Creating a feedback culture is important. Frequent feedback can help employees understand what they’re doing well and what needs to change, so they can improve their performance. And in addition to that, most employees want to receive consistent feedback from their peers and managers.
Let's first have a look at what we mean by creating a peer feedback culture.
The aim of an open feedback culture is to create a work environment where all levels feel welcome and comfortable giving feedback to each other, from peer to peer.
Establishing a peer feedback culture takes some time and in this article, we will discuss the Why, the What, the How, the Who, and the When. So let's start with the Why.
Why should we create an open peer feedback culture?
Receiving feedback from your peers supports a growth mindset, it fosters alignment, and feedback in general increases employee wellbeing. Employees and team members crave feedback, provided it is given well. If you want to learn more about giving impactful feedback, read this article. Including peers in your feedback gives another perspective, as peers often observe behaviors, which a manager can not observe and thus provides a new facet to support personal growth. Creating a peer feedback culture where the team rather than the individual is put first helps to build high-performing teams.
What does it take to create a peer feedback culture?
First and foremost it takes trust to create a peer feedback culture. People who receive peer feedback must feel safe and comfortable that giving peer feedback will not be reprimanded in any way and that it is accepted as an incentive to grow. Secondly, it takes time. If your organization is new to sharing feedback back, ensure to give plenty of time. Set up the processes, communicate the benefits, and take it step by step. On the other hand, you also need to set aside enough time to share feedback and learn from it. Weekly peer coaching sessions or setting aside free time for learning are beneficial. The third element to creating a peer feedback culture is involvement. Everyone from the CEO to the intern should be included. Ask members from all levels to contribute and share their input. This creates buy-in and if you have champions who actively live an open feedback culture, your organization will soon grow into it. Lastly, it takes a growth mindset. On the individual level to improve your skills and build on your strengths. By nature we enjoy learning - just remember how as a small child we could not get enough of exploring and learning. When we put the team spirit first, a growth mindset shows in bringing our team forward to achieving great results together. This mindset should be lived actively by all people, including leaders and incorporates openly requesting feedback and, sharing the received feedback to create a learning environment.
PS. The leader does not have to be the manager - anyone can take the lead in living a growth mindset.
What kind of feedback should peers share?
If you are asked to provide peer feedback, the general rules for providing feedback apply. It is especially useful if you can focus on areas where you have worked together with the person.
Sharing positive feedback and how it impacted you is as important as sharing where you can see your peer's strength to build on further. Sharing constructive feedback is not easy and takes practice. If you share it based on observations and the impact it had it is a very powerful tool for your colleague to reflect. Especially feedback on complex problem solving that required creativity or where your colleague inspired you, are true treasures of peer feedback. To remember all the interactions you had with your colleagues, you can use the Instant Feedback feature and all feedback that you shared will be visible in the year-end / bi-annual review cycle or you can make use of the private notes feature. This way you ensure to share feedback without falling into the recency bias trap.
How can you establish a peer feedback culture?
Leapsome offers you two options to share peer-to-peer feedback based on skills: Instant Feedback and 360˚ feedback.
You can send, receive and request feedback at any time. The structure helps you to give meaningful feedback, which is based on observations. The beauty of this module is, that you can use it anytime and link it to one or many skills, offering you a flexible approach. The power of requesting feedback is that it increases your perceived leadership. Another benefit: people who receive feedback that they requested, are more likely to act upon it and feel inspired by it (Gallup).
Three ideas to gain traction with your instant feedback project:
- Feedback month: Donate a certain amount of money for each feedback that was sent / requested (e.g. one dollar for each requested feedback for the period of one month).
- Feedback challenge: Run a feedback competition between departments: who shares/receives the most feedback?
- Feedback raffle: Set a timeframe and everyone who shares feedback enters the raffle. In the end, you draw one person who shared feedback. The person and also one person, with whom they shared feedback will receive a small price.
- You can run it the classical way, with a self-assessment and evaluation of direct reports, managers, and peers. The feedback that is shared by peers is valuable as it might highlight areas that managers or yourself might not be aware of. The score that peers share does not influence the overall performance score, which is based on the manager's scores only. So you can feel free to share open feedback and accept it as an opportunity to grow where somebody has taken the time to reflect on your skills. The peer feedback can be anonymous or with the name visible. If you are new to peer feedback it might be easier to run it anonymously first, until you build that level of trust. If your organization is more mature at sharing feedback openly, offer the option to ask questions and brainstorm ideas together after the feedback is shared. The setting is decided by the person who sets up the cycle.
Some other ideas to use peer feedback from Reviews that can help build a feedback culture:
- Peer-to-peer reviews: Only peers share feedback on strengths and one area they see potential to develop further within a team. This boosts team performance and invites individual development.
Peer mentoring program: Using the 9 Box analytics to pair two employees who each excel at one skill and pair them, so they can learn from each other (and share feedback with each other of course).
In the example below we could pair Tina, represented by the purple dot, who excels at communication with the employee represented by the grey dot, who excels in driving innovation.
Who are great peers to ask for feedback?
Depending on what your objective is you might choose any or all of the below suggestions.
- Enablers: People who work on the same projects as you, who support you in your role, or who are part of your team. They share the same skills and can give insights on how you perform on these skills and where your approach to the same problem inspired someone.
- Coaches: They are people who coach you on a certain skill and who have vast experience in this field. You should ask them if you wish to hear specific feedback on the areas you are being coached on.
- Contributors: They work on the same project as you, but have different skills. They might be from a different department and their different perspective can offer you new insights and help you to gain suggestions on how to approach situations from their viewpoint.
- Mentors: Usually an experienced person in your organization, who can offer you a meta-perspective on how you fit into the organization, where you make a difference, and how your development has been.
When is a good time to start?
It is never too early or too late to start building a peer-to-peer feedback culture. As we mentioned in the beginning it is important that you are ready. The communication strategy and processes should be defined and ready to be rolled out. It is also advisable that you choose a time to launch a structured approach during a period where most employees will be available and the workload is not too high. So excluding the holiday period or a period in which your business is usually the busiest are good ideas.
You can start now: Set the example by actively asking your people for feedback!