Peer Evals didn't go so well

  1. Well, we should have all known it wouldn't work from the start; but. . . We had a directive a few months ago stating our unit had to start doing peer evaluations of all unit staff (RN's, US, PCT's, management employed by our department). Our manager (whom I do respect) did apoligize at the unit meeting when she announced this saying she recognized that we didn't want to have any more paperwork to fill out related to work, but it was a mandate from on high and it had to be done. We were to give each person 2 ratings, one for clinical skills, one for interpersonal skills. It was scaled 1-5, 1=bad, 3=average, 5=excellent. They pleaded with us not to automatically grade everyone a 3, to really think these evals through and be honest and objective. Gosh, I guess I really am naive in that I just thought the biggest issue was the pain of having to fill out more paperwork.

    The eval results were tallied and everyone got a cool little "confidential" envelope showing one's individual results. Now my objective at work is to "fade into the background". I don't want to be noticed, good or bad, I just want to be known as a reliable worker and from my eval results, the few comments (few is good in my book) I got were positive. Not so for SOOOO many people in the unit. Apparently many in my unit were ripped to shreds on those evals (I tried to be innocuous on my evals, giving out few comments and only positive ones). The following note was written on the dry erase board in our breakroom (shortened and edited slightly):

    Regarding Peer Evals
    1. Obviously they didn't work. None of the comments will go on your HR file
    2. No more evals will be done until after they are discussed in a future unit meeting.
    3. No negative comments, only positive comments will be permitted on future peer evals.

    I guess I'm wondering; what was the point anyway? There are nurses who probably deserved some of the comments they received. We were also instructed that if any rating other than average was given, then one MUST comment on that evaluation. If they didn't want negative remarks, why did they even start this mess? Best I can figure is that the level of management I deal with didn't want to do this but were forced by higher-ups (probably to impress JCAHO who's always around the corner or influence a bid for magnet status).

    I guess I'm not really looking for suggestions, just venting about this incredible and hurtful waste of time and effort done at my hospital. And this is a hospital that I mostly respect (unlike many I've worked for before). Any doubt the next eval I fill out will have only "average" ratings for everyone?

    Has this process ever worked for anyone out there? I'm being serious, I might open my mouth at a unit meeting for once if I thought I had something constructive to add.
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   heartmender
    As an assistant manager in my unit we were asked to hand out peer evals as well. I cant even begin to tell you what an awful experience it was. I guess my eyes were closed to all the tension in the unit because some of the nurses were downright vicious. Many comments were harsh, unwarranted, and personal attacks. It truly came down to a popularity contest. There were some nurses that had many years of experience but they were ripped to shreds by coworkers who thought there skills lacked or that they were lazy. As a manager who keeps a close eye on the employees skills as well as their documentation I felt the employees who suffered the worst brunt of the comments often excelled in interpersonal skills and ability to make the patients happy and comfortable. Often times this is the most important skill we have. This task was meant as an excersice to help the employee focus on areas that they were weak in order to improve them, as well as to praise them for their strengths. However it didn't turn out that way. It was an utter fiasco. Instead of making this a positive experience the employees chose to be childish, inconsiderate, and above all unprofessional. :imbar Needless to say we ditched this method and are now in the process of trying to develop a new way to evaluate employees.
  4. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    Wow, sounds like the peer evals were a big mistake. Why did they ask for honest opinions if they didn't want to know what those opinions were?

    If it were me, I don't think I'd say much at the meeting, lest your co-workers think you may have made some of the comments that they're angry about. However, if all they will accept are posive comments, then it's really not an eval, is it? What's the point?
    Maybe you could voice your concerns in private w/ your boss.
    Hopefully, mgmt will learn a lesson from this
    Last edit by Hellllllo Nurse on Jul 7, '04
  5. by   hypnotic_nurse
    We do peer evals at work. It works for us for several reasons:

    1. There aren't that many of us.
    2. We all like each other.
    3. We MUST target one area for improvement and at least one strength.
    4. Only constructive criticism is allowed, no negative comments.

    Giving one area to improve is very much balanced by the strengths listed...and usually the person was pretty much aware of the weak area anyway. Having it identified by a peer as well seems to make it easier to ask for help/teaching/practice/tips.
  6. by   boggle
    Really, I don't know my coworkers well enough to write an accurate evaluation. (For that matter, the unit manager doesn't either!) We are all too busy with our assignments to spend a lot of time watching how each other works. Sure we have teamwork, help each other, rely on each other as resources, but for the most part, what we do is one on one with the patients and families. I'm not reading everyone's charting, or looking to see if their meds were given on time, or observing their techniques, or observing their patient's "satisfaction". Well, not most of the time anyway.

    I'm working!!

    Aberrant, problem staff behaviors are obvious, but that's not my problem to solve. IMHO, That's the manager's job.

    If other staff nurses are writing my evaluation based on what the see of me while waiting on line for the Med PYXIS, then I'm doomed.

    Sometimes I want to just yell to management, " Get out of my way and let me do my job!!"

    :uhoh21: :uhoh21: Oh! did I just say all that? Guess I needed to blow off some steam. I'll crawl back in my cave now, thank you.
  7. by   Spidey's mom
    I've always thought peer evals were wicked, mean and unprofessional. I refused to do any when I first started working. I think that was the first and last year they were done.

    Too many personality conflicts at work to get any objective reviews. However I can see that it might work in the example hypotic nurse gave. However those are few and far between.

    steph
  8. by   traumaRUs
    Peer evals are difficult at best, impossible at worst. I work in a very large unit (case management) but we all work very independently - I don't have a clue how the others work! Wouldn't be able to do a peer review.
  9. by   Tweety
    Some units do peer evals here. Unfortunately many immature people use it as a forum for grudges and pettiness rather than an honest evaluations. I've heard good and bad. My boss's boss does peer evals and I had the opportunity to evaluate my manager. It's a good idea if used appropriate but can cause ill will as well.

    We do self-evaluations and then the manager or charge nurses does an actual evaluation. My problem is I do evals as a charge nurse. My two CNAs with the worst rotten stinkin' attitudes gives themselves superior marks in attitude and being a team player. I laughed out loud when I read those. Funny how the people with the best attitudes were humble and gave a "meets requirements" and those who are rotten gave a "exceeds" requirements. Now I get burst their bubble and I hate it.

    It doesn't really do any good because we all get 3% raises regardless of the evaluation.
  10. by   Farkinott
    Peer evaluations just sound like an opportunity to have a go at coworkeers you don't like. I have worked in places where the boss asks you who you would like to do your evaluation. Seems to weed outh the narcky comments.
  11. by   TiffyRN
    I think I will be following Hellllllllo Nurse's advice (and my husband's) and just sit quietly during our unit meetings. I may not even attend (we have the option of just reading and signing off on the minutes). It's just sad, the whole thing, good nurses have had their feelings hurt. Nurses that maybe could use improvement are just miffed and unlikely to change anything. This wasn't the proper vehicle for change, at least not the way it was done. Thanks for everyone's input.
  12. by   mattsmom81
    This kinda stuff is ridiculous, just another demoralizing ritual nurses must go through.
    Sure glad I've never had to do this.

    Another 'popularity contest' played is the 'Nurse of the Year' award that takes place in hospitals. The nurse who got this award last year at my facility uses the F word in every other sentence and is very innappropriate in other ways too...highly unprofessional. Yet...he got the votes to 'win' the award. <sigh>
  13. by   Agnus
    It's Just MHO all revews to be considered should be signed by the reviewer. A review should never be just written. There should be a face to face verbal with the reviewer.

    Those giving reviews of thier peers should be instructed how to give a useful review.

    Instead of "critcizism" (positive or negative) it should be an evaluation with specific suggestion of how to improve in the specific area where there are short commings. If a helpful suggestion cannot be offered then the strength or shortcomming should not be brought up.

    If the peer has not previously addressed this issue with the person being evaluated then it does not belong on the review.

    If management did the review and addressed short commings that the manager did not address on the spot when they they occurred this would not hold up if the employee were for some reason challenge it in court or though some legal process. So no one should be blindsided by a peer either with short falls that were not previously addressed.

    If I am always late and you never addressed that with me and suddenly on my review you blind side me with it that is considered unfair practice. By failing to address it as it occurred you in effect endorced it and you have no right to suddenly use it against me.

    If peers are not educated in doing effective reviews they have no business doing them. Reviews should never be anonomous. Even a criminal has a legal right to face his accusers. Certainly a worker deserves at least as much.

    Anamonity does not insure honesty. Anamonity gives the coward and who would become vicious under cover of a hidden identity amnesty to be vindictive and hateful.
  14. by   TiffyRN
    Quote from Agnus
    If peers are not educated in doing effective reviews they have no business doing them. Reviews should never be anonomous. Even a criminal has a legal right to face his accusers. Certainly a worker deserves at least as much.

    Anamonity does not insure honesty. Anamonity gives the coward and who would become vicious under cover of a hidden identity amnesty to be vindictive and hateful.



    Both of these points were issues at our reviews. We were given very little instruction on how to fill these out, just what I mentioned before (must comment on anything but an average review). Also the comment spot provided was very small, maybe would fit 15-20 words if one wrote very small. So providing constructive criticism with a plan on how to improve would have been challenging in that space. Of course after the fact all the management is saying that they TOLD us to only include negative comments if we had gone to that person first. NOT, gosh I wish I had saved the written instructions we were given on filling those out. And yes, our reviews were anonymous. I go back to work Friday and it should be interesting to see how things are shaking out after a full week.

    Thanks for your responses and for reading, letting me vent. Getting to vent here will let me keep my head more level and my mouth well under control.

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