The Management Development Challenge: Solve it by Building a Peer Learning and Coaching Culture

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Management Development Challenge

Managers are made, not born. Developing strong managers requires identifying employees with management potential, evaluating the need for performance improvement in specific areas and providing skill building opportunities (training, coaching and counseling) designed to increase managerial competencies. A key challenge to management development is finding the time to provide it.

Companies and their managers are challenged by the need to respond to changes in the internal and external environment and the constant demands of employees, customers and new technology. Creating a peer learning culture in your organization may offer an answer to your management development challenge.

Faulty Assumptions

Professional development through training for managers and supervisors has been the traditional answer to creating high performing teams and spreading best practices.

This approach is actually based on faulty assumptions that managers are deficient and need external inputs. The fact is that managers already have a lot of skills, knowledge and experience which, when shared broadly among themselves, offers a unique learning opportunity at a low cost and effort for your organization.

Mining your managers’ tacit knowledge and turning it into a usable asset for others through peer learning and coaching creates a win-win for managers and the organization.

Self-Management and Collaboration

Increasingly, work relies on self-management within flat horizontal structures where managers have to assume more leadership roles and engage in complex collaborations across functions and work processes. This requires developing skills that traditional training methods are hard to deliver.

Collaborative learning and knowledge sharing that incorporate reflection practice have a better chance to lead to performance improvements than other forms of management development. Participative and collaborative management styles replace old school classroom training and online passive workshops.

Peer Learning Advantage

Peer learning has several unique features that separate it from other forms of management development. It is self-directed and uses the knowledge, skills and experience of your managers. Unlike generic traditional training and online options, the content is provided by the participants discussing their real issues and challenges.

Since peer learning is organized at the workplace, the content of learning is derived and grounded in the context of the organization, therefore application of ideas and solutions generated by the group can be immediate.

Not having to leave the workplace, the managers can flexibly organize their peer sessions to fit their schedules.  Peer learning is by far the most cost-effective method of professional development when compared with off-site, customized on-site and on-line options.

Organizing Peer Groups is Not Enough: Create the Peer Learning Culture

You should not expect a miracle from telling your managers to learn from their peers. There are three conditions for success. (1) Your managers need to know that their peer learning and coaching is welcome and appreciated by the senior management. (2) They must be allowed time to spend with peers in mutual learning and coaching. (3) They must be convinced that this is not another fad or management trick but in a systematic way to help them improve and further develop their skills.

Peer Learning and Coaching in Your Organization

Peer learning and coaching in organizations often fail because they are not well structured and the managers are not properly introduced to the goal and benefits of peer learning groups.

Launching a peer learning and coaching program follows a three-step process. (1) Fitting the peer learning program to your organization’s needs. (2) Building peer learning groups and preparing them for the peer learning experience.  (3) Launching the peer learning groups.

Contact us at to schedule a free strategic session or a free on-site demonstration of the peer learning group program.

Peter Korynski, Chief Program Officer                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Peer Learning Institute

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