Here’s a really interesting question from an HR Bartender reader:
I’m not an HR professional, just so you know.
I’ve been at my current company for 10+ years and during this time, I’ve received 3 peer reviews as part of my evaluation. In turn, I have provided peer reviews. In addition, as a manager, I’ve been privy to many peer reviews written for others.
Initially, the reviewers’ names were not tied to specific comments. Now, reviewers sign their reviews. In either case, the comments have not been useful. I’m wondering why we go through this exercise. In my view, any normally self-aware person is already familiar with the opinion of others and probably values some of these views and discounts others. The peer reviews don’t provide new information. Really, I find the process a kind of painful, repetitive process. Any thoughts? Is this the norm at other companies?
Wow. There’s a lot to tackle in this question. Let me start with this: I don’t believe that everyone is keenly aware of what other people think of them. There are plenty of situations where we have to work with people we don’t like and, in order to get the job done, we put those feelings aside and don’t tell others how we really feel. I’m not making excuses here. It’s just reality.
I do agree that, when we are presented with feedback about ourselves, we value some and discount others. Who delivers the message, when they give the feedback and the way they express their comments are all key elements in how feedback is processed.
It would be interesting to know if the individuals who are being asked to provide peer reviews have ever been trained on how to identify, evaluate and deliver performance feedback. It seems logical that the peer review process is only as good as the information being given. And the peer reviews won’t be very valuable if individuals haven’t been trained to provide good feedback.
Also, I think it would be good to know what happens once the feedback is given. For example, if one of my peers tells me that I need to be more organized, is that the end of it? Or at some point, am I being held accountable for becoming more organized? Now forget for a second that the feedback is coming from a peer. If people are being given useless feedback, then chances are they don’t know where to focus their energy. This is hurting the overall productivity of the company because employees aren’t having good performance dialogue.
While I’ve never worked for a company that did peer reviews, I have worked places that incorporated multi-rater feedback (aka 360 feedback) into their performance review processes. On some level, a multi-rater review provides similar information. An individual receives anonymous feedback from their manager, peers and staff.
So I’m curious about the viability of peer reviews. Anyone out there ever worked for a company that conducted peer reviews? If so, what are the pros/cons? How would you compare a peer review with multi-rater feedback instruments? Leave us your point of view in the comments.
Image courtesy of Doug Hay0