Training & Learning

9 Tips to Create a Truly Effective Peer Feedback Loop

Let’s encourage team collaboration, not competition.

One way you can foster a healthy team culture? Implement a structured (yet flexible) peer-to-peer feedback loop. This type of employee engagement enables your team to work together, learn from each other, making the group better as a whole – in a safe, respectful environment.

peer feedback asset

The template you need to make sure your peer feedback isn't shooting you in the foot.

How to inspire your team through a constructive peer feedback loop

We all know that managing talent can be tough for novice and experienced managers alike.

To make sure you’re building an initiative centered around the right kind of peer feedback, follow these nine helpful tips.

1. Feedback should be 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. Instead, this kind of constructive feedback is a crucial way to lift performance and employee engagement.

In short, it is safe to assume that your reviewer is offering his or her feedback with the best of intentions. Peer feedback can be a great growing experience when both parties are open and honest. When feedback becomes personal or aggressive, however, employee morale can take a dive, eventually even leading to burnout. If you think this might be the case in your team, consider talking with direct reports about it—our dedicated guide can help.

2. Ask, don’t assume

Both the givers and receivers of peer feedback need to ask questions when they need more information. Instead of jumping to conclusions, try to 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 teams put their heads together, especially from two opposing sides. It’s the two of you against the issue, not against each other.

Go further: How to revolutionize transfer of knowledge within your organization by capitalizing on your internal experts

3. Be proactive

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

By design, this makes your peer feedback loop more timely, without the dark cloud hanging overhead. It results in 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 predictability.

4. Great peer feedback takes preparation

We’ve all been in at least one feedback meeting where the delivery wasn’t thoughtfully put together. This kind of situation is a waste of time for everybody, both the giver and the recipient of the feedback.

There’s nothing worse than going into any kind of review, whether informal or rigorously organized, without putting some work into it. The feedback recipient should feel like you took the time to genuinely understand them, engage with their situation, and think about the best solutions to their particular situation.

5. Personalize your meetings

Another key part of any peer feedback loop is to try to really understand your peer’s unique personality and learning style. After all, your company culture thrives on everyone being different, right?

If you can dig into what makes your peer motivated, or is most likely to change their ways, then your feedback is more valuable than just spewing out a checklist for them to follow. Your advice is a lot 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. If you put in the right effort here, your feedback will be easier to provide, and more effective.

Related read: How 360Learning uses Trello for collaboration

6. Balance both good and bad points of feedback

Feedback can sometimes have a negative connotation, but it doesn’t always have to be bad. Positive peer feedback is just as important for the learning process. 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. Specific peer feedback > general peer feedback

General peer feedback is okay, but specific peer feedback is much better. When you suggest a change to someone, share a real-life example of when they could have used it. This gives the recipients of feedback the ability to identify these types of opportunities when they arise.

On the other hand, there’s no reason to bring up an especially sore subject. If you do need to bring up a touchy topic, then try to be considerate in how you communicate, and offer the recipient the support and guidance they need.

8. Think long-term when giving feedback

Great feedback is also mindful of the long-term journey. Instead of just positioning your feedback to get the best outcomes as fast as possible, think about how your suggestions might help in a year’s time. Challenge your colleagues to think this way and give them the best opportunity for success.

This kind of long-term thinking helps to make peer feedback as useful as possible, not just to the individuals receiving it, but to the company as a whole.

9. Leverage the right feedback tech

Modern technology makes it a lot easier to establish and maintain a great peer feedback loop.

For example, 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 collaborative learning platform 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.

An effective peer feedback loop can unlock company potential

With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a great peer feedback program that allows your employees to make a big difference to their wider teams.

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.

Want more help with motivating your team to share feedback and learn from each other? Book a free demo of our Collaborative Learning platform.