PLI Blog 8-6-18:  7 ways That Peer Learning Groups Develop Managers

“If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.”

  • Lew Platt, Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard

Managers have a great deal of knowledge and experience that for many reasons often goes unshared and unrecognized as an important organizational asset.

Managers may be unaware of the value of the tacit knowledge that they have accumulated. They may not have opportunities to share what they know with their peers and make their experience available to others. Organizational silos and weak cross-department communication can make this difficult, especially when the organizational culture fosters competition instead of collaboration. Managers may fear that if they share what they know, they may weaken their position in the organization. New managers may feel that they are too young or inexperienced to have something to offer. More experienced managers may worry about being perceived as arrogant or a ‘know-it-all’. Lack of psychological safety and freedom to speak up may limit knowledge sharing and collaborative learning. People may be hesitant to share what they know for fear that they may be punished, judged and criticized for what they say in public.

When managers choose not to share what they know, they lose opportunities for professional growth- for themselves and for their peers. However, when peer learning and coaching are organized in a safe and structured way, this can dramatically improve collaboration between managers and facilitate knowledge sharing. Meeting in small peer learning groups, that operate according to defined and accepted rules, can create a safe space for discussing management challenges and finding creative ways to solve them.

Peer learning groups, in which managers share their knowledge and experience and gain new skills in brief self-directed onsite sessions, can provide ongoing management development.

Peer learning groups:

  1. Provide the psychological safety and freedom for managers to openly share both successes and failures.
  2. Tap into the knowledge and skills that managers have but are underutilized.
  3. Generate new knowledge and skills through lateral learning between peers.
  4. Help managers translate previous general learning so that it is consistent with the organization’s culture.
  5. Build on prior learning in the work environment for improved performance and productivity.
  6. Fulfill learning needs to meet immediate management challenges and deliver real world application opportunities.
  7. Create an opportunity to reflect on what works, what doesn’t work- and how to fix it.

Peer learning groups have many advantages over traditional methods of training. Only 10% of knowledge is acquired through formal training, while 90% comes from learning on the job and learning from peers. Peer learning is dynamic, relevant, immediately applicable, and based within the context of the organization. It is always available, since the knowledge and skills of peers can be accessed at any time.

Peer learning, and peer learning groups, are the future of management and leadership development. Tapping into the wealth of knowledge that your managers have and turning it into a knowledge asset for your organization through peer learning and sharing will increase productivity and efficiency.To determine if your managers would benefit from participating in a peer learning group, please see http://www.peerlearninginstitute.com.

In reflection,

Deb and Peter

Deborah Laurel is the Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer of the Peer Learning Institute that helps managers increase performance, productivity and customer satisfaction through peer learning and knowledge sharing. Peter Korynski is the Co-Founder and Chief Program Officer of the Peer Learning Institute. For more information, please visit http://www.peerlearninginstitute.com.

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