People ask us, and rightly so, how can you tell if a peer learning group is successful. There are three ways to interpret this question. First, was the peer learning group experience successful? Second, did the peer learning group process result in managerial changes for the better? Third, does the organization benefit from the peer learning group experience? Let’s take each in turn.
What is the Peer Learning Group Process?
The Peer Learning Group Process involves peer learning groups of six managers who share the same management challenge and meet together for two 90-minute sessions separated by a month of practice. During that time, they collaborate to share knowledge and learn new techniques, test those techniques as part of their daily job responsibilities, reflect on their practice experience, and commit to continuing to use their new techniques in the future.
Was the Peer Learning Group Experience Successful?
The end goal of the Peer Learning Group Program© is for the managers to have new techniques that they have tested and plan to use to manage challenging workplace situations. We also want them to better collaborate with their peers and feel secure enough to reach out to peers for help when needed.
We can rely on the individual group member’s assessments, comparing how they rated their effectiveness before the first session and after the second session.
After the first session, we can ask the managers:
- What did you gain from the sharing experience at the beginning of the session?
- How comfortable were you while you shared your experience?
- How helpful were the responses of your group members?
- Did the PLI materials add value? Why or why not?
- What new technique do you plan to practice?
After the practice session, we can ask upper management:
- Did you observe the manager handling situations differently than before?
- Was the manager more effective?
And after the second session, we can ask the managers:
- What did you learn from the practice reports?
- What is your confidence level in using your new technique?
- What do you plan to do differently in the future?
- Would you like to continue the peer learning group process on another topic?
Did the Peer Learning Group Process Result in Positive Managerial Changes?
There are many different ways to make this determination.
We can catch up with the managers after 3 and 6 month periods to get their self-reports on their confidence and competence in using their new techniques.
We can conduct 360° reviews.
We can review upper management observations and customer feedback.
We can look for increased employee performance, productivity and engagement, and decreased employee complaints and turnover.
We can look at the performance evaluations of the managers and their direct reports.
We can look for improvements in program effectiveness, productivity, quality, response times, customer satisfaction, employee retention, market share, and a collaborative work environment.
Do Peer Learning Groups Lead to Better Organizational Outcomes?
As we move up the evaluation ladder, we also want to check if, over time, there are other positive impacts in the organization. Here we are interested to know, for example, if the overall performance of a team or division has improved, if collaboration within and between teams has gotten stronger and more productive, and if there are fewer interpersonal and inter-team conflicts.
As you can see, the success of a Peer Learning Group Process can be monitored and evaluated in many ways. The bottom line is that something has to physically change for the better. We believe that peer learning groups will make that happen.
For more information about the Peer Learning Group Process, schedule a mutually convenient time to chat with one of our learning specialists:
Deborah Laurel, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer, The Peer Learning Institute