Crowdsourcing Feedback: It May Be the Answer to Performance Reviews


How do you feel about performance reviews?

Personally, I think the annual performance review (as most commonly implemented) is broken. It’s too infrequent, too fraught with anxiety and fear (for the manager as well as the employee), and too ineffective at doing what it is supposed to do – deliver solid, actionable praise and feedback on employee performance for a year’s worth of work (not just the work completed within the last week or so).

What’s the solution? I recently shared two case studies from companies that kicked the annual review to the kerb quite successfully. But the answer really isn’t as simple as that.

A new way to approach feedback and performance

One benefit of the annual review is it forces managers to have conversations with employees about their work. But everyone hates and dreads them. And if you go into a meeting full of fear, dread and hate, are you really in any position to hear what is being said in a constructive way?

Of course not. Several peers of mine from various organizations providing HR services chimed in on this topic in an article appearing today from SHRM: “Inviting the Masses to Rate Employee Performance.” (Membership required for access)

In the article I argue in favor of crowdsourcing feedback and performance, commenting:

It’s hard to see the downside to crowdsourcing because it’s tremendously important to give employees a voice.

Another commenter voiced concern about inappropriate comments and passive-aggressive behavior, but I don’ think this should preclude people from considering crowdsourcing feedback. As I say in the article: “It’s the same as inappropriate comments in an email or team meeting. There are HR processes for people who don’t act with integrity.”

It’s not 360 feedback

This idea is very different from 360 degree feedback, a difference aptly explained by Scott Erker, senior vice president of DDI:

360 is a single point in time and is typically structured around a competency model. People answer questions only in that structure. It’s a process that sits in a box. Crowdsourcing, on the other hand, is always on, every day, and it lacks structure. It’s going to be much more organic.”

How do you get to crowdsourcing feedback and performance?

Social performance management is an important factor, allowing anyone – peers, colleagues and managers alike – to share their detailed feedback and praise on the achievements and behaviors of their fellow employees. Folding this informal crowd-sourced feedback into more formal processes is the trick that brings value and insight into the true performance of employees.

Do you see a place for crowdsourcing feedback or do you prefer the more formal annual review process?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

  • Steve Hunt

    I completely agree with the need for more active, ongoing feedback about performance.  But the  current trend calling for companies to abolish consistent, rigorous performance reviews and replace them with either a. nothing or b.loosely structure reviews such as crowdsourcing misses the point.  We need both ongoing informal feedback and well defined methods for formally evaluating performance.  And most companies don’t do either one of these particularly well. 

    We probably do need more use of social technology in the workplace, but the move to replace well-defined performance review processes with poorly defined social methods for collecting peer input is a dangerous one.  Employees have long had a term for describing companies that make decisions affecting pay and promotions that are based on unstructured comments made by their peers in an offhand way – its called “politics”, and I don’t mean the good kind. 


  • joanncorley

    If you only talk to your team members once a year about their “perfomance” …that manager is not managing…not coaching and not facilitating behavior to impact outcomes and ultimately a company’s bottom line.