The Role of Peer Reviews in Performance Evaluations

Organizations use performance evaluation as a strategy to bolster employee performance and improve their productivity. They also are always looking for newer, effective ways to collect employee feedback. This is where the role of peer reviews comes into the picture. Per Gartner research, peer feedback can boost employee performance by up to 14%.

Common Peer Review Approaches in Organization

Here’s a quick list of common peer review approaches followed by organizations:

  • Peer-to-peer review: Peers are requested to provide feedback about a specific employee. This approach is simple and informal. Peers are either sent online feedback surveys or invited for one-to-one discussions to provide their feedback. Also, this type of feedback remains anonymous.
  • Team review: In this approach, peers are invited as a group for a performance discussion of a specific employee. They usually sit together and fill out performance surveys, concluding as a team.

Benefits of Peer Reviews in Performance Evaluations

Employee performance evaluation is a time-taking process. Therefore, organizations typically use peer reviews to reduce the workload of managers and team leaders. Not only this but peer reviews also provide other benefits, such as:

Peer Reviews Provide a Closer Look at the Employee Being Evaluated

Irrespective of how well managers and team leaders may be at assessing their teams, peers know each other better than anyone. In the work environment, employees conduct themselves in a certain way in front of their managers and team leaders, and in a completely different way in front of their peers.

Peer Reviews Encourage Employee Recognition

Peer reviews help in gathering feedback for employee performance evaluation as well as help in encouraging a culture of recognition and collaboration by providing direct reports with a platform to provide feedback to their peers.

Peer Reviews Improve the Accuracy of Performance Ratings

Gathering employee feedback from different sources helps managers and team leaders provide accurate ratings. Peer reviews provide managers and team leaders with a comprehensive picture of the performance of an employee to ensure accurate judgments are made. Also, organizations can find potential issues by studying the differences between peer ratings and manager/team leader ratings. For instance, if an employee receives an excellent rating from his/her peers and a low rating from his/her manager, it is a sign of a poor employee-manager relationship.

Peer Reviews Can Help in Team Building

It is a good idea to integrate the peer review process into your team-building framework. Feedback from peers can help in strengthening team bonding and boosting employee performance. In a survey conducted by Zenger/Folkman on 1,000 employees, it was found that 76% of employees were motivated by positive feedback from their peers.

Peer Reviews Can Help in Surfacing Hidden Talent

Peer reviews provide interesting insights into the unique capabilities and skills of employees. They can help organizations identify employees with networking and leadership skills. This is something that is often missed in the traditional employee performance evaluation method. Managers and team leaders can leverage these insights for succession planning, effective team building, and making decisions on new job roles.

Best Practices to Solicit Peer Reviews

Running a comprehensive peer review program can be a daunting task for managers and team leaders. Here are some best practices to ensure your peer review program delivers accurate and reliable data:

Clearly Define Organizational Core Values

Ensure your direct reports measure the performance of their peers on metrics that are aligned to the core values of your organization. In the absence of clearly defined organizational core values, your direct reports may not be able to assess their peers’ performance accurately.

Select the Peers Tactfully

To ensure accurate and reliable feedback, consider putting in place a set of guidelines that will determine which peers are eligible for providing feedback. For example, choose peers who have directly worked with the employee being evaluated.

Allow Flexibility to Peer Reviewers

Even though the purpose of a peer-to-peer feedback program is collecting good-quality feedback, you should provide peers with the flexibility to accept or decline the feedback request at their convenience.