Peer Feedback In Workplace: Definition | Types | Importance

Peer feedback in the workplace is an effective method for growth and development that, when implemented properly, can benefit both individual employees and the company overall. While the idea of providing and receiving feedback from coworkers may seem daunting or uncomfortable to some, research has consistently shown that peer feedback fosters improved communication, cultivates interpersonal skills, and drives better performance when incorporated into an organization’s culture regularly.

Done right, peer feedback leads to a more collaborative and supportive work environment where employees feel empowered to provide meaningful input to help one another strengthen weaknesses and enhance strengths. In this post, we will explore the definition of peer feedback, identify its different types, and discuss its importance for both employees and employers seeking to nurture an inclusive, learning-oriented culture.

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A Guide To Share Effective Peer Feedback

According to a recent report by  SHRM/Globoforce, 89% of HR leaders agree that Peer Feedback is the key to employee success.

We cannot stress it enough that feedback is one of the most crucial factors when it comes to employee development. Feedback helps improve engagement, decreases turnover, and helps in professional development. Moreover, it is also known to increase job satisfaction and morale of the employee.

While most of us are familiar with the concept of manager-employee feedback or vice-versa, but might not be familiar with the idea of peer feedback. Peer feedback is a process in which an employee’s coworker or colleague shares feedback about the employee. To make peer feedback helpful and effective for everyone, here are a few tips to get you started.

Be Prepared

Feedback, whether from a manager or a peer, is crucial for employee development and improves employee engagement and retention. So in peer feedback, before you speak with your colleague or peer, it is important to go in prepared.

Preparing ahead will keep you focused and will help you to carry on the meeting smoothly. You will have a clear idea of what to speak about with your colleague and what not to. While preparing for the process, identify the goal of the meeting and how you can help achieve it.

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Focus On The Problem

While sharing peer feedback, focus on the behaviors that are a problem instead of emphasizing their character. Identify and highlight to them behaviours or skills which you think would help them grow in life and would help them succeed in the organization. Help them with actionable solutions to their problem. It is a much better approach to share feedback as they would be open to accepting feedback that is about their work and not about them. For example, instead of saying, “Emmanuel, your arrogance is causing a problem,” try saying “Emmanuel, when you interrupt me in front of a client, it causes a problem.”

Avoid Feedback ‘Sandwich’

The feedback sandwich is the art of sandwiching criticism or constructive feedback with compliments. It reduces the overwhelming effect of constructive criticism or negative feedback on your peer. But in doing so, your coworker tends to ignore the criticism and gives importance only to the positive praises and compliments. It gives them a false impression that they are doing good and that they do not need any improvement in their skills, actions, or behaviour. Moreover, it often leaves the employees confused.

Peer feedback needs to be specific and concise so that it conveys the exact details.

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Be Timely

Nothing is more valuable to an employee than well-timed feedback. While sharing peer feedback, do not wait for the correct opportunity to address your coworkers’ issues. Share your feedback as close to the event as possible. It will help them better correlate their actions with the feedback they receive. If not shared on time, top-performers go unrecognized, and those who need help, their mistakes continue to amplify over time. It results in low motivation and increases the disengagement of your colleagues.

Use Passive Voice

While we can say it clearly that passive voice is not impactful and effective in writing, it is useful while sharing constructive criticism with your coworkers. It makes the feedback productive and focuses it on the subject instead of the person. When feedback is non-personal, it is more likely that your peers will accept it and be less defensive about it. For instance, consider these two hypothetical examples:

1) “You didn’t support the details you referred to in the presentation.”

2) “This presentation would be insightful with more data to back the details.”

While both examples communicate the same thing, the second example is more effective as it revolves around the subject and doesn’t criticize the person.

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Following-up with your peer is optional, but it is a good practice if you want your feedback to be effective. It will help you understand your colleague’s progress and whether they need any help. It will motivate and encourage them to work harder and stay productive.


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