Peer review is a legitimate and potentially effective weapon in your annual employee evaluation arsenal.
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Although it's not appropriate for annual reviews to consist solely of peer-based evaluations, peer reviews can provide valuable insights about your employees' daily performance and provide a basis for higher-level reviews from company managers.
The best peer review processes integrate a combination of objective performance criteria and subjective personal insights. You'll need to find a way to minimize the potential for the review process to be tainted by personal relationships, but if it's done right peer review can give you a more accurate picture of an employee's performance than you are capable of generating from your role as the business owner.
Annual peer review forms create a standard process for peer review. By providing reviewers with an adequate evaluation tool, you introduce elements of fairness and consistency into the process. Good annual peer review forms vary in content, but should include some of the following elements.
- Rating scale. Ratings scales theoretically standardize the review process by assigning uniform responses to evaluation questions. Scales should provide numbers that correlate to a spectrum of quality statements. More than five ratings is overkill, so keep it simple.
- Job performance. Reviewers should be asked to evaluate their coworker's job performance with the understanding that they may only be capable of reviewing a part of the individual's overall job activities. If necessary, you may need to have multiple reviewers for workers with unrelated job functions.
- Personal values. Is the individual honest? Does she treat her coworkers fairly? Is she respectful of everyone in the workplace? Business owners rarely have access to granular insights of all their employees' personal values. Coworkers can provide a more comprehensive picture.
- Team values. Peer reviews should also include questions about how well the individual works in a team environment. If the employee does not work well in a collaborative, team environment, you need to know about it – and peer reviews are a great tool for turning up the information you need to thoroughly evaluate their teamwork skills.
- Reviewer comments. In addition to several sections of rating-based questions, leave room for reviewers to make comments about their peers. Comment sections are often the most revealing part of peer review forms and can provide contextual insights about the employee's overall job performance.