What is Peer appraisal?

By Abhishek Kathpal | Updated 10 August, 2022

Companies want to ensure they get the most out of their workforce. Periodically, managers evaluate their teams to have insights into their productivity and identify hardworking employees and problems that need to be solved. Peer appraisal is a system of evaluation that is gaining ground in today’s workplace, and it is not without reason.

What is Peer appraisal

Peer appraisal meaning and definition

Peer Appraisal, also known as peer review performance evaluation, is a type of feedback system in performance evaluation. In this system, employees of the same team anonymously give reviews on their co-workers. Managers and supervisors use this review to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, potential, and improvements using key metrics such as interpersonal skills, communication skills, and attitude towards feedback.

However, managers and supervisors are usually excluded from peer review performance evaluation. This exclusion raises the evaluation quality as employees become aware of strengths and weaknesses as perceived by their co-workers, thus helping build a better team relationship

Peer Appraisal techniques

The following are some of the techniques companies use in peer appraisal.

  1. The Ranking Technique: In this technique, the appraiser ranks his co-workers on overall performance. The advantages of the technique is that appraisers rank employees according to their performance level, and the process is easy and fast. On the flip side, employees are compared with each other despite the inherent problems in comparing individuals with different traits and team roles. Furthermore, such a ranking becomes more difficult when a large number of employees are involved. One of the biggest disadvantages, though, is there are no set-down procedures or metrics for ranking individuals. Therefore, there is a high risk of bias.

  2. The Forced Distribution Technique: In this technique, appraisers are instructed to allocate judgements such as excellent, above average, and average to specific categories. The process reduces the potential for bias, and the pre-determined categories and judgements streamlines opinions. However, it could lead to frustration of employees who feel they are productive yet find themselves with a lower grade. This situation can take a toll on their morale and affects their productivity.

Other peer appraisal techniques include:

  1. Paired comparison.

  2. Critical incidence.

  3. Checklists.

  4. Performance test

  5. Essay evaluation.

Peer Review Performance Evaluation

Despite the several structural changes that may occur in organizations and companies recently, performance evaluation has remained untouched and is still gaining importance. However, one might argue that these reviews, usually at the end of a stipulated period, are ineffective and full of bias because they are boss-centric.

Alternatively, modern organizational structures like Amazon and Spotify using self-organizing team-based systems do not need 'the boss' when evaluating. Hence, they shifted from boss-led reviews to peer review performance evaluations. Peer review performance evaluation yields larger amounts of feedback, and there is a reduced risk of a potentially biased view.

Why Every Company Should Consider Peer Appraisal

Peer appraisal is gaining prominence in many organizations, and for a good reason. The system of peer appraisal is a win-win situation. It is a more comfortable evaluation system for employees and also beneficial for management as they have more accurate team-sourced data to drive decision-making.

  1. It Improves Accuracy: The traditional performance evaluation system where managers and supervisors assess employees can be inaccurate due to minimal manager-employee contact. However, the peer appraisal process provides more accurate feedback. Employees have day-to-day contact with co-workers and better know each other's strengths and weaknesses.

  2. Encourages Employee Recognition: Since the employees give feedback on their co-workers' achievements, attitudes, and hard work, potential employees who managers and supervisors could have ignored are recognized better.

  3. Team Building: In peer appraisals, workers know their co-workers will evaluate them. Hence, there is a higher determination to collaborate effectively with other team members. This collaboration leads to a more positive relationship and excellent teamwork.

Peer Appraisal Example

The peer appraisal system involves many methods. For example, employees could be asked to give feedback based on specific metrics by providing forms containing questions. While this method could be time-saving, it restricts the co-workers in their assessment. Allowing workers to express themselves freely during feedback could yield better results.

With this in mind, below are typical positive peer appraisal examples:

  1. You show a deep sense of creativity and innovation. You always seek out ways to improve the team's productivity.

  2. I admire how you handle customer-related issues and remain calm under pressure.

  3. Your designing skills are top-notch. I like how you portray the organization's image in your designs.

Positive reviews can improve performance and boost productivity. Negative appraisals are no different. They are as effective as positive appraisals. Here are some typical negative appraisals:

  1. You seem to always look for reasons why a plan will fail rather than putting in efforts to see it's a success.

  2. You are always quiet during team meetings, and you hardly contribute. Is anything going on? Perhaps we can set up a meeting to discuss any issue you face.

  3. I noticed you miss deadlines often. Please discuss with the team lead to help you meet up with tasks.

The above examples are more descriptive than simple answers to questions. However, there is always the risk that irrelevant information will be shared. When conducting a peer appraisal, it is vital to be clear about the objectives and goals of the review. The appraisers should also be familiar with the assessment criteria and the standards against which their opinions are weighed.

What are the Types of Peer Appraisal?

Some companies use either the Single Blind peer review where appraisers are unknown to employees or the Open peer review where identities are known. In Single Blind review, a healthy and collaborative workplace is maintained as employees don’t know the identity of their appraisers. In Open appraisal, he identity of appraisals is known to the employees during or after the exercise.

About the Author

Abhishek Kathpal

Abhi is the co-founder at Longlist.io. Funded by US based OnDeck, Longlist is currently enabling 50+ businesses to increase their candidate and client reach outs, automating the workflow across stages.