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14 Effective Tips to Give And Receive Peer Feedback

 

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Peer feedback, or the art of evaluating your colleague's performance, has vast potential for change and improvement, but only if done correctly.

Giving feedback to your peers can be a daunting task. How do you give criticism without coming across as negative or condescending? How do you give praise and sound genuine? It’s important to give feedback that is both honest and constructive, and it can be difficult to find the right balance.

According to Gallup, only 14.5 % of managers strongly agree that they know how to give effective feedback. If that's true for the managers, imagine what it feels like for other team members, who may have even less experience with evaluating others.

 However, there are some frameworks and tips that can help make peer feedback more effective. In this blog post, we will explore some of the best ways to give peer feedback. We will also provide a framework that you can use to structure your feedback in a way that is helpful and actionable. By the end of this post, you should have a better understanding of how to give peer feedback that is both meaningful and impactful.

What is peer feedback?

Giving Feedback statistic

Peer feedback is the act of giving constructive feedback to a colleague or a teammate, someone who is at the same level as you in the organization hierarchy-wise. The purpose of peer feedback is to help the individual receiving the feedback improve their performance or behavior.

Giving feedback to a peer is different from being a manager giving feedback to a subordinate. The power dynamics are different. You may want to give feedback because it is important to the team, but at the same time, you don't want to step on anybody's toes or hurt their feelings. But how do you do it?

Giving and receiving peer feedback can be a great way to improve your team's performance. It can help you identify areas where your team can improve and make sure everyone is on the same page. Giving feedback can also be a good way to build trust within your team.

How to give and receive peer feedback effectively

Giving feedback to a peer can be tricky- on one hand, you want to be honest about what you see and how you feel, but on the other hand, you don't want to hurt their feelings or damage your working relationship. 

In order to give and receive peer feedback effectively, it is important to first create a safe and open environment in which teammates feel comfortable sharing honest feedback with one another. Once this foundation has been established, there are a few key tips to keep in mind when receiving feedback.

Like any other type of feedback in the workplace, it should be timely, direct, specific, helpful, and encouraging.

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Here are our 14 top tips to give and receive peer feedback:

1. Clear goal. Make sure you're giving feedback for the right reasons. When giving peer feedback, it is important to remember that the goal is to help the person receiving the feedback improve their performance. Feedback should be given to help improve the team's performance, not to point out someone's personal shortcomings. 

2. Permission. Make sure you have permission from the person you will be giving feedback to before proceeding.

3. Open-minded. Be open to hearing feedback yourself. The goal is to help improve the individual’s performance, not to put them down. Try to remain open-minded and avoid getting defensive. It can be difficult to hear and give criticism, but it is important to remember that feedback is meant to be constructive and not personal. Remember that the goal is to improve the team's performance, not to put anyone down.

4. Timely. Choose a time when both parties are free from distractions and can focus on the conversation.

5. Private. Try to give and receive feedback in a private setting. This will help create an open and safe environment for honest communication.

6. Behavior-focused. Focus on the behavior, not the person. Stick to facts and observable behavior. For example, rather than saying “you’re lazy,” try “I noticed that you didn’t take the initiative to work on that project."

7. Specific. Try to give specific examples rather than general comments. For example, instead of saying "you're always late," say "I noticed you were 10 minutes late to our meeting on Wednesday." Vague comments will not be helpful and may even cause confusion.

8. Bias awareness. Be aware of your own biases and how they might be affecting your perception of the situation.

Bias Awareness Cross Cultural Intelligence

9. Questions. Ask questions to clarify the situation and ensure that your feedback is based on accurate information. Favor open-ended questions. If you are receiving peer feedback, ask clarifying questions if you are unsure about something. This shows that you are receptive to the feedback and want to ensure that you understand it correctly.

10. "I" statements. Use “I” statements to avoid coming across as confrontational. For example, rather than saying “you need to do this differently,” try “I think it would be helpful if you did this differently.” Or instead of saying "you're not listening to me," say "I feel like I'm not being heard."

11. Two-ways. Allow the person receiving feedback to respond to your comments. They may have information that you are not aware of which changes your perspective on the situation.

12. Cross-cultural communication. Consider cross-cultural differences. Peer feedback may not look the same in Germany, the United States, India, or Israel. Your style may be perceived as too direct and harsh or too ambiguous by others. Become familiar with your peer's communication style and adapt to it. 

13. Focus on solutions. Offer suggestions for improvement. For example, instead of saying "you need to do more research," say "maybe we can set aside some time before our next meeting to do some research together.

14. Thank each other. Thank your teammate for their feedback. This helps create a positive feedback loop in which teammates feel appreciated and more likely to continue giving honest feedback in the future.

Mistakes to watch out for when giving peer feedback

Effective peer feedback is not only about following a series of tips, but also about avoiding some common mistakes:

  1. Avoid giving criticism that is not constructive. If you're just going to say something negative without offering a solution, then it's better to keep quiet.
  2. Avoid giving criticism that is vague or personal in nature.
  3. Avoid making assumptions about someone’s intentions. For example, rather than saying “you did that on purpose,” try “I noticed that happened. Can you tell me more about what was going through your mind at the time?"
  4. Avoid using terms like "always" and "never." For example, instead of saying "you never cooperate," say "I feel like we're not working effectively."
  5. Be aware of your tone. Avoid sounding judgmental, condescending, or angry. Instead, try to sound supportive and positive. However, if you are on the receiving end, focus on the content of the feedback rather than the delivery. If someone's delivery is not ideal, try to look past that and focus on the message they are trying to communicate.
  6. If you are the one receiving feedback, avoid making assumptions about someone’s intentions.

Conclusion

Giving feedback to your peers can be a daunting task, but it's important to do it effectively in order to help them improve. By using the right framework and following these tips, you can make sure that your peer feedback is constructive and helpful. With practice, giving feedback will become easier and more natural for you. Soon enough, you'll be an expert at giving feedback that leads to positive results.

If your peers come from different countries and cultural backgrounds, work on your Cultural Intelligence (CQ). If you are interested in learning the nuances of cross-cultural communication, Erin Meyer explains it masterfully in her book The Culture Map. If you are serious about bridging language and culture gaps in your organization, Talaera can help. Our experienced instructors specialize in cross-cultural communication and will be able to help you and your teams work more effectively and united.

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