December 10, 2018

101: Peer learning

Business training sessions, whether for cybersecurity policy, new technology, sales practices or customer service, can be hosted by software companies, corporate leaders or outsourced experts. But sometimes, as a manager, those experts are right under your nose. Here are a few thoughts on peer-to-peer learning.

Peer learning motivates. When top performers share with lower performers how they handle certain situations, it motivates the lower performers to step up their game, says "Consider it a form of positive peer pressure. Or better yet, peer production … group improvement resulting from peer-production promotes a healthy sales organization where growth is encouraged."

Peer learning should be an organized effort. An organized framework with all team members onboard, including upper leadership, will help promote user engagement and create accountability. "Show your executives why peer learning is effective and worthwhile through data and research," says Karen Minicozzi at She advises setting up a governance committee; processes by which employees can create content to share, such as videos, which are aligned with broader company objectives; and assign a committee or person to identify company experts.

Peer learning generates other benefits, such as building employees' leadership skills by delivering and accepting feedback. "Because feedback flows in both directions, participants … think from the perspective of their peer, consider where each is coming from, and try to get specific about what will be most helpful and constructive. This doesn't happen as often when a boss delivers one-way feedback to employees," write Kelly Palmer and David Blake at Harvard Business Review. All these benefits help productivity and the company overall.


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