Peer reviewers take on a consultative role throughout the review process, addressing both strengths and challenges that a candidate program may have in each of the core domains. You will be using your skills to help programs identify options and to suggest recommendations for change.
On the Peer Review Site Visit
Remember that when you are conducting a site visit, you are not there to inspect but rather to consult. The review process should be educative and exploratory but never punitive.
It is important to set a positive and proactive tone from the beginning to counter the inevitable degree of nervousness and anxiety from those connected to the visited organization. You can do this by establishing a friendly, direct, “one peer to another” style. This also underscores a parallel process, in which your role as a peer is reflective of peer programs in general. You can promote dialogue by asking questions and let them do the talking. Assuming a strength-based approach will highlight what they are doing correctly before you begin suggesting improvements. Avoid making direct comparisons to how things are done in your organization. An alternative lead-in might sound like, “I’ve seen a number of organizations do it this way…” or “ Other organizations have resolved this issue by…”
Even in your friendly, consultative role, you need to set appropriate boundaries. Take good interview notes and explain that this is to ensure accuracy. You can avoid becoming too familiar by staying focused on how the organization is meeting the program standards. Keep an open mind, realizing that there are many ways in which an organization can meet the standards. In your discussions, give them a menu of choices to consider, rather than a single “correct” way to approach a situation. In the course of your conversations throughout the day, be sure to voice your recommendations. This will encourage buy-in and eliminate any surprises or “zingers” during the exit interview.