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Peer feedback - this is how employee appraisal works without a boss!

peer feedback

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Who doesn't know them? The annual employee appraisals with the supervisor. Until recently, Netstream also handled performance appraisals in this way. But what if a company is no longer managed hierarchically, but collegially? Do we do away with appraisals altogether? Read here how Netstream ensures that employees benefit from the external assessment of their performance even without a boss.

On the way to an agile-learning organization, the feedback culture must also be rethought and a change must take place. That is why we introduced the principle of "peer feedback" at Netstream at the beginning of the year.

What is "peer feedback"?  

In short, they are feedback conversations from self-selected employees. And it works like this: The person to be evaluated chooses 3-6 employees and they will, if they agree to the request, give the person feedback on the following 4 points during 10 minutes:

  • KEEP: What are you doing well?
  • IDEA: Where is potential for development? (concrete proposals)
  • HIGHLIGHTS as a person: What makes you great & unique?
  • HIGHLIGHTS on the job: What did you do that was great & unique?

The feedbacks themselves take place in a 1:1 setting and are accompanied by a moderator. The aim is not to bash, but to provide honest and appreciative feedback and constructive suggestions for change.

Full of excitement and anticipation, my colleague Leandra and I published the intranet post with all the important information about the peer feedbacks. I was amazed when less than 5 minutes later I received the first invitation to give feedback, from our CEO Alexis Caceda. This will be the first "Quali" in his life, he mentioned in passing.  

My first round

On day X, the CEO Alexis, the moderator Leandra, the other feedback givers and I gathered in the meeting room. Leandra again wrote down the 4 feedback points as well as some rules (I-messages...) on the whiteboard and briefly explained them to us. Then the session started. One feedback giver stayed in the meeting room with the feedback receiver and the moderator. While the other feedback givers and I drank tea outside in our lounge and waited for our assignment.

As the last in the series, I was now allowed to give Alexis my feedback on his work as CEO. I carefully prepared his feedback and wrote it down in great detail. Alexis and I sat opposite each other and the moderator took a seat behind me. I spoke, he took notes, and the moderator remained silent. Doing such a monologue was unusual for me, but not unpleasant. Alexis listened attentively to my honest words without saying anything. That was what the rules determined. While it took some effort to show the CEO his development potential and make concrete suggestions, it was all the easier to tell him what I thought was great about him. Alexis himself seemed amazed by this and I wondered if perhaps no one had ever praised him in this way before. The 10 minutes flew by and the longer this conversation (is it a conversation when it's just me talking?) went on, the more comfortable we both felt with it.

During the joint final round, Alexis said that our feedback, especially the critical feedback, would bring him a lot for the future and he thanked us sincerely and warmly.

On the other side of the feedback

A few weeks later, I sat on the other side and had my own peer feedback session. Although I would describe myself as a very self-reflective person, the feedback I received surprised me. Especially the IDEA (development potential), did not fully coincide with the ideas I had myself about my potential for improvement. Seeing myself through the eyes of not just one colleague, but several, sharpened my understanding of myself in an unexpected way.

My conclusion

The benefits of a peer feedback discussion are far greater than those of an appraisal discussion conducted by a supervisor. The acceptance of feedback received from self-selected colleagues is not only greater, but also more credible. Especially if the feedbacks largely agree. The fact that the feedback is not documented and neither contains goals nor is it linked to a pay increase or promotion also makes it easier to accept what is heard and increases the intrinsic motivation to implement the IDEAs received.

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