7 Tips on How To Give Feedback to Peers in 2022

November 1, 2022 Ryan Stoltz

Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to optimize your workplace’s feedback procedure by getting employees more involved in the feedback process?

Peer-to-peer feedback is a great way to help employees stay engaged in their work while learning more about their strengths and areas of improvement from those who know their work the best.

Combined with regular feedback, peer feedback can help your employees take ownership of their positions and their performance.

Read on to learn more about how to give feedback to peers and ways that you can implement it in your workplace.

Peer-to-Peer Feedback Drives Workplace Productivity

how to give feedback to peers
Learn how to give constructive peer feedback

There are many benefits when you use peer-to-peer feedback within your organization. First, it can provide more accurate and constructive feedback.

Peer reviews can help employees receive an accurate and personalized account of their strengths and challenges, giving them opportunities to improve.

In fact, in one study, when asked “on average, do you agree that your organization’s performance reviews are an accurate appraisal of employees’ work?”

81% of responders who received a semiannual review with peer feedback said yes, while only 65% of those with a semiannual review and no peer feedback responded in the affirmative.

See also: How to give feedback to managers

While adopting an organized system for effective feedback can be time-consuming, it can also be worth it to provide your employees with information that’s relevant to them and their roles.

Not only that, but they can use this information to do better, more efficient work, all while feeling more connected to their teammates.

For this reason, peer feedback may be the future of employee performance reviews.

How To Give Feedback to Peers

Interested in learning more about what goes into good peer feedback?

Giving peer review feedback can be tough. Here are some steps you and your employees can take to offer quality reviews:

1. Learn about the different types of constructive feedback

Before giving any recommendations to their peers, it’s important for employees to understand the different types of feedback and how they can use each.

Informal feedback, for example, includes all the regular, nonscheduled feedback that an employee may receive from simply talking to a peer.

Formal feedback is more structured and often requires employees to complete several steps, like documenting their ideas or scheduling regular meetings.

2. Prepare beforehand

No matter if an employee wants to hold an informal discussion with a co-worker or submit an official feedback notice, it’s important to prepare beforehand to make sure that the feedback conversation is as productive as possible.

When providing peer feedback, employees should consider practicing what they’d like to say to a peer before saying it.

They should also read over any written feedback several times to make sure that it offers the intended tone.

When giving constructive criticism, employees should think about any specific examples that they would like to use before they provide feedback to show that they’ve seriously considered the feedback rather than simply offering it on a whim.

See also: 45 Peer Review Examples that Work

3. Give a heads-up

Whenever you or any employee offers peer feedback, try to give the recipient notice so that they aren’t caught off guard by your review.

If you’re submitting formal feedback, you can use a peer review system that alerts employees when a review is submitted.

If you’re planning on having an informal conversation, though, you should still try to provide a little heads-up before beginning the conversation.

4. Don’t wait

Encourage employees to act quickly to provide feedback when they notice a pattern of behavior that could use correcting.

This gives the person receiving feedback ample time to correct any problematic behavior before it becomes a habit and hinders the employee’s performance.

In many cases, employees may not even realize that there is an issue with their work, so it’s important to bring it to their attention as soon as possible.

This can increase employee engagement, productivity, and limit interruptions by ensuring that each employee is completing the highest quality work.

5. Encourage conversation

When offering peer review feedback, try to frame the interaction as a discussion rather than a lecture and that it’s not the person that’s the issue.

This can avoid making the recipient feel like they’re being attacked and allow them the opportunity to take ownership of their performance by asking questions.

Try to encourage this conversational nature by saying things like “Do you have any questions?” or “Does that make sense to you?”

6. Practice empathy

Whenever you or a direct report gives feedback, you should always practice empathy by considering the recipient’s point of view.

Before giving peer feedback, try to think about how you might react if you were in their place.

You can also imagine what objections or questions they might have to prepare sufficient responses. This can help you provide positive, growth mindset feedback.

As you’re speaking, try to frame your feedback in a way that shows how much you’re thinking of them as a person.

For example, you can say something like “I know that you’ve been under a lot of stress lately, and I feel for you, but I do think that there might be more positive ways for you to manage that stress.”

Not only can this make the recipient feel more supported, but it can also allow them to leave the conversation on a more positive note.

This may make them more likely to seriously consider and implement your advice.

7. Anonymous feedback

One alternative strategy that might work well for your team is making peer feedback reviews anonymous.

According to one paper that reviewed 14 studies, anonymous peer assessments proved to be effective, noting performance improvements, an increase in self-perceived social effects, and and the ability to deliver more critical peer review feedback. 

Strategies for Improving Feedback Within Teams

Interested in improving feedback within entire teams? Here are some tips to help you make the most of peer feedback opportunities:

Be consistent

Try to prioritize feedback that goes beyond an annual review or even just a semiannual review.

Develop systems for employees to offer and receive consistent feedback.

For example, you can implement monthly or quarterly peer review sessions that offer employees the chance to discuss relevant and timely performance notes as soon as they can.

More consistent feedback can allow employees to make changes or adjustments in real-time rather than having to reflect on all their work in the previous year.

Stay positive but realistic

Feedback should always be as positive as possible. This can help the recipient process the information constructively.

While you should try to remain positive with feedback, don’t sugarcoat negative information.

It’s important to offer realistic, constructive criticism rather than avoid what you’re really trying to say.

Some ways to do this would be to stay away from overly negative evaluations of the recipient’s overall performance or character and instead focus on objective examples that could use improvement.

For example, you could say “You’re usually extremely punctual, but lately you’ve shown up late for meetings.”

This example doesn’t limit the impact of their behavior, but it does avoid judgment or any negative evaluations of their character.

Focus on specifics

Whenever possible, feedback should be specific and tailored to the individual. Try to relate back to their individual role within the company whenever you can.

Focus on their specific job duties and how they could improve their work within their unique role.

For example, you can compare their performance to the stated requirements on their job description, offering an objective view of their work.

Providing more general feedback that isn’t tied to specific performance indicators can leave the employee feeling like the feedback didn’t really apply to them.

Personalize feedback

It’s important to use objective facts and data when offering feedback.

However, human beings are not robots, so it’s also important to speak to them in a personal manner.

Rather than simply discussing recent performance in a vacuum, try to look at the employee’s entire body of work to see if they’re improving or advancing.

You should also try to personalize the employee feedback experience to offer each individual employee the exact support they require.

Some people, for example, might require more positive reinforcement and focus on their strengths, while others may respond better to objective facts and patterns.

It can be challenging to keep track of all these different feedback styles, but a good way to gain more information is to gather feedback from employees about review practices.

If all else fails, you can also simply ask questions during the feedback session to make sure that you’re using the correct approach.

Promoting a Peer Review Feedback Culture

These steps can help you promote a work culture that celebrates and embraces peer feedback:

Develop a clear system

You can promote peer feedback within your organization by developing an easy feedback system to motivate workers.

In many cases, employees may have thoughts or ideas that they’d like to share with their co-workers. But, they may be too nervous or not know how to approach the situation.

If you create a clear organization-wide system using best feedback practices, employees can feel empowered to share their ideas.

This can include regular feedback sessions, written feedback options, or even anonymous options to attract those who might not otherwise offer their thoughts.

You may also want to create and distribute a feedback template, making the process even easier and ensuring that feedback remains respectful and constructive.

Reinforce good habits with positive feedback

Not only can you develop systems for constructive criticism, but you can also promote positive feedback.

In order to build a strong feedback culture, encourage employees to note any particularly impressive performances by co-workers, making the positive feedback process as straightforward as criticism.

This can help employees understand when they’re giving a great performance, hopefully motivating them to keep up the good work.

Consistently promote feedback

Once you’ve established a peer review process, try to promote it throughout the company.

Make sure that everyone understands how the peer-to-peer feedback system works and make the template easily accessible to anyone who wants it.

If you’d really like to promote feedback sharing, you can even offer rewards for those who offer the most feedback in a given period.

When someone offers feedback, be sure to thank them for taking the time to offer their ideas.

FAQ

These commonly asked questions can help you learn more about peer feedback:

Why is peer feedback important?

Peer feedback is important because it gives employees an opportunity to learn about their performance from the people who are closest to their work.

Along with continuous feedback from managers, this feedback can help employees understand what they’re doing well and what they can improve.

Knowing this can help them become more productive in the workplace.

When is the best time to promote peer feedback?

It’s best to constantly promote peer feedback. Regular review cycles can be helpful, but consistent peer review can help employees fix any issues as they occur.

This can help employees reflect on and update their behavior before it becomes a habit.

Is positive peer feedback effective?

Yes, positive peer feedback can be just as effective as criticism.

This can help employees learn what they’re doing right in the hopes that they may repeat it in the future.

It can also make them feel valued as a contributing member of a team.

Conclusion

Peer-to-peer feedback is an effective way to help workers take ownership of their performance and that of their team members.

It’s important to promote this feedback type in the right way, though, allowing for a positive experience for all.

With Workhuman’s great people management tools and applications, you can make developing a simple, effective feedback system easy.

Check out our offerings today and let us help you create meaningful conversations within your teams.