When employees think about performance management and the feedback that comes with it, they think of it in terms of the feedback that their managers give them about their performance. Similarly, they may also think about the 360-degree feedback that they give back to their managers and the organization that they work for. However, one important type of feedback is ‘peer feedback’. This is the feedback that an employee receives from his colleagues or peers.
Feedback serves many purposes for any organization. It is a method through which a company may decide who to promote or who to fire. They may decide on grading their employees on the basis of it. Feedback can also be used to improve a below-par or average performance or motivate a well-performing employee even further. Feedback may be a negative one or a positive one. In the case of negative feedback, it is important to take it in a constructive manner and use it to enhance your performance instead of getting bogged down by it.
In most cases, an annual performance review by a manager is not sufficient. It is only once a year which means you do not get the opportunity to work on your improvement areas until the whole year has gone by. Secondly, once you make changes you do not see the result of it till the next appraisal. This is very infrequent and does not help you in time. Finally, it does not deeply cover the behaviour aspects of feedback. For example, people may find you uncooperative in nature. This attitude will affect you in all areas of your work. However, this is an experience an annual review might not capture. In such a scenario, a review by people who work in parallel with you may be helpful. Peer feedback captures your interpersonal skills, your ability to deal with routine issues and day to day operations in a highly effective manner. Given in time, it gives you the opportunity to work on problem areas at the right time, so you can improve yourself in a timely manner without waiting for the end of the year.
It is important to be open to peer feedback. The problem is that even when you know that it is good for you, you might not be willing to work on it. There can be several reasons why you might behave like that. Firstly, you may feel uncomfortable to put yourself in the line of fire. Since peer feedback is a voluntary thing, many people will simply avoid it for fear of ridicule or their reputation getting tarnished. Nothing can be farther from the truth. With a growth-based attitude, you may realise that feedback is a quick way to find issues to fix and emerge out a successful professional. Your ability to receive feedback can give your career an edge making you less afraid of taking up new projects. It can project you as a go-getter and positive employee in the organization.
The second part of peer feedback is knowing how to give proper feedback to your peers. You should be confident and comfortable in giving feedback to your peers even when it is negative. Mincing words will only make your feedback ineffective. Most companies also allow for giving anonymous feedback through intranet or an app. However, one must remember to use such tools with responsibility. Proper feedback can affect the work culture of an organization positively and bring about the desired changes that you seek.
The best thing about peer feedback is that it can be informal and available whenever you need it. If you have a case of doubt about yourself and need to know how you are perceived among peers, you can go ahead and ask for feedback. The best time to ask for one is right when you finish off a project with someone, then the experience of working with you is fresh in the minds of the people.
It is also important to choose the right colleagues before you ask for feedback. It is easy to go to your friends at work and hear them say positive things about you. However, choosing the people you trust will give the correct feedback is an important part of taking feedback. Experienced and unbiased workers will give you pointers on both negative and positive aspects of you.
Encourage others to give feedback to you and give open-minded and honest feedback to others. With a positive mindset, you will work the peer feedback to your advantage and also help others in utilising this powerful tool to their advantage. A company where open feedback culture is prevalent thrives on it along with the employees who can only grow in such an atmosphere.