(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by SilkRoad, a global leader in cloud-based talent activation solutions. At this year’s HR Technology Conference, they announced the availability of SilkRoad Agile Performance, a solution designed to help organizations activate employee performance with apps for check-ins, goals and reviews that maximize productivity, engagement and alignment with corporate objectives. Enjoy the post!)
As organizations continue to evaluate their performance management processes, one important consideration needs to be who is involved in the process. Of course, the employee and manager will be included, but you might want to add an employee’s peers as well.
Peer-to-peer feedback can be a welcome and valuable addition to the organization’s performance management process for several reasons:
Employees often have a different relationship with their peers (versus their manager). This isn’t to imply that one relationship is better or worse than another. It’s simply to say it’s different. In some cases, employees spend more time with their peers than their manager. As such, employees might find added value in receiving feedback from their colleagues.
Peer-to-peer feedback isn’t typically tied to compensation. Let’s face it, many organizations still link performance reviews and compensation. So, when our manager gives feedback, there’s this little voice in our head that wonders, “Will that impact my annual pay increase?” Feedback from another peer doesn’t usually factor into performance increases and can be considered in a different spirit.
Employees still want and need good feedback. Limiting feedback to only the employee’s manager could be detrimental to individual employee performance, development, and retention. Young professionals want feedback all the time because they are early in their careers. Typically, organizations only provide feedback training to managers and miss the opportunity for cross-discipline or organization-wide feedback in a variety of contexts. For peer-to-peer feedback to be effective, everyone in the organization should know how to request and provide it.
How to Deliver Effective Peer-to-Peer Feedback
The basis for all good feedback, regardless of who it comes from, is trust. Employees must feel that the feedback they are receiving is intended to make them better. Feedback from an untrustworthy source will be viewed with skepticism and probably be discarded.
Three things to consider when you’re delivering feedback to another employee include:
- What is the employee’s level of knowledge on the subject? In this case, I mean both the giver and the receiver of feedback. Employees should not attempt to give feedback on something they aren’t proficient. For example, “I’ve heard that you’re filling out the TPS report incorrectly. You might want to contact accounting.” That’s not effective feedback. That’s pointing out someone’s mistake. And it is better for someone in accounting to have this conversation. “Hi, I’m Leonard from accounting. I was wondering if we could meet to review the last couple of TPS reports you’ve submitted. I have some suggestions that will help them get processed faster.”
- What’s in it for the employee? Using the last example with the TPS report, a colleague is trying to help the employee get their work processed faster. Ultimately, this will improve the employee’s performance. So, feedback should help performance, not hinder it. Employees should be open to trying new things. Here’s another example of feedback: An employee is doing their report accurately, but one of their colleagues has discovered a way to do it faster. The feedback could be, “Hey there. I just discovered if I use the red stapler program to create my TPS report it takes half the time. You might want to try it. Can I show you how?”
- How will follow-up take place? Whenever feedback is given, there should be follow-up. Even if it’s a casual, “Did you try using the red stapler program to create your TPS report? How did it work for you?” or “Thanks for meeting with me last week about your report. This week’s report looked fantastic.” The employee has taken the feedback seriously, so the person who delivered it needs to as well. This helps the trust relationship and will allow for more effective feedback in the future.
Peer-to-peer feedback doesn’t have to be focused on corrective behavior. It can used be to tell an employee they perform a task exceptionally well. It does need to be focused on performance. And needs to provide specifics. Finally, both the giver and receiver of feedback need to take it seriously and be held accountable for the conversation. It leads to improved performance, better goal setting, and successful career development planning.
If you want to learn how to incorporate peer-to-peer feedback into your company culture, join me and the SilkRoad team on Wednesday, November 9 for a discussion about “Creating a Real-Time Performance Feedback Culture.” We’ll be sharing strategies for making both manager and peer feedback more effective and how it can have a positive impact on your current performance management process. Hope to see you there!
Oh, and P.S. If you can’t make it on Wednesday, you can still sign up to receive the recording. The webinar has been pre-approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit.