Formal versus Informal Peer Reviews

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Formal versus Informal Peer Reviews
David Harland, Member
I have been fortunate enough to work for a number of organisations where we used peer reviews.
In one we used a system of FORMAL and rigorous peer review.
These formal peer reviews for me and most of my colleagues took a while to do well and to be comfortable with, but we all benefited. The purpose, and everyone understood it, was to help us produce the best products we could. The process of formal review taught the participants a lot about cooperation and its benefits, and also a great deal about themselves.

What I realised was that in previous firms, where I really enjoyed working, although we did not use a formal process, we were also engaged in an INFORMAL process of peer review, peer engagement and mutual assistance. Turns out this informal level of peer engagement is the most highly correlated behaviour linked with success (J.R. Hackman).

Informal Peer Engagement Process
Marl van der Toorn, Moderator
Hi David, thanks for your interesting posting.
Realising that an informal process does not have a fixed structure, how do you go about creating such an informal engagement process. What initial steps could be taken? WHAT IN YOUR EXPERIENCE WORKS BEST?

Outcome of Informal Peer Reviews
James Antwi, Premium Member
Hi David, thanks for your posting which is very interesting. Yes I agree that we engage in informal peer reviews now and then sometimes without even realising or recognising the outcome of such engagements - which may often be seen as jokes.
Drawing from experience, how can the OUTCOMES OF INFORMAL PEER REVIEWS be recognised as real?

We Need to Consider the Cost Benefits of 360s
Tim Dibble, Member
360's and peer reviews do take quite a bit of time.
How do you best manage THE COST OF ALL THAT time against the perceived benefit? Is there a marked accuracy in the reviews or happiness of the employees?
How do you motivate reviewers to provide honest feedback rather than glowing superlatives in a tit-for-tat backslapping?

Formal Versus Informal Peer Reviews
The peer-appraisal method provides us a close look into an employee’s performance, by evaluating the opinions of work colleagues rather than by his manager (alone). The method of testing this way is an informal peer review while the formal appraisal method concerns with the manager.
The organization success depends on employee we should remember always.

Peer Review… It's About Trust
David Harland, Member
In the beginning, the collaborative review process and its informality emerged by virtue of the surrounding context. This was in the early 80s, We were a small and young team (under 30) working in a largely autonomous division of a big multi-national. As a unit, it was a small business, a couple of hundred people.
Over the 7 years I was there and it grew to around 900 and had moved to purpose-built premises. For many of us, it was our first management position. We were all learning. We all made mistakes, we relied on each other, we trusted each other. There was a real sense of what we were doing was right for the business. There was little in the way of office politics or hidden agendas.
SURE WE HAD OUR DISAGREEMENTS. BUT IT WAS NEVER PERSONAL. If someone came up with a proposal that was below par we didn't make accusations against the person we tried to make the proposal better.
It was never about being the best it was always about doing better than we did previously.

One or the Other, Neither?
Chris Hoe, Member
In my opinion, you need BOTH. Formal, periodic one(s), and informal, friendly continuous reviews for continuous development & improvement.

Peer Review not Appraisal
David Harland, Member
Just to be clear, I'm not talking about manager staff relationship or performance appraisal. I'm specifically talking about PEER REVIEW OF WORK PRODUCT IN order to deliver the best possible outcome.

Peer Review is a Feed Back
anwer abdalla mohammed abubakr, Member
Encouraging employee empowerment is not contradicting with the evaluation of the outcome. There has to be some intended improvement, without that there is no quality.

Peer Review is not Quality
Tim Dibble, Member
@Anwer abdalla Mohammed abubakr: Quality assurance is making a product to a customer's specification. The purpose of peer review in this case is to a subjective standard (i.e. several voices can speak as to the customer's expectation). That is not peer review of performance or quality, rather the APPLICATION OF DIFFERING OPINIONS.

Formal Evaluation, Open Review and Informal Intimate Feedback
Chris Hoe, Member
An example of a FORMAL review is a yearly larger open appraisal of the products (incl services) offered by the company. It may include a recognition and award for the best product, idea and contribution.
An example of an INFORMAL review is a weekly casual and intimate gathering of the team in the tearoom to brainstorm pros and cons of one's products and to monitor and checkpoint each other's progress and development in a friendly, non-intimidating setting.
I can understand why the latter is most effective - it is continuous, nurturing collegiality.
The formal one can also be powerful, because it champions competition and (re)cognises champions.


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