How to Discuss Work Performance With Peers

If you work with any type of team, it is important to note that it isn’t only you and your boss who have a stake in your performance, your colleagues are invested too. Because they work closely with you, much closer than a supervisor or manager, they will have good insight into your performance.

In an office with the right workplace culture, your peers will be rooting for you to succeed. That success will be good for your career and it could make the difference between the team hitting or missing a target. This is why it is a good idea to discuss work performance with peers. 

Before you discuss work performance with peers

The process should be guided by a manager

While this review with peers is done between colleagues, management has a big role to play. They should create and support a culture where peers review each other. This means introducing the program to employees and explaining the benefits. 

Management should also create guidelines around the process, for instance; how does the organisation define a peer? How long should one have worked alongside another in order to be able to discuss their work performance with them? Plus, management needs to clarify what areas will be evaluated so that the discussions can provide information that can help the employee and the organisation. 

One of the criticisms of work performance reviews with peers is that if they are anonymous and unsupervised, they can result in employees using the system to unfairly attack each other. Management over sight can get rid of this challenge. 

If you are giving someone feedback, prepare before the discussion 

Take into consideration the fact that getting feedback can be uncomfortable, even if it’s from a trusted colleague that you have a great working relationship with. That is why it is important to do a bit of homework before going in for the review, whether it will be in person or you will be filling out a form. Don’t wait until you are in the room to think about what to say.

Be specific about both negative and positive points and give examples to back up what you are saying. If it is an in person discussion, preface it with what you hope both parties will benefit. 

Go in with an open mind

If you will be on the receiving end of a work performance review from a peer, you too need to do some prep work first. It can feel like you’re being judged but listen to what your peer is saying and trust that they are trying to be helpful. Feel free to ask questions in order to gain clarity.

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How to discuss work performance with peers

Focus on company values 

Often times, colleagues can become like family and this can make discussing work performance with peers tricky. If management has not provided formal criteria on what areas to focus on, look at the company values for guidance. Look at how the person being reviewed embodied the values, what they did in support of them and how they can do better next time. 

Take the wide view

When you discuss work performance with peers, make it comprehensive. As opposed to discussing one particular project, talk about their day to day work and how they fared on other projects.

This will make the discussion more fruitful. It will also eliminate the bias that can come from focusing on one project. For instance, if one did extremely well on one project, to neglect others might ignore a behavioural gap that they may need to improve on. 

Give it a balance 

In discussing work performance with peers, it is important to balance both good and bad feedback. It is very difficult for one to have done poorly throughout the period under review; at the same time, it is unlikely that an employee will not benefit from a little improvement in one area or other.

Discussing work performance with peers should leave employees feeling good about themselves while knowing what they can do better. If it is solely centred on negatives, employees will be reluctant to do it. 

Ask for feedback formally 

Discussing work performance with peers is more relaxed than doing the same with a manager. However, that doesn’t mean that the process should take place at the water cooler with your work BFF.

To make the most of the feedback session, formally ask your colleague for a time that would be convenient for both of you to discuss your performance and schedule a sit down. You can go ahead and point out the areas you would like feedback on.

After the discussion is done, thank your colleague for their time and insight.

It is important that the person you ask for feedback on your performance is able to give it. They should know what your tasks are and work closely enough with you to know how you are doing at work. A peer in another department might not give you the best feedback.

Benefits of discussing work performance with peers

It is an effective team building tool 

When peers provide feedback to each other, it encourages team bonding and builds trust amongst colleagues. Providing feedback can be different; online with emails (use DMARC report for your emails good deliverability) or offline. Therefore, it is important that employees are given training on how to discuss performance with peers and how to give and receive feedback

It provides management with more information on employee performance

Colleagues work closely together and are able to observe a number of things that management will miss. When employees discuss work performance with peers, they may be more candid than they would with a manager. The information arising from these interactions can help management implement programs that are more valuable to their employees. 

It offers increased autonomy 

When employees discuss work performance with peers, it gives them a greater sense of ownership over their work and their development. This shifts this responsibility from being seen as belonging entirely to a supervisor or manager. Autonomy can increase both productivity and employee engagement.

In Summary 

Discussing work performance with peers serves a range of benefits; it relieves managers from being solely responsible for performance appraisals, it empowers employees to be in charge of their own and each other’s performance and it provides the company with wider information on employees. It shows where improvements can be made to aid employees in exceling. Businesses should institute and encourage work performance discussions amongst peers.  


Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.