The Old is Gone; The New Has Come
The nature of work — and learning — is quickly changing. Managers today face increasing complexity, with new challenges and opportunities arising at the speed of the internet and social media communication.
The old static model of learning is clearly unable to meet the demands of managers who need to learn new knowledge and techniques on an on-going basis. They need to learn when they need it, which is often NOW. And it cannot be a general overview of a topic or an issue; managers need specific learning that addresses their questions and offers them ways to implement the solutions in their daily practice.
In response, Learning & Development (L&D) and Human Resources (HR) departments are changing what they do and how they do it. They recognize and embrace their new role as the architects of dynamic learning ecosystems. While formal training is still at the center of most current L&D programs, L&D professionals now have a huge opportunity to bring more value to their organizations through on-demand learning methodologies.
The on-demand learning that immediately comes to mind is online or e-learning. It is available anywhere, at any time, and on any topic (the quality is another matter). And it may answer some of the questions that managers may have. However, as passive one-way learning, it has severe limitations in terms of how much a manager can learn and on what level of detail. More information does not guarantee learning, let alone help in solving complex challenges. Like traditional management training, e-learning naturally needs to stay on a very general level to appeal to a mass audience on the internet.
Your managers need to quickly find answers to their challenges in the unique context of their organizations, not in company X in location Y that deals with problem Z.
So, what can L&D professionals do to provide on-demand training in a cost-effective and timely manner? Consider peer learning groups.
On-demand Learning Using Peer Learning Groups
Peer learning groups are flexible learning circles of up to 6 managers who have similar levels of responsibility and face similar challenges. They meet first for a 90-minute session to delve into a management topic or challenge. They follow a structured learning path that allows the participants to share their own experiences, learn new strategies and put their collective heads together to come up with innovative solutions. After that, the managers practice these new techniques as part of their regular job duties and then reconvene after 4 weeks to reflect on their experience. They share their new experiences and settle on the best strategies to address their initial challenge.
This peer learning process can be repeated as often as needed, and peer learning groups can be organized at any given time when a need for solving a current or pressing issue emerges. Managers do not need to go online or wait for a traditional training program to learn. Instead, they solve their problems as a group through dialogue and peer coaching. Peer learning groups are the ultimate on-demand training option that is effective, practical, and very affordable.
Introducing Peer Learning Groups into the L&D Ecosystem
These on-site flexible peer learning groups enable L&D to expand its impact beyond traditional programs. They create a learning culture that enhances managers’ productivity because it’s embedded in their daily routines and is right on hand when they need it.
Learn More About Using Peer Learning Groups for Management Development
In our white paper, we help L&D practitioners make the business case for doing more with peer learning groups in their organizations, including:
- The benefits that help convince decision makers to use peer learning for management development;
- Ideas for supporting and scaling formal and informal learning with peer learning groups; and
- An in-company implementation process that can be easily applied in any business setting.
Today’s learning and development professionals already understand the potential that peer learning groups offer. Make sure your organization isn’t missing out!
Peter Korynski Co-Founder and Chief Program Officer The Peer Learning Institute