Let’s Talk: How Peer Feedback Drives Workplace Productivity

There is nothing worse than a tattletale. In the workplace, this is when a colleague doesn’t like what you’re doing, and he or she gives your boss feedback, and your boss gives this feedback to you. Seems a little roundabout, right?

I’ve experienced this third-party feedback in previous positions – never face-to-face, always behind-the-back. When it happens to me, I get frustrated. After the frustration wanes, I’ll typically approach the person who gave the original feedback to gather additional details. As part of the conversation, I always ask that person to feel free to provide feedback to me directly, in the moment, when they see an improvement I need to make.

Today, many of us spend very little time with our direct managers at work. In fact, my direct manager probably only sees 10 percent of the work I am doing. I work on a large number of cross-functional teams and with other organizational leaders on a daily basis. I call my peers at Globoforce my “Globofamily,” where I can be my authentic self with each and every one of them. I trust them to provide me good feedback which lifts me up and helps me grow.

Feedback is critical to company growth and individual performance. Frankly, someone telling my manager how I’m doing – instead of coming directly to me – puts me into fight or flight mode. It impacts the relationship I had with the person, since I wonder why they felt the need to go behind my back. And my manager has little idea of what I am working on, so as part of the process, I have to bring him up to speed on the context and background. None of this is productive.

How do I prefer to receive feedback? Directly, from the people I actually work with and trust. As someone who is looking to learn and grow, I prefer to ask people for feedback on how I am doing. If I’m working on my marketing skills, I’ll ask my peers from product marketing on how I am doing positioning to customers. When I am on a sales call, I’ll ask the lead salesperson how I presented the product via the demo. These are the people I have a relationship with and trust.

And asking for feedback directly from peers has been proven to impact not just productivity:

  • Peer-to-peer relationships improve
  • Employees get solid feedback in areas they specifically want to improve
  • Employees drive their own learning and development
  • Neither party feels threatened
  • Feedback happens more regularly and in-the-moment

Feedback can be difficult to request and to give. The people I ask for feedback are ones who I have given recognition to in the past, and vise-versa. They are the ones who know my authentic self where I am comfortable – I am at times vulnerable and not perfect.

The feedback I’ve received from my peers has typically been on target and specific. I have been able to incorporate the feedback immediately into my daily job. Since I started asking for feedback from my peers, instead of relying on my manager to give it, I have grown more professionally.

Let’s remove the concept of tattle-taling from the workplace. A continuous performance improvement solution will support the speed of business by aligning priorities, allowing course-corrections between managers and employees, fostering learning, and improving trust. Create a more purposeful, connected workplace through real-time conversations.

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