Have you ever been asked to conduct a peer review? It’s probably one of the toughest and most dreaded things you can face as an employee – often we don’t feel in the right position to be offering feedback to our peers. Contrary to what you might initially think, you are, in fact, uniquely qualified for this task! In fact, even if you aren’t explicitly asked, you should always be looking for ways to build up your team members. Offering useful, constructive criticism is a great place to start.
One of the first things you should admit to yourself is that you may have more experience with how a peer works on a day-to-day basis – how they react to stress, large projects, or negative customer interactions. How often do they require assistance or ask for help without going to a manager? Your daily experience working with your peers is uniquely valuable to your superiors!
Don’t Be Vague
While a general pat on the back can make someone feel good, it won’t necessarily point out what their strengths are. Give as much detail within your verbal or written feedback as you can; discuss how you observed their strengths play into this positive outcome. Encourage your peers to harness more of what is being praised in the future!
Don’t Shy Away
Often, we may notice an area for improvement in our peers – if it’s obvious that someone is struggling with something, it’s in no one’s best interest to stay silent. Finding the perfect way to word constructive criticism can be hard, but that shouldn’t stop us from offering it. Feedback should always be delivered with the improved performance of the individual in mind; you are here to help them identify how they can use their strengths to tighten up the loose ends.
If you do need to deliver some constructive criticism, skip the “sandwich” approach (delivering a negative tidbit in between two positives). This tactic is always obvious, and it can be received quite poorly by some people. While a “sandwich” may seem to lessen the blow, it can actually bring down the recipient even further. Choose instead to level with your peers, taking an approach more like this: “here’s what’s happening, and here’s how we can leverage your strengths to fix it”.
Keep it Professional
Some people are simply more likely to take criticism personally than others – in those cases, try your best to be gentle in your approach. Others, however, are extremely open to new ideas and love hearing that others are invested in their success. Keep in mind as you formulate peer reviews, or consider providing feedback, that your comments should only address this person’s work. This will help the recipient not feel attacked or targeted in any way.
Positive peer feedback can help create a great company culture where employees feel supported and cared for by their peers. While comments from supervisors are nice, knowing that your team members care about your success can improve performance and inspire confidence. Take every opportunity you can to build up your coworkers – even outside of peer reviews.