How to inspire your team through constructive peer feedback

9 Tips for a Truly Effective Peer Feedback Loop

Let’s encourage team collaboration, not competition.

One way to foster a healthy team culture is to implement a structured (yet flexible) peer-to-peer feedback program. This type of employee engagement enables your team to work together, making the group better as a whole – in a safe, respectful environment.

How to inspire your team through constructive peer feedback

We all know that talent management can be tough for novice and experienced managers. To make sure you’re building an initiative centered around peer feedback the right way,  follow these tips to help you start building your own program.

1. Stay objective

First and foremost, you need to describe the issue(s) without passing judgment. It’s important that the person receiving the feedback doesn’t feel targeted. Craft your notes around the work, not the person. 

Now, if you’re on the receiving end of the peer-to-peer feedback, understand that critiques are not meant to hurt you or your work but instead make both better! In short, it is safe to assume that your reviewer has good intent. Peer feedback is a great growing experience when both parties are open and honest.

2. Ask, don’t infer

Both the giving and receiving team members need to ask questions when they need more information. Instead of jumping to conclusions, dig deeper into the problem at hand and work together to come up with a mutually beneficial solution. It’s amazing what can happen when we put our heads together, especially from two opposing sides. It’s the two of you against the issue, not each other. 

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3. Be proactive

Regular reviews are key here. When peer feedback is built into your regular workflow, it takes a lot of the pressure off both sides. They are less likely to be seen as a punitive consequence to a recent occurrence, and more like a check-in.

By design, this makes your peer feedback loop timely, without the dark cloud hanging overhead. It results in a more efficient and effective problem-solving for everyone on the team. With this in mind, these reviews should be consistent and ongoing to create a sense of normalcy.

4. Prepare, prepare, prepare

And then keep preparing. We’ve all been in at least one meeting where the presentation wasn’t thoughtfully put together. Chances are you felt like it was a waste of your time. 

There’s nothing worse than going into any kind of review, whether informal or extremely buttoned-up, without putting some work into it. Your reviewee should feel like you took the time to genuinely understand them and think about the best solutions to their particular situation. 

5. Personalize your meeting

Building on that, you should try to really understand your peer’s unique personality and learning style when giving them feedback. Your company culture thrives on everyone being different, right? 

 It goes without saying that some people take feedback better than others, but it’s mostly based on perception. If you can dig into what makes your peer motivated, or most likely to change their ways, that’s more valuable than just spewing out a checklist for them to follow. I guarantee your words are more likely to stick if you can find the best way to communicate with your coworkers. 

The DISC personality assessment is a great starting point for diving deeper into your peer’s tendencies and preferences, to make communication easier and more effective. 

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6. Balance the good and bad

Obviously, it’s important to shine on the good as well! Feedback has a negative connotation but doesn’t always have to be bad. Positive peer feedback is just as important for progress. Start the conversation with positive notes and then mix in the constructive feedback. 

If their weaknesses happen to be one of your strengths, it’s okay to offer help! It’s also important to not beat around the bush and be direct with your comments. Clear takeaways are easier to comprehend, instead of a muddled mess.

7. Get granular

General peer feedback is okay, but specific peer feedback is better. When you suggest a change to someone, share a real-life example of when they could have used it.  This gives your peer a chance to understand where you’re coming from and makes it easier for them to identify these types of opportunities when they arise.

That being said, there’s no reason to bring up an especially sore subject. Be mindful of your peer’s feelings and move forward however you deem best. If you think it’s specifically helpful to have an example, feel free to make up a scenario yourself.

8. Have a positive outlook

It’s about the journey. Celebrate it! Instead of positioning your feedback to get the best outcomes as fast as possible, position it for growth. Challenge your colleagues to think this way and give them the best opportunity for success. You want your colleague to feel empowered, not discouraged. Of course, you need to keep the big picture in mind but serving it up in bite-sized chunks makes it easier for everyone. 

9. Leverage the right tech

Use technology to help you – before, during, and after! There are plenty of note-taking and sharing apps that you can use to prepare for and record the meeting. This also allows you to reference your notes at any time to track progress. 

If after the meeting there are more concrete actions, your organization might want to look into a learning management system to organize your next steps for the team as a whole. Other members on your team might need guidance in similar areas and this software can help streamline that process. 

Teamwork makes the dream work

With these tips, you should be well on your way to an awesome program that allows your employees to make a big difference on their team. An effective peer feedback loop can help motivate your team to work together toward something bigger than just their own personal goals. It’s important that everyone on your team be open to giving and receiving feedback from those around them with effective employee reviews.

About the author

Bridget Poetker is a senior content marketing specialist at G2, a B2B software review platform.