Peer reviews: participant initiated vs peer initiated

As a review administrator, you have options as to which reviews are included in each cycle you create- self & manager (always required), peer (optional), upward (optional). If you choose to include peer reviews in your cycle, you will 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.


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?

  • Participant nominates peers.
  • Participant's manager approves/denies the nomination.
  • If the nomination is approved, the peer accepts/declines the nomination.
  • Peer nominations can also be deleted by the manager anytime before the peer accepts/declines the nomination.

Participants will see a tab to nominate peers, managers will also see a tab to nominate peers for their direct reports, AND managers can manage peers for their team. From there, managers can keep track of the peer reviews being written about their direct report(s) and use the content within to have a growth and development conversation at the end of the cycle. Managers will be notified when someone submits a peer review of their direct report(s). 


Peer initiated reviews

What is it?

Peer initiated reviews are driven by the peer. For a peer to initiate a peer review, they must first be a participant themselves and they must be writing a peer review about a participant; both parties must be participants in the cycle. In peer initiated reviews, the peer and the peer alone, 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 reviewers 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?

  • Peer (who is also a participant) selects which participant(s) they would like to write a peer review about.
  • Peer can draft up the peer review anytime after selecting.
  • Peers will be able to submit their peer review(s) without any approvals.
  • Managers will still be alerted when someone submits a peer review about their direct report(s).
  • Before sharing the peer initiated reviews, it is important that reviewers look over the content and remove any feedback that is not helpful.
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