Leveraging Traditional Training with Workplace Peer Learning

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“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” Anton Chekhov

Training: A Sudden Spike of Information

Many organizations use traditional training methods (such as classroom, e-learning and blended learning) for their management development and leadership development programs. The training most likely focuses on general theoretical content. If the training method is participant-based and interactive, it may also include time for the managers to practice their new learning once or possibly twice during the course of the training.

However, the new behaviors won’t solidify and become second nature with such limited practice. There isn’t time in most training programs for the managers to test their new learning and, through trial and error, slowly build it into their repertoire. That will only occur if the managers have sufficient confidence in their ability and use what they learned in their daily work activities.

What Happens After the Training Program is Over?

Research has shown that the ability to retain a lot of knowledge in a short period of time is limited if it’s not reviewed and put into practice immediately. Typically, after 1 hour, training participants lose 50% of information presented. Within 24 hours, they will have forgotten an average of 70% of new information, and within a week, they will have forgotten an average of 90% of it. This means that 90% of the initial investment is lost and the potentially valuable knowledge forgotten because it was never put into practice.

To retain new knowledge and salvage the investment, companies may want to create an immediate expansion program that will help the participants integrate their new information and ideas into their daily workplace.

Create a Retainment Mechanism

If all of the organization’s managers attended the same training, they can provide peer support to each other. They now share a common language to use as they try to understand and apply the general content they received to the specific realities of their daily work lives. If only a few managers attended the management development program, they are likely to have less support from their peers who did not attend.

In both instances, it would be helpful if the managers could focus in and practice targeted new behaviors aimed at specific real work problems.

How Peer Learning Groups Can Support Knowledge Application

This is where peer learning groups can be most helpful, while integrating seamlessly with prior training programs. The Peer Learning Institute’s structured peer learning groups give managers the opportunity to share what they’ve learned and take a deeper dive into a management topic of their choice.

It also reinforces their new learning with a month of practice supported by peer learning partners, microlearning tips and personal logs. That practice month allows them to test their new behaviors and build confidence in their newly acquired competence. This way they slowly incorporate the new behavior into their daily work lives. They then return for the second session to engage in a structured dialogue about their experience, what they learned, and how they plan to continue using their new skills.

Reinforcing Experience and Behavior

Christopher Lind, although not specifically highlighting peer learning groups, summarizes their benefit beautifully (I have added the emphasis):

What we want people to get better at is actually doing the behavior in practice, not just in principle.” From experiential, peer-to-peer learning to interacting with online courses, input and dialogue reinforces both experience and behavior. That practical application, as part of a personal and tailored training journey, is the path to accelerated and repeatable new results.”

Peer learning groups are the answer to the need for additional practical application of new skills learned in traditional training programs. They build on what the managers have learned, help them focus in more deeply on a specific management challenge, and get the reinforced practice they need to add their new behavior to their management toolkit.

For more information about how peer learning groups can be integrated into your current management development training, schedule a call with one of our training specialists: https://calendly.com/peerlearninginstitute/

Deborah Laurel, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer

The Peer Learning Institute


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