Workplace learning is broken. It takes too much time, is costly, has insufficient practice, is rarely reinforced, and doesn’t show results.
A recent article by Melanie Fellay, “5 Steps to Fix Workplace Learning,” prompted me to think about how peer learning groups fulfilled these steps.
Her first step is to make training relevant and timely. The peer learning group process brings together four or five managers who are dealing with the same current management challenge, and they receive just-in-time learning.
Her second step is to consider the value of your employees’ time. The peer learning group process involves one 90-minute session a month. The members of the peer learning group have joined because of their immediate management challenge, so they are highly motivated and engaged in the learning process.
Her third step is to involve your employees in the learning process. The small peer learning group discussion is facilitated by the managers in the group, so they have control over their own learning process. They are guided by our structure, with a timed agenda and workbook activities. As Ms. Fellay says, “Peers respect peers, and coworkers communicate with one another better than they do with upper management or an instructor.”
Her fourth step is to balance learning with physical needs. The managers in a peer learning group can schedule their sessions in locations that are both comfortable and convenient, and at times that work for them.
Her fifth and last step is to structure your learning program with a multifaceted approach. The peer learning group process begins with an exploration into how the members have attempted to handle their current shared management challenge. They then consider root causes, to be sure they are focusing on the right problem.
They review and discuss a variety of techniques to address the challenge, select which they’re going to use, and commit in front of the group. Then for a month they handle that current challenge using their new skills. On a weekly basis, they receive microlearning tips to reinforce concepts and techniques. They meet with a peer buddy to share progress, and both receive and provide encouragement and feedback. They keep a weekly log.
They are asked to reflect on their experience and then report to the entire group, who holds them accountable. With individual work, group discussion and analysis, reading, action planning, practice, feedback, log keeping, reflection, and reporting, the peer learning group process is as multifaceted as possible.
If you feel that your workplace learning is broken, talk with me about how peer learning can help.
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