essential for managers to assure the employees that their feedback does not necessarily need to be corrective. Rather it can be based on any behavior aspects that are likely to improve the overall performance of the employee or even simplify work processes.
- Ensure appropriate and timely follow up: Seeking feedback and not following it up in a timely and appropriate manner can make the whole process ineffective. It will also result in the employees losing interest in the process and their trust in the management. That is why managers need to make sure that every time they seek peer feedback, they should the right action to receive it.
Even though peer feedback plays a critical role in ensuring effective performance management, it does not necessarily have to be focused solely on deciding employee compensation. If managed properly, it can result in improved employee performance, better goal setting, more accurate training gap identification and successful career planning for the employees and organization.