Updated: Jan 13
Peer learning, wondering what that means? Typically, one thinks of peers as those that you share something in common. Like the generation from which you are born. As we moved into the 4th Industrial Age, the definition of peer learning has expanded past the traditional description previously shared. Implementing peer coaching in your company culture enables today's leadership development professionals to meet the most common operational demands: lightweight, scalable, engaging, high-impact development for all leaders throughout the organization. Employees want personalized learning in their job roles that includes mentoring, coaching, and leadership development. Peer learning's an in-demand learning technique that can make your company become the “greatest place to work” environment which positively impacts engagement, retention, and culture.
Peer learning allows you to identify where knowledge gaps exist, so you can task the right people with closing those gaps in an engaging and efficient way.
Let’s break down the reasons why you should adopt a peer-to-peer culture built around servant leadership principles, It's about the purpose of your people, customers and company. Creating a peer learning culture is built around three servant leadership principles that focus on purpose:
Put others first
Help people develop
How does servant leadership play into peer learning? In the simplest of language, ‘It's not all about you. It's about others.’ If business ‘speak’ is more your style, think of it from a marketing design-thinking perspective, ‘It's about the end user.’ The humans you work with are complex curious, amazing and sometimes complicated people (just like you). Peer learning means you are open to learning from others; this is found through active listening, patience, and empathy (which means you are actually hearing the problem the person at the other end of the conversation is sharing with you). End result, active learning.
Can you imagine what your company would be like for your co-workers and your customers, in addition to the impact your company can have on your community?
You see adopting a peer learning culture helps develop a servant leader culture in tandem. As a reminder, a servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.
Companies with a peer learning culture offer an inspirational working environment where employees are mentored and nurtured by bright minds and purpose-led leaders and rippled out to the world you touch. It develops people at their core which percolates innovation in the culture. Want proof?
Companies that adopt a peer learning philosophy experience amazing internal growth which benefits their customers. They're forward-thinking companies built around a mindset of continuous learning which deepens relationships, and fosters innovation. These companies include Unilever, Bank of America, Mastercard, and Airbnb. Sounds too good to be true because it's so simple? Keep reading for tips on how to bring peer learning into your company culture.
Peer learning encourages and enhances team communication and super power learning. Here are 7 tips to keep in mind when setting up peer learning in your workplace.
The advantages to embracing peer learning is the opportunity to have an in-house deep knowledge vault especially if you employ a multigenerational workforce. There are five generations in the workforce now (Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millenials/Gen Y, and Gen Z). This provides a huge competitive advantage for your company when it comes to recruitment, engagement, and retention.
The predominance of learning opportunities at the workplace's one of the most powerful factors that drive employee engagement. A whitepaper titled Building a Smarter Workforce by Josh Bersin also hammers in the truth by underlining what it needs to create, nurture, and retain a “smart” workforce:
Puts in place a continuous peer learning cycle
Implements new and inspiring models of leadership that encourage innovation
Builds a workplace where work is driven by [purpose and] passion
Becoming a company with a strong learning culture'll transcend its role as a mere skill-building strategy and go on to become a valuable tool for employee engagement and retention. I really recommend taking time to understand how this works and why it's valuable.
1. Remember, the people in your company already have the know-how.
You can just take advantage of the knowledge that is already available in your company. There is a reason why you hired your employees – at some point you decide that they are the best among their peers. So who should the best people learn from, if not each other?
2. It follows the loop.
The learning loop's comprised of four factors:
Practicing what you learned
Getting feedback, and
Reflecting on the information
This is what peer-to-peer learning offers. It allows you to immediately apply the new information, get feedback, and finally let it sink in. This changes behavior and develops your people holistically.
3. It’s a safe method.
When learning a new skill, it is important to be comfortable to ask questions, talk about your concerns and not be afraid to make mistakes. Learning in more formal settings, being stressed by the following evaluations, makes all that less likely to happen.
4. It fosters leadership skills.
Peer-to-peer learning helps employees master the skills of giving and receiving constructive feedback. Given the fact that each person stands at both ends of the process, people do their best to provide meaningful feedback for their peers.
Hopefully, this makes you think about the value of investing in people, from your interns to senior management. When it comes down to creating a culture built around continuous learning, upskilling, development of power skills, and spanning communication gaps with multigenerational workers then Peer to Peer learning's vital to the growth and scalability of your business. Reach out to Isabella Johnston for a 30 minute call to discuss your intern program or speak at your event.