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Table of Contents

What is the objective of peer reviews in the workplace?

How does a workplace peer review work?

How can feedback from peers help in the performance review process?

Why do peer reviews benefit the entire organization?

Disadvantages of peer reviews

How can you implement peer reviews in remote work settings?

Automate peer reviews with Deel Engage

What is a peer review?

An employee peer review is a process in which employees evaluate each other’s performance, contributions, or work quality. This method facilitates constructive feedback, promotes accountability, and enhances team performance.

What is the objective of peer reviews in the workplace?

The primary purpose of peer review in the workplace is to foster a culture of continuous improvement and mutual accountability. By evaluating each other’s work, employees can identify strengths and areas for development, leading to enhanced performance and productivity. Peer reviews encourage collaboration and open communication, creating a more cohesive and effective team environment.

How does a workplace peer review work?

In a workplace peer review, colleagues assess each other’s performance periodically to ensure they meet objectives and each person is aware of areas needing improvement.

Peers can rate various factors of employee performance:

  • Overall contribution to the team
  • Project deliverables
  • Leadership skills
  • Problem-solving ability
  • Communication style
  • Collaboration and trust

Typically, this process includes:

  • Questionnaires: Structured forms peers fill out to provide feedback
  • Rating scales: Numerical or qualitative ratings on specific competencies and behaviors
  • Written feedback: Comments on strengths, areas for improvement, and specific examples of performance
  • Review meetings: Sometimes, peers discuss feedback in person or through mediated sessions

An employee peer review can be part of a broader 360-degree feedback system. This review process gathers feedback from multiple sources to provide a broad overview of the employee’s performance.

Complimentary resource: The complete guide to creating a 360-degree feedback system.

How is a peer review process structured? 

A typical peer review process involves several key steps:

  • Selection of reviewers: Managers or employees themselves select the peers—they should have relevant knowledge or interaction with the reviewee 
  • Review criteria: Peers have access to clear criteria and standards to guide the review process
  • Evaluation: Peers assess the work based on the established criteria and provide feedback
  • Feedback compilation: A manager or HR professional collects and organizes the feedback from all peers
  • Follow-up: The reviewee receives the feedback and may have a follow-up meeting to draft a plan to act upon the feedback

What are some best practices for conducting a peer review?

Some general guidelines for conducting peer reviews include:

  • Setting clear objectives and expectations for the review process
  • Clearly communicating chosen anonymity settings (can the reviewees see who said what?)
  • Providing training for employees on how to give and receive constructive feedback
  • Using structured review forms and criteria to maintain consistency
  • Encouraging a culture of continuous improvement and open communication
  • Regularly reviewing and refining the peer review process based on feedback and outcomes

Additional resource: Learn how to conduct a peer review in the workplace with actionable suggestions and tips on overcoming common challenges.

How can feedback from peers help in the performance review process?

Incorporating peer feedback into the employee performance review process ensures evaluations are multifaceted and grounded in the actual dynamics of day-to-day work, enhancing the accuracy and usefulness of performance assessments.

Increase transparency

Instead of relying solely on subjective feedback from a single manager, peer reviews provide a more holistic view of employee performance. They offer honest assessments from colleagues who work alongside the reviewee daily. As a result, employee peer reviews foster an environment of accountability, with everyone striving for success together.

Obtain more qualitative insights about any reviewee 

Peers who work on the same projects or teams understand tasks, goals, and duties better than a manager might. Incorporating their feedback into reviews allows supervisors to gain unique insights into team dynamics and overlooked behaviors, resulting in more holistic, accurate, and meaningful performance reviews.

Discover hidden talent 

Allowing employees to provide critical feedback can unlock hidden knowledge about potential talent that might go unnoticed. This practice enables everyone to shine through peer collaboration rather than relying solely on top-down appraisals. 

Why do peer reviews benefit the entire organization?

Peer reviews are crucial in enhancing an organization’s overall performance and development. By involving peers in the evaluation process, companies can comprehensively understand individual and team dynamics, ultimately driving success at all levels. Here’s how peer reviews benefit the entire organization:

Improved team performance

Peer reviews significantly boost team performance by:

  • Enhancing individual accountability and motivation: When employees know their peers are involved in the review process, they are more likely to take ownership of their tasks and strive for excellence
  • Promoting transparency and trust: Regular feedback from peers fosters a culture of openness, making team members more trusting and supportive of one another
  • Identifying and leveraging individual strengths: Peers can often spot strengths that may go unnoticed by managers, allowing the team to make the most of each member’s unique abilities
  • Encouraging professional growth through constructive feedback: Constructive criticism from peers helps individuals recognize areas for improvement and take actionable steps toward growth
  • Facilitating better understanding and collaboration: By sharing insights and feedback, team members better understand each other’s roles and challenges, leading to enhanced collaboration
  • Identifying training needs and areas for improvement: Peer reviews can highlight specific skills gaps and training needs, enabling targeted professional development initiatives

Additional resource: Performance Improvement Plan Template (Word)

Support employee development 

Peer reviews positively impact employee development by:

  • Providing diverse perspectives: Feedback from various colleagues offers a well-rounded view of an employee’s performance and growth areas
  • Encouraging self-reflection and accountability: Knowing peers are providing feedback encourages employees to self-reflect and hold themselves accountable for their performance
  • Identifying specific skills and competencies needing improvement: Peer insights can pinpoint particular skills and competencies needing enhancement, guiding focused development efforts
  • Offering opportunities for peer learning and knowledge sharing: Peer reviews create opportunities for employees to learn from each other, share knowledge, and develop new skills collaboratively
  • Motivating employees to set and achieve personal development goals: Constructive peer feedback can inspire employees to set and achieve personal development goals, fostering a culture of continuous improvement
  • Enhancing overall employee engagement and commitment to professional growth: When employees see their peers value their contributions, it increases their engagement and commitment to professional growth

Free resources

Encourage collaboration

Peer feedback also promotes collaboration by:

  • Learning from each other: Peer feedback gives employees a chance to learn from each other and draw on the collective experience of the whole team—as a result, they become empowered to gain insights from unique perspectives
  • Sharing ideas and brainstorming solutions: Peer feedback’s collaborative nature encourages the exchange of ideas and joint problem-solving, leading to innovative solutions

Enable an open feedback culture

The first step to establishing an open feedback culture is to provide employees with proper guidance so everyone feels comfortable providing direct but constructive criticism. The goal is to ensure feedback conversations remain respectful while still aiming to improve the team’s overall performance.

Offering anonymous feedback options encourages people to voice their thoughts more honestly without fear of retribution.

Disadvantages of peer reviews

While peer reviews can provide valuable insights from individuals who directly observe an employee’s work habits and office presence, this approach has several potential drawbacks. 

Peer reviews are most effective when reviewers are unbiased and objective. However, various challenges can arise, potentially undermining the process’s effectiveness. Key disadvantages include time consumption, personal bias, and difficulty comparing results. 

Organizations can optimize their peer review systems by understanding and addressing these challenges to ensure fair and constructive evaluations.

Time-consuming 

The peer review process can be quite time-consuming, requiring multiple people to provide feedback, which can add to and detract from other duties. 

Address this challenge by limiting how many peers one employee can rate. 

For example, a sales team of 10 should not require individuals to review the performance of 9 other teammates. A limit of three employees per peer would ensure a manageable workload per reviewer. 

Potential for personal bias

Due to the subjective nature of employee appraisals, there is the risk of groupthink taking over evaluations or bias resulting from personal relationships among peers on any team.

For example, an employee may give overly positive feedback to a colleague they are friends with outside of work. In contrast, another employee might rate someone more harshly due to a past disagreement, thus skewing the appraisal results.

Address this challenge by:

  • Providing training on objective evaluation and constructive feedback
  • Creating supportive how-to guides reviewers can consult during the appraisal process
  • Using standardized review forms and criteria to ensure consistency
  • Regularly rotating reviewers to provide varied perspectives
  • Encouraging a culture that values diverse viewpoints and constructive criticism

Difficult to compare results

It can be challenging to compare the results of different peers because everyone has opinions on what constitutes a successful performance or skillset.

For example, one peer in a customer service team might prioritize problem-solving skills while another might focus on communication style. These divergences of opinion can make it challenging for management to assess overall performance and fairly compare employees.

Address this challenge by creating performance standards for all organizational roles and levels. For competency-based appraisals, ensure reviewers can easily access all role-based competency models.

Additional resources:

How can you implement peer reviews in remote work settings?

Implementing peer review in remote work settings involves:

  • Using digital tools and platforms—e.g., Slack and Microsoft Teams for communication and specialized performance management software like Deel Engage for conducting the reviews
  • Scheduling regular virtual meetings to discuss feedback and progress
  • Sharing clear guidelines and expectations for the review process 
  • Encouraging a culture of openness and trust to facilitate honest feedback
  • Using video conferencing for more personal and detailed feedback-sharing sessions at the end of the cycle

Additional resources

Automate peer reviews with Deel Engage

Set up a fully customizable peer review process with Deel Engage to support a feedback culture in your company. We offer software that automates:

  • Custom review processes with upward, downward, and peer feedback
  • Custom feedback cycles based on custom criteria (hire date, belonging to specific departments or groups)
  • Competency-based evaluations
  • Anonymous feedback
  • Feedback analyses—understand strengths and weaknesses at individual, team, department, and company levels
  • Tracking and documenting feedback over time

Book a demo to learn how Deel Engage can help with your specific workplace needs.

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