Peer to Peer Performance Appraisals

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1. I am looking for information related to how individuals respond to performance appraisals from thier coworkers. Any information would be helpful.

-- Ralph Mireles (ralph.mireles@enron.com), August 14, 2001

Answers

Peer to Peer Performance Appraisals can be very helpful, but only in the right context. The most critical element of successful peer to peer appraisals is an overriding team score that every member of the team is being held accountable to achieving.

Peer-to-peer appraisals need to focus on a peer stepping up to help another learn how to be successful in the future. They will only help another learn if everyone on the team is being held accountable to an overriding team goal. Peer to Peer performance appraisals can be very beneficial to the team because fellow teammates are closer to the action than the manager; consequently, teammates can usually provide feedback more quickly than he can. Often the feedback is more useful, since itís based on immediate situations. Trust and a willingness to be open to new ideas are prerequisites to peer-to-peer learning. Teammates have to be able to take criticism and coaching from a peer without perceiving it as a putdown or a way to pull rank. Coworkers will receive real feedback from other team members if that feedback will help the team to win. If individuals are only evaluated on their own performance, not on the teams, you run the risk of pitting one teammate against another. That sort of talk works against the team and teamwork and can spark the beginnings of one-upmanship.

In addition, remember to evaluate each individual against his or her individual performance expectations and contributions to the teamónot against another employee. Measuring employees against other employees kills trust and trust is a prerequisite for teamwork.

Individuals gain knowledge through direct experience and by reflecting on and sharing those experiences with others. Teams create an opportunity to share ideas, and when people are evaluated on the teamís success, not simply on their individual performance, self- interest becomes secondary. When theyíre a part of a team they trust, have a connection with, and are committed to, individuals rise above their limited perspective and see the benefit of sharing knowledge.

Appraising performance should also come from customers (internal & external) as well as peers. Teach every employee to listen for constant performance appraisal.

While feedback needs to come from many sources, the manager has final responsibility for formal evaluations because he is ultimately accountable for the teamís results. Thus the manager must be willing to reconcile incongruities from the many performance evaluators. Like the coach who must ensure that the team stays focused on winning, the manager must ensure that action plans and training programs are drawn up appropriately and are adhered to or revised if the team begins to falter.

Basketball coaches recognize that feedback from most other sources will validate the coachís view, but not all performance feedback will help the team on a continual basis. The fans at a game may applaud wildly at a risky shot that happens to go in the basket, but the coach has to be prepared to reprimand the player for taking actions that have such a slim chance for repeated success. At the formal evaluation, the manager must be aware of other performance feedback and be prepared to reconcile any incongruous messages conveyed by different performance evaluators. The evaluation process is not democratic just because the manager and employee pay attention to performance feedback from many sources. The manager gathers information from everyone, but he must judge the validity of each piece of feedback. Employee empowerment and accountability do not relieve the manager from being accountable for success.

Rick Adams radams@teamsthatwin.com

-- Rick Adams (radams@teamsthatwin.com), August 25, 2001.


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