There are seven challenges in management development that individually and collectively have a negative impact on the return on training investment. Peer learning groups can solve all seven challenges.
#1: Lack of Time
A peer learning group is considerate of managers’ time constraints. It is scheduled at their convenience, when they need it, for a short period of time, and in the worksite so there is no need for travel. Peer learning doesn’t take much time, just a short session of 90 minutes every other month. This is less than 1% of the managers’ work time.
#2: A Decentralized Workforce
Decentralization creates silos that make it difficult for managers to work and collaborate. Peer learning groups are adaptable and personalized to build trust and bridge program differences. Although peer learning ideally works best when managers meet face-to-face in the first session, it can be handled virtually. This will be true for managers who are already used to various online communication tools and feel comfortable participating in a virtual peer learning group.
#3: A Multi-Generational Workforce
Peer learning groups are flexible and inclusive to satisfy a multi-generational workforce so that all expertise and contributions are valued. Both novice and seasoned managers suspend issues of age or seniority for the purpose of sharing their knowledge and experience equally. This is due to the structured format and roadmap provided as part of the peer learning group design.
#4: Scrap Training
The peer learning group focuses on specific managerial real-life issues so it is directly applicable to their work. It also provides just enough knowledge that the managers can absorb and utilize, so there is no scrap. The discussion and resulting practices are directly relevant to their workplace culture, context and needs- which increases the probability of a positive ROI.
#5: Lack of Engagement
Peer learning groups engage the managers’ interest and motivation in a way that reinforces learning, retention and application. The managers can talk about what is important to them. Because the management challenge is a real issue that they come together to resolve, they are highly committed to the process and its results. Their learning is directly connected to their work. Working and collaborating together also creates peer pressure to perform better.
A peer learning group is affordable and cost-effective so that all managers can take advantage of it. It can typically be organized at a fraction of the cost you would spend on offsite or customized onsite training options. A comparison of the costs for a two-day offsite training program versus four peer learning group sessions shows an 80% cost savings.
#7: Perceived Value to Management
The biggest frustration of senior management is that traditional training methods don’t result in observable behavioral change. A peer learning group shows immediate results and has a positive impact on ROI. It builds the soft skills that contribute to the bottom line in a knowledge economy, such as interpersonal communication, conflict management and collaboration.
Our experience shows that top management values the results of peer group engagement, noting better collaboration, better performance, and the elimination of organizational silos.
Deborah Laurel Chief Learning Officer The Peer Learning Institute