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News - 04.10.2022

Posted by adam.mcelligott

News - 04.10.2022

The 6 Questions You Should Be Asking About Peer-to-Peer Feedback

The 6 questions you should be asking about peer-to-peer feedback

The idea of creating a peer-to-peer feedback culture feels more appropriate since the pandemic started as many employees are still working remotely and without the same level of daily interactions with managers that there was pre-covid. A peer-to-peer feedback system provides the employee with a larger amount of feedback and reduces the emphasis on receiving feedback from the employee’s manager alone (e.g. over 30% of feedback provided on the Our Tandem platform is peer-to-peer).

Whether your company is considering a team-based structure or not, we believe there are ways to reinvent performance management and make it more valuable and less boss-centric. However, to implement such a model, managers need to consider six key questions:

Who is providing the feedback?

The logical place to start is with other members of the team. In agile practices, teams meet to review their work in retrospective meetings and offer feedback to each other. In those settings, the team, rather than the individual, is generally the focus, but it is an important template for how performance analysis and development can be shared across more people. Another source is an employee’s individual network in the company, especially those they collaborate with frequently. Feedback provided can be analysed by the manager and discussed in regular check-in meetings as well as in a performance summary and discussed with the employee at the end of the year for career development and compensation decisions.

Is the feedback anonymous?

Feedback should be delivered in an open, direct, and transparent way. But what if the company culture is not mature enough to sustain an open system when feedback can come from any peer? In such cultures, people fear creating conflict or damaging relationships by delivering negative feedback. If this is true, such a system won’t be effective or help people develop. There is no one-size-fits-all answer on anonymity. If the company culture is not ready for an open exchange of feedback among peers, it is probably better to go for an anonymous system.

Is the feedback spontaneous or prompted?

Timing is important when delivering feedback. But there are some rules of thumb when moving away from the manager-centric performance review process.

First, consider cadence. Requests for feedback should come at a specific cadence tailored to how an organization works (that could be a sprint or quarterly).

Then consider volume. Moving to peer-to-peer feedback system requires managing a large volume of feedback on a single person; but that feedback needs to come from a wide range of colleagues and not from a focused, inner circle. A prompted system puts guardrails in place to ensure that managers get large and similar volumes of feedback for each employee.

Does all feedback carry the same value?

In a team-based organisation where teams are self-administering and there is a flat hierarchy, logically all feedback would be equal.  It wouldn’t matter if the feedback came from the line manager, peers, or the CEO if there is consistent negative feedback on one aspect of performance or behaviour, such feedback will most likely reflect the sentiment of the overall company. This reflects a belief that the “wisdom of the crowd” is more accurate than the judgement of an individual, as demonstrated by several psychological and social studies.

Feedback on which categories?

The feedback categories don’t require a significant departure from traditional models. Usually some are on performance, while others focus on behaviours that reflect the company’s aspired-to goals, culture, and values.

At Praxis Precision Medicine, they use three categories for performance (the “What”) and four categories for values and behaviours (the “How”). Feedback providers don’t need to offer input on all categories, only on the ones observed directly during the period.

Can you keep it simple?

Since truly social feedback generates a large number of pieces of feedback on any single team member, the feedback itself needs to be simple and quick. It should take no more than a few minutes. In some companies, every single team member is requested to provide 3-4 pieces of feedback every few weeks, at the end of a project Sprint.

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Are you looking to develop a simpler way for your employees to request and give feedback to their peers? If so, book a demo of the Our Tandem platform and one of our performance management experts will answer any questions you may have on your HR strategy.

 

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