We resort to a series of programs and practices like job rotation, reverse evaluation, and self-management. They’re intended to help people tap their reservoir of talent and to preclude the need for weeding out. We never assume there are weeds among us. – Ricardo Semler
In a Nutshell
When it comes to getting feedback, what would you prefer? Receiving feedback from someone who doesn’t really do the things you do or understand all the nuances of your work? Or, would you prefer to be judged by someone who’s currently walking in your shoes?
Most of us inherently want to be judged by someone who understands the travails of our jobs. We want our judges to empathize with the blood and sweat we’ve put into our work. So, why then are peer reviews such a counter-intuitive idea when it comes to the way business review employee performance?
The practice of a manager reviewing the performance of a subordinate is a practice that’s steeped in conventional ideas of management. It’s a view of performance management that seems clearer only because we’re more familiar with its ways. However, peer appraisal is relatively a new concept, that comes with its own set of inherent paradoxes. Like, how can a peer be a judge? Or, Will the feedback given to an individual upset the entire team’s dynamic? Because of these speed breakers involved, peer review often tends to be skewed towards positives. Coworkers could conservatively avoid pointing out the negatives in their peers or offering constructive feedback, rendering the entire exercise futile.
This article on the Harvard Business Review, which delves deep into the paradoxes involved in peers assessing peers, talks about the role managers can play in helping employees overcome their fears regarding peer evaluations. At a time when more and more companies are embracing the practice, it’s crucial that people understand the purpose behind evaluating their coworkers; that companies tailor the evaluation metrics according to the size and needs of the teams; and that managers support the practice and keep themselves open to positive and negative feedback from all around.