Peer reviews: participant initiated vs peer initiated

When creating a review cycle as a review admin, you get to select which types of reviews you want to include— self, manager, peer, and/or upward. If you choose to include peer reviews in your cycle, you also have the option to make the peer reviews participant initiated or peer initiated. What is the difference? What does science say about the two? What does each process look like? All of those questions will be answered in this article.

In this article you will learn...

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Note

If you're a manager in a review cycle that's hidden from participant view and contains peer reviews, the review cycle participant will not nominate peers to review them. Either you, a review admin, or a cycle collaborator are responsible for selecting peers for your direct report. This replaces the participant initiated or peer initiated peer review process. 

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Participant initiated reviews

What is it?

Participant initiated reviews are driven by the participant. The participant is in control of who their peers are and the participant's manager can approve or deny the peers. There is an option for managers to nominate peers on behalf of the participant, but we do recommend the participant be in charge of nominating the peers they work closely with.

Visibility is set by the review administrator(s) during cycle creation. Options are fully transparent, anonymous to the participant, and fully anonymous. 

What does the science say?

In terms of the peer nomination process, research shows employee participation in the process increases perceived fairness, which increases the likelihood for a successful review. Furthermore, participant initiated peer reviews increase the amount of solicited feedback in organizations, and promote cultures characterized by high psychological safety. Teams with high psychological safety feel safe to seek feedback from others, which in turn improves performance in organizations. Lastly, research shows 360° peer feedback for development increases performance, goal orientation, and the growth mindset. This differs from traditional performance appraisals where it’s common for superiors to evaluate their subordinates only.

What does the process look like?

  • Review cycle participants will nominate peers to review them. A person's manager, review admins, or cycle collaborators can also nominate peers on their behalf. Peers can be nominated up until the review cycle's end date, or until your review results have been finalized— whichever comes first.
  • If a review cycle participant nominates a peer(s), their manager, review admins, or a cycle collaborator will either approve or deny the nominations on the participant's peer nomination page.
  • The person approving/declining peers will see a warning icon next to the names of any peers who have been nominated more than five times. They'll also see the number of total nominations and approved nominations for the peer so they can make an informed decision about whether or not they should approve the peer.
  • Approved peers will be sent a notification asking them to either accept or decline the nomination. Peers who accept the nomination will then write a peer review about the participant.
  • Any peer nominations that are denied by a manager, review admin, or cycle collaborator or who are declined by the nominated peer can be removed from the list of nominated peers so a new peer can be nominated in their place. Peer nominations can be after they've been accepted and before the review has been submitted.
  • Once a peer review is submitted, a person's direct manager, a review admin, or a cycle collaborator can send the review back to the author for editing or remove any feedback that is not constructive.
  • Peer reviews will be shared with the review cycle participant when review results are shared with them by either their manager, a cycle collaborator, or a review admin. Whether the peer's identity shared with the participant depends on review cycle settings. Whether the peer's verbatim feedback is shared with the participant depends on review cycle settings or whether a review answer was removed from shared results.

Additional resources


Peer initiated reviews

What is it?

Peer initiated reviews are driven by the peer. In peer initiated reviews, the peer is in control of who they write peer reviews of. There is not an approval process for peer initiated reviews. 

Visibility is set by the review administrator(s) during cycle creation. Options are fully transparent, anonymous to participant, for fully anonymous. 

What does the science say?

Although the science does not necessarily encourage peer initiated reviews, we understand it might be desired for your company. Research shows that most of the time, feedback (of all different kinds) fails. The fallacy of real-time feedback becomes apparent when systems of unsolicited, manager-driven feedback are implemented. These systems trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response when constructive feedback is unexpectedly received, making it unlikely that the person will act on it. Organizations can never completely avoid situations of unsolicited, manager-driven feedback; but they can increase the amount of effective feedback by giving employees the tools to actively seek it.

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Note

Select the 'Peer initiated' option only if your employees know what makes peer feedback effective and actionable. Learn more about the best practices for giving feedback.

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Tip

If peer initiated reviews are included in a review cycle, we recommend 1) setting visibility to something other than fully anonymous and 2) enabling the setting that allows managers and review administrators to remove answers from peer + upward reviews. These two settings will create a safeguard, allowing for the peer initiated feedback to be reviewed and/or removed, if needed, before being shared with the participant.

What does the process look like?

Additional resources

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