How to write a performance review for a coworker you don’t know

Nov 27, 2023

How to write a performance review for a coworker you don’t know

Peer reviews can be helpful, but what if you don’t know them?


  1. Start with Positive Observations

  2. Highlight Peer-level Contributions

  3. Provide Measurable Outcomes

  4. Acknowledge Their Role and Responsibilities

  5. Tie Their Work to Company Goals

  6. Suggest Areas for Development

Giving a performance review for a lesser-known coworker might seem tricky, but it's an opportunity to show a peer’s perspective of your coworker instead of a top down view. Here are a few practical tips for giving feedback that is useful and constructive.

  1. Start with Positive Observations

Begin the review by highlighting positive observations about your coworker's performance. This could include their contributions to team projects, their work ethic, or any positive interactions you've witnessed. You can even mention any observable soft skills, such as communication, collaboration, or problem-solving abilities. Even without direct interaction, you may have noticed these skills in public channels or group settings.

  1. Highlight Peer-level Contributions

Emphasize tangible contributions that may not be visible to higher ups, even if you haven't directly collaborated with them. This could include successful project outcomes, initiatives they've led, or any positive impact they've made within the team. As a peer, you may see things your coworker does that management never sees or undervalues. This is precisely why peer reviews are so valuable because of the opportunity to give a well-rounded perspective on their performance.

  1. Provide Measurable Outcomes

Anytime you can state hard data or numbers, do it! Quantifiable metrics add depth and credibility to their achievements, and is instantly impressive. Whether it's highlighting a percentage increase in project efficiency, the number of bugs resolved, or the tangible impact on key performance indicators, incorporating measurable outcomes transforms abstract accomplishments into concrete, compelling evidence of their contributions to the team's success.

  1. Acknowledge Their Role and Responsibilities

It’s important to acknowledge the role and responsibilities of your coworker within the team or organization to show where your evaluation is coming from. This way, the reviewer will take your perspective into consideration to frame your review based on your understanding. Most likely, your peer review will only be one aspect of their performance review, so this is helpful to align your perspective with expectations.

  1. Tie Their Work to Company Goals

Whether it’s soft skills or tangible work, talk about how their contributions have positively impacted team projects, department objectives, or even the overall mission of the company. A vital part of any review is to align achievements with the broader goals of the company plus this underscores your awareness of the company's strategic objectives as well.

  1. Suggest Areas for Development

In providing feedback for a coworker you don't know well, it's essential to approach areas for improvement with sensitivity. Rather than focusing on perceived weaknesses, suggest areas for development that align with the broader goals of the team or organization. For instance, if there's an opportunity to enhance a specific skill set relevant to their role, frame it as a pathway for professional growth.

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