Electronic Performance Appraisals: Peer Review, Upward Review, 360 or Multi Rater. What’s the difference?

Posted by Aaron • November 24, 2015 (Last modified July 29, 2018) • 3 min read

When it come to electronic performance appraisals you may have seen the options to include a peer review, upward review, 360 review or Multi Rater. Here’s our take on what each means and why you may use them.

What’s the difference? And Why?

So much jargon. Let’s clear this up, once and for all. That way, we can make a choice as to what’s going to be the best fit for our company; and perhaps more important, our culture.

Peer Review

Many times, feedback is best received when given by those who are in the same shoes; who are in the same position as the employee being appraised. Peer reviews can give you insight to what comparable employees think of the appraised, and provide more understanding of the position itself. Entrepreneur Magazine says If used in the proper culture, peer reviews “can provide important insight into how employees interact with each other, including employees who have quietly emerged as leaders within the ranks without the accompanying formal title.”

Upward Review

Best used when the person being appraised has a position with a large team. When your employee’s main responsibilities are driving results from others, or helping improve their own team’s productivity, an invaluable resource is the honest opinions from the team that’s being managed. Without anonymity, they are likely to curb their answers, so make sure you use a tool with anonymity options (like Trakstar!).

 360 Feedback

Imagine yourself in the middle of a circle. That circle is your organization. You’ve got managers above you, employees who report to you, visualized below you. You have people who are considered peers, to your right and left. 360 feedback is gained from all directions in that circle, providing a balanced review, and valuable insight from every work relationship that the employee has. There are plenty of reasons why 360 reviews can fail, but when used intentionally, it can be a powerful tool.

Multi Rater

This is a one-size-fits-all solution that doesn’t rely on one kind of feedback, but rather offers a suite of tools to provide multiple ratings from different sources, all on the same appraisal; hence, Multi Rater. Within some tools, including Trakstar, you can provide feedback from another source completely as explained in the outside respondent section below.

Outside Respondent

For positions like Vendor Manager and Sales Rep, or anything where your employee is actively working with others outside your company as a main part of their job. Perhaps they worked with a partner company on a project and you need feedback from the partner company; with proper tools, you can learn about the employee’s work on a single project in more detail by providing a way for your partners to chime in about the work done by your team.


Managers own the review. Employees have insight into their own experience. But hearing how the employee impacts your workplace and the people they work with can give you a balanced set of opinions, are much more clarity on your employee’s performance.

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