How to give feedback to peers

How to give feedback to peers

by Kandice Head


Published on 02.18.2020

Peer-to-peer feedback creates a culture of shared responsibility, self-organization, teamwork, employee engagement, and accountability. However, without mutual trust, specificity, and positive intention, this form of feedback can be challenging.

In order to build and maintain the best working relationships possible, in peer-to-peer feedback, it is important to be aware of the team’s goals, know the personality of the person you’re offering feedback to, and have an overall sense of direction for next steps.

The following are 4 ways that OKRs can lay the foundation for a culture of effective and positive peer-to-peer feedback.

4 ways to use OKRs for peer-to-peer feedback:

1. OKRs outline the goals of the team. Each workday comes with its own set of challenges and no two days are the same. However, it is easier to hold others accountable to their roles within a team when there is a shared mission and a clear set of goals to follow and track. The Objective and Key Results framework, which encourages everyone to publicly post their OKRs, places everyone at the same starting line, offering a transparent way to communicate high-level priorities and goals (referred to as objectives) as well as clear action items or tactics to achieving each objective (key results). Providing feedback is a more streamlined experience when you can evaluate whether or not the objective was accomplished and dig further to discuss why or why not.

Anchoring conversations in OKRs ensures conversations, where participants have differing points of view, are not monopolized by arbitrary factors such as seniority or subjective feelings. In other words, OKRs ensure that conversations focus more on the work to be done than comments about personal traits. When reviewing OKRs, it becomes easier to center feedback on what was learned rather than singling people out for mistakes.

2. OKRs help establish mutual trust. Until a positive working relationship develops, feedback can sometimes be perceived as a personal attack. Trust is a core element of any feedback process no matter if it is from peer to peer, manager to employee, or employee to manager. OKRs help establish trust between peers not only by encouraging empowerment but also by creating an environment of transparency—where discussing progress (or lack thereof) is a community norm. From identifying areas they may be overlooking or sharing a potential resource, to discussing how to pivot to a more effective strategy to reach the objective, OKRs create a culture of organic assessment. Regularly practicing sharing where you are (as well as listening to where your peers are) can be hugely rewarding in terms of building mutual trust.

3. OKRs build productive conversations. Objectives and key results are more than a formula to follow, they are an entire framework that includes a system of interactions around them. A core component of that system is CFRs—which is short for Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition. CFRs create a space for more direct questions and feedback and keep the dialogue focused on work and changing inputs and outputs. They naturally limit common misunderstandings caused by poorly phrased feedback. Well-written OKRs streamline CFR sessions and are a productive complement to the OKR process. CFRs and OKRs together are known as Continuous Performance Management.

4. OKRs help identify the next steps. Rolling out OKRs lays the groundwork for a productive, goal-oriented work culture that makes the review process less personal. With a clearly defined vision, feedback becomes fluid and transparent when reviewing the objectives, assessing whether or not they were met, and evaluating why or why not and adjusting direction in light of what learning comes about.

Peer-to-peer feedback offers additional insight, ideas and perspectives that are invaluable to the team. If given properly, peer feedback can transform companies and organizations for the better. OKRs can certainly help ease the feedback process by adding structure, alignment, and accountability.

Where can I get more information?

To learn more about OKRs, be sure to check out the helpful FAQs, Resources, and Stories here on WhatMatters.com.

Or, if you're looking for an OKR coach, check this out.

Kandice Head (@KandyLanae) is a communications specialist and storyteller who writes for WhatMatters.com.


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