6 Key Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Learning for your Organization

Peer-2-Peer Learning is a novel approach to employee development

The use of Peer-2-Peer Learning (P2P) can enhance a company’s development programs in a myriad of ways. At the same time it serves to improves an organizational effectiveness.

Any business or organization can achieve the following goals through the use of Peer-to-Peer Learning:

 1. Providing development opportunities where none (or few) existed before, 2. Enhancing existing development programs, 3. Supporting the effectiveness of existing competency models, 4. Promoting inter-organizational networking, 5. Bolstering change initiatives and 6. Turbo-charging internal communications

Peer-to-Peer Learning is not only a way to develop people,

but it is also an organizational skill.

This skill can help a company to become more adaptive and responsive to outside market forces. This capability is critical in an age where industry-wide disruptions are the norm, not the exception.  When people in a company learn how to learn, the organization increases its capacity to adapt and change. Peer-to-Peer Learning offers both a flexible, low-cost approach to develop these organizational skills.


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1. Providing development opportunities where none (or few) existed before

Searching for a flexible, low-cost approach to develop organizational skills led to the development of CoachingOurselves©.  One of the founders, Phil LeNir was an engineer at a small Canadian software company.  He wanted to provide development opportunities for his co-workers. However when he inquired at McGill University about providing such development courses, he realized that he did not have the adequate budget to do so.  The idea of bringing the classroom into the workplace was born through his interaction with Professor Henry Mintzberg at McGill University.

For smaller companies (similar to Phil LeNir’s) which lack the budget to send their valued employees to high-priced educational offerings, Peer-to-Peer Learning offers top notch content at a fraction of the price.  Even smaller companies (or larger companies with budget restraints!) can offer their employees high quality development opportunities through the use of Peer-to-Peer Learning modules.

A broader spectrum of stakeholders can also be reached through Peer-to-Peer Learning as well.  Workshops on innovation are often restricted to a small percentage of the workforce. The number of people who are included in a skill development program which fosters innovation can be exponentially increased through the use of Peer-to-Peer Learning modules. As a result, those individuals (not just their managers) who play key roles to any innovation effort can participate in an innovation-centered Peer-to-Peer process.

Peer-2-Peer Learning

A flexible and cost-effective employee development approach which supports organizational learning. This case study “Peer-to-Peer Learning at Lufthansa Business School” highlights a new concept to promote the development of leaders, managers and employees within companies.

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2. Enhancing existing development programs

Peer-to-Peer Learning can also be used to both broaden and deepen existing development programs.  For example: Participants of leadership development courses can be offered Peer-to-Peer modules both before and after their formal training workshops.  

Peer-to-Peer modules which are introduced before a training session can help to better prepare participants for their learning experience. 

Peer-to-Peer modules used after a formal training session can serve to reinforce concepts or models which have already been learned or to serve to enhance the workshop content.

Lufthansa has improved upon this enhancement model.  Managers who are sent to the prestigious International Master Program in Practicing Management (IMPM offered by McGill University in Montreal) are asked to continue their learning via a Peer-to-Peer process after their workshops.  5 other employees who have not attended the formal sessions join this Peer-to-Peer learning group.

The role of the International Master Program in Practicing Management (IMPM) workshop participants is to twofold:

1) to lead the Peer-to-Peer Learning conversations and

2) share their learnings to the other five Peer-to-Peer participants who did not attend the formal IMPM workshops. 

The success of this process helped Lufthansa to create the motto “Send 1, develop 6” - for each manager sent to the IMPM program, 6 other Lufthansa employees are introduced to their learnings from the IMPM workshop experience.

3. Supporting the effectiveness of existing company competency models

Does your company have a competency model which defines the skills and knowledge that are required to perform jobs at various levels throughout the organization?

Is it your job to help employees understand these competencies and support them both in their job performance and their assessment of others?

Peer-to-Peer Learning modules can help.  Many CoachingOurselves© modules help employees to better understand the skills and behaviors which are associated with  competencies identified in most company competency models.  The table below illustrates hows a variety of CoachingOurselves© modules can be used to support the development of classical work competencies:

P2P table   competencies

4. Promoting inter-organizational networking

Companies are encouraged to begin their Peer-to-Peer Learning journey by initially creating fixed learning groups (i.e. the same 5 people get together on a regular basis to learn together).  The stability of these groups supports the acceptance of this novel approach as well as fosters a solid foundation for the on-going process.  Once co-workers have begun to feel comfortable with the Peer-to-Peer process, organizations can begin to innovate with the use of Peer-to-Peer modules to enhance collaboration throughout the organization.

Experienced learning groups can be formed across functions, across geographies and/or across business units using virtual technology.  Teams of 5 agree to get together for a learning session through the use of an interactive online calendar system. This provides the opportunity for learning partners to become variable (rather than fixed). This fosters thriving connections across the organization.  As a result, insights into different functions grow and individuals get a sense of the larger organization. This provides a simple yet effective way to increase collaboration at all levels!

5. Bolstering change initiatives

When a large change initiative is started, Peer-to-Peer Learning helps prepare employees for this change. A major restructuring effort, for example, might result in a more decentralized decision-making processes throughout the organization, thus creating change. A CoachingOurselves© module such as “Understanding Organizations” helps employees to understand the types of changes which are taking place.  Another module “Decision-Making – it is not what you think” supports managers whose own roles are also changing.

Ensemble Enabler collaborates with companies to develop custom-designed modules for Peer-to-Peer Learning sessions. These modules are designed to address specific changes which are taking place and support employees to better understand the on-going change process.

6. Turbo-charging internal communications

The conundrum of internal company communications is that there are a myriad of ways to reach employees. As a result, it is often very difficult to really capture employees’ attention.  A meeting of the strategy staff of a large corporation provides a good example of this kind of challenge.  During the meeting, other employees complained that they were not being sufficiently informed about the company strategy. The strategy staff listened to this complaint with exasperation since a broad spectrum of efforts had been used to foster communication - such as written articles in newsletters, posted information on an intranet page, broadcast videos of the CEO and other officers talking about the strategy. Despite all these efforts, their message had not arrived.

Peer-to-Peer Learning provides another learning channel to support such important internal communications by serving as cross-functional communication vehicle. Through Peer-to-Peer Learning modules, employees are able to discuss the implications of important company developments and/or policies (such as strategy) with one another. A custom-designed Peer-to-Peer Learning module can address unique and specific company issues. As a a result, these modules provide a platform for learners to discuss the issue at hand during a compact 90 minute session. Using one (or more) custom-designed Peer-to-Peer Learning modules  will ensure that internal communications get the attention it deserves with a very diverse spectrum of employees!


Milky way

 

The Six ways to improve organizational effectiveness through Peer-to-Peer Learning offers many opportunities which provide tremendous value to any organization. However these Six Ways are only the beginning of the learning journey. As the use of Peer-to-Peer Learning is embraced by more organizations, additional ways to skillfully use this approach will certainly evolve in the near future.

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