Flipping reviews: Addressing the threat of real-time peer to peer feedback

Empowerment under review

Think about consumer review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, or Google and you’ll see a familiar pattern; they all empower the reviewer, not the subject of the review.

They amplify the voice of the reviewer to a wide audience, and in so doing elevate social standing of the reviewer regardless of the facts of a situation.

They use psychology around the need for validation through features like helpful counters, ‘reactions’, and upvotes so that the review itself can be tacitly approved by complete strangers, all in the public arena.

Any right to reply by the subject of public review is a lame countermeasure. When mud is slung, most of the time it sticks.

HRTech has generally followed, rather than challenged this model of crowdsourced review.

In the workplace many next generation review platforms take the same approach, sporting public leader boards, public feeds, points systems, review history on display, and reviewer awarded badges. All of this effectively empowering the reviewers’ voice to be amplified, often with the added protection of anonymity.

These techniques are fundamentally flawed when it comes to maintaining psychological safety of the employee who is the subject of public review or feedback.

Flipping this model around and empowering the subject of the review, not the reviewer, is a better model to apply in any workplace with a focus on mental health.

Pre-requisites of a psychologically safe real-time review

There are a number of mechanisms that can create safety for people who may find themselves the subject of real-time review;

  1. Strictly no public display or sharing by reviewers of individual reviews and feedback. Keep it between the reviewer, the person being reviewed and their leader.
  2. Steer clear of comparison to others (league tables) to avoid creating winners and losers
  3. Avoid ratings (even pseudo-ratings like badges) unless these are based on some kind of rubric. You’re playing to rater bias and opinionistic review rather than observation otherwise
  4. Discourage or disallow anonymous review. Keep the accountability on the reviewer for the authenticity of their observations
  5. Enable interaction in a system of record where the reviewer and subject can dialogue a review in private without the possibility of a sly BCC that comes with an email interaction, or the selective memory that comes with no record at all
  6. Emphasise self-initiated review to remove the element of surprise and possibility of ambush. Requests allow signals to be targeted to a precise time of need and area of need
  7. Allow flagging and escalation of abuse by recipients 
  8. Use AI and Machine Learning to identify pockets of bias, bullying, negative sentiment, inclusion/eclusion, and to keep balance

When you empower the recipient and create psychological safety for them, their neurological response is different than when under threat of an empowered reviewer.

Instead of fight or flight signals you’re triggering learning signals from adjusting feedback, and pleasure receptors from gratitude and praise.

The resulting sense of progress and belonging will do more to keep your people engaged, loyal and well over the long term than any extrinsic benefits you can offer.

Needless to say, the Pay Compliment platform has all of these safety features built in.

You have nothing to lose, so get in touch to give it a flipping try.

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