Why Peer-Based Performance Reviews Are a Bad Idea

Because personal feelings will ALWAYS come into play. That’s just human nature.

As a boss, it is your job to know the work is getting done.  It is your job to provide a decent work environment for your employees.  It is your job to acknowledge, understand, and provide accurate feedback to those who support you.

My experience with a peer-based performance review:

Prior to my life of owning my own business, I have had the pleasure of working for several different companies. Different companies with similar management styles.  Regardless of the company, performance reviews were an expected annual tradition.  Yippee !  A raise !

My last review was handled differently from all the others. It was peer-based. In a nutshell, the belief is a peer-based review offers insight into an employee’s work performance via co-workers. Direct Managers may have the last word as far as overall performance, but a group of peers provide the nitty-gritty details.

Even though my review was a good one, it did have a negative comment that I didn’t expect. That stupid comment sticks with me to this day: “Kathleen makes self serving decisions”.  These five little words resulted in a lower overall rating than what I would have received. As soon as I read it, I knew which one of my co-workers made that comment. She and I had issues. In all honesty, she was my least favorite peer within the company. And I’m sure I wasn’t her favorite, either.

Self serving decisions?  Really? Are you kidding me ?

I knew the exact incident she was referring to, and it was not a self serving decision, I assure you.

The rest of the comments on this performance review were vague, neutral, and otherwise boring. Clearly, my peers didn’t have much knowledge of what I did on a regular basis. How many of you know the day-to-day duties of your co-workers? Sure, we would occasionally talk shop during lunch break, but the details of my job were only known by me, the person who trained me in the position, and my boss.

Now is the time to knock the boss.  He should have had a general idea of what my job consisted of.  He should have had an inkling of an idea of how I performed and carried out my responsibilities.  I reported to him.  I kept him in the loop. After all, his pay was based in part on how well I performed my job.

So why are peer-based performance reviews even considered ?

If done anonymously, the guards are down and people feel more free to express their thoughts. Managers believe they get unbiased, honest opinions of their workers when scouting others to participate in peer-based reviews.  But often they don’t realize there may be personal conflicts between worker and peer.  Like I said at the beginning: personal feelings will ALWAYS come into play.

What Can A Boss Do?

Employees need affirmation, motivation, and an occasional “atta boy” from their boss.  This is only achieved when there is a direct relationship between boss and employee.  If a boss does not make the effort to know their worker’s habits, there will be undiscovered issues that effect performance.  When depending upon others to grade their peer, the relationship is not formed.  There will be higher turnover rates, lower level of production, and strife within the company.

If you’re a boss, stick with writing the review yourself.  Get to know your workers and provide honest feedback.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *