Tip #711: Introducing The Peer Learning Group
“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” Brian Herbert
In past Tips, I have mentioned that I was starting a new business (an offshoot of Laurel and Associates, Ltd.) It is called the Peer Learning Group and I would like to tell you more about it.
You may have heard of peer learning groups. In our model, a peer learning group provides an opportunity for managers to learn from each other and validate their experience as they build more expertise. It has a skill-building results-oriented goal.
Six managers at the same level, but from different departments in the organization, meet onsite in two 90-minute sessions spaced a month apart. They focus on discovering more effective strategies to meet a specific shared management challenge, such as delegation or dealing with a difficult employee.
The group is self-directed, meaning that one of the managers facilitates each session. There is no need for an external facilitator or trainer.
During the first session, the group members: share their stories about the management issue; discuss their experiences; build their knowledge and skills (with written reference materials, exercises, job aids and/or videos); and plan to apply their new learning.
In the time between the sessions, the managers practice using a new more effective strategy to handle their specific management challenge.
During the second session, a month later, the group members report back and learn from each other’s practice experiences, building each other’s confidence and competence to handle similar management challenges in the future.
Post-session, the group members adjust their management approaches by putting into practice one or more of their newly learned strategies.
There are many reasons why our model is unique. Here are two of them: First, all discussion occurs onsite. Yes, this makes meeting more convenient for the managers and doesn’t require any expenditure for travel costs to a formal management development program. But the model also does something else. It grounds the discussion within the context and culture of the organization.
Most management development programs have to provide very general examples because the participants come from different companies. Then those participating managers have to try to translate and integrate what they learned into their specific company cultures. The onsite discussions in our model deal with current problems and challenges faced by the managers- right where they face them.
Second, although there are other peer coaching organizations, all of them require an outside facilitator. In our model, the managers facilitate their own discussion. As a result, all discussions can be kept confidential- and the managers who volunteer to facilitate a session gain group facilitation skills.
We currently offer over 22 modules on management topics in eight different categories: communication, conflict management, management, performance management, staff development, self-improvement, supervision, and team management. Once we’re past our initial marketing stage, we have a long list of the other modules we’ll be creating.
We piloted the program with three groups at an insurance company who worked with our module materials for: Coaching Employees for Success, Developing Your Staff, and When to Adjust Your Management Style. The feedback was very positive:
“This was a unique experience to meet and exchange challenges and ideas with peers from different departments … Ordinarily, we do not have the time or structure to do this. This is definitely of value to supervisors / managers.”
“The materials you provided were an excellent framework. It was also good to hear each example from other managers and get their perspective on different problems. I think we did a nice job of coming together to support one another and provide different options.”
“The material provided and discussion it helped to initiate was very good. It was nice to get feedback from others at my same level with their perspective on the situation.”
“Reflection gave me a chance to hear what other people tried and pick up on that to see if what someone else tried could be adapted to what I was doing.”
In the next Tip, I’ll share more specific information about The Peer Learning Group Model.
If this sounds interesting, I encourage you to check out our website: http://www.peerlearninggroup.com
And if you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at 608-255-2010.
May your learning be sweet.