Do Peer Reviews Decide the Future of Performance Evaluations?

by Jody Ordioni

Do Peer Reviews Decide the Future of Performance Evaluations?

Due to remote work, a significant gap has been exposed in the traditional performance review systems. The growing trend of peer reviews is sure to displace the traditional methods in the long run. Peer reviews are a system where smaller organizational units are responsible for evaluating the performance of individual employees. Here are some key questions you should ask, before switching over:

Who Give Feedback?

The first step to consider is to move away from focusing on the individual to focusing on the team. Generally, in peer reviews, where team members evaluate the performances of coworkers, the functioning of the team is kept in mind. This can be a model to reform peer review practices, making them accessible to more people at once.

Another method is to collate the feedback from the individual network an employee collaborates most frequently with. Reviews from all colleagues- junior and senior- have equal importance and provide a wholesome overview of their performance for regular check-ins.

Is the Feedback Anonymous?

In an ideal environment, feedback channels are transparent and open. However, the culture of your company might not be conducive to transparent peer reviews and it might lead to unnecessary conflicts among employees. In that case, you should devise methods that would allow peers to anonymously provide reviews. There is no single approach to anonymity and each company has to understand whether frank conversations are possible within colleagues or not. The primary goal of peer reviews is to provide honest feedback that helps everyone improve.

Is Spontaneity Desirable in Reviews?

When moving away from an established system of reviews, especially one that democratizes the process, it is necessary to take their pace and volume into consideration. The pool providing the reviews should be large and similar for each employee for feedback to be useful. If only the inner circle is providing the review for any employee, it won't lead to any fruitful conclusions. Another point to keep in mind is the pace of the reviews. Even if reviews are conducted by peers, there should be a structure that decides whether they are done on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.

Is All Feedback Equal?

If the power hierarchy within the team is horizontal, then all feedback holds the same weight. Self-administering teams using the peer review system should not discriminate against the source of reviews. They all are equally important. This approach takes into consideration the opinion of the crowd, rather than relying on a single source. The aggregate of the total reviews provided points out the areas that need improvement and help to reform the approach of the employees. Thus, based on various studies, this approach follows the principle that the aggregate of multiple judgments is more reliable than a singular opinion.

Which Categories to Consider for Feedbacks?

Though the method of performance reviews is undergoing a drastic change, the parameters have remained the same, more or less. The behavior of the employees should align with the culture and values of the company and traditional models are still useful for measuring their performance. Moreover, it is not necessary for reviewers to follow all the parameters when generating a review. They should focus only on the relevant ones during the period of consideration when reviewing their peers.

Should Reviews Be Simple?

Under the peer-review system, one should always keep in mind the sheer volume of reviews that are incoming. Thus, to ensure that the reviews are actually useful, they should not be complicated. Those who are studying the feedbacks should not be expected to spend more than a couple of minutes on each piece. Traditional performance reviews take hours to complete, which is not feasible in a peer-review set-up. Thus, this alternative system should be built in a manner that allows reviewers to evaluate against set parameters in a quick fashion, similar to a like-dislike binary witnessed on social media.

The Bottom Line

Leaders and managers have to drive performance review systems in a new direction, going into 2021 and beyond. Build experimental units that utilize the alternative methods and continuously evaluate whether they are yielding the desired results. If the system works for your company, then switch over to keep pace with the growing trends in the marketplace.

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