Aligning throughCulture Renewal
Peer-2-Peer Learning (P2P) can enhance can company’s development programs in a myriad of ways while at the same time improving its organizational effectiveness. P2P could be used in any business or organization toward achieving the following goals:
1. Providing development opportunities where none (or few) existed before
2. Enhancing existing development programs
3.Supporting the effectiveness of existing competency models
4. Enhancing inter-organizational networking
5. Bolstering change initiatives
6. Turbo-charging internal communications
P2P offers both a flexible, low-cost approach to develop organizational skills
P2P 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 is a critical skill 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.
This kind of situation 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, P2P 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 P2P.
A broader spectrum of stakeholders can also be reached through P2P 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 P2P. As a result, those individuals (not just their managers) who play key roles to any innovation effort can participate in an innovation-centered P2P process.
2. Enhancing existing development programs
P2P can also be used to both broaden and deepen existing development programs. For example: participants of leadership development courses can be offered P2P modules both before and after their formal training workshops. The P2P modules which are introduced before a training session can help to better prepare participants for their learning experience. P2P 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 P2P process after their workshops. 5 other employees who have not attended the formal sessions join this P2P learning group. The role of the IMPM workshop participants is to twofold: 1) to lead the P2P learning conversations and 2) share their learnings to the other five P2P 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.
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?
P2P learning can help. Many CoachingOurselves modules help employees to better understand the skills and behaviors which are associated with the kinds of competencies which are identified in most company competency models. The table below illustrates hows a variety of CoachingOurselves modules can used to support the development of classical work competencies:
Companies are encouraged to begin their P2P journeys 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 and fosters a solid foundation for the on-going process. Once co-workers have begun to feel comfortable with the P2P process, organizations can begin to innovate with the use of P2P 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 virtually for a learning session through the use of an interactive online calendar system. This provides the opportunity of 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!
When a large change initiative is started, P2P 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. The Module “Decision-Making – it is not what you think” also supports managers whose own roles are changing.
Ensemble Enabler collaborates with companies to develop custom-designed modules for P2P learning sessions. These modules are designed to address the specific changes which are taking place and support employees to better understand the on-going change process.
The conundrum of internal company communications is that the is a myriad of new ways to reach people. As a result, it is often very difficult to really capture employees’ attention. One 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 using 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.
P2P learning provides another learning channel to support such important internal communications by serving as a communication vehicle. Through learning modules, employees are able to discuss the implications of important company developments and/or policies (such as strategy) with each other. A custom-designed P2P module can address unique, specific company issues. As a a result, these modules provide a platform for the learners to discuss the issue at hand during a compact 90 minute session. Such an approach will ensure that internal communications certainly get the attention they deserve!
The Six ways to improve organizational effectiveness through P2P offers opportunities to provide tremendous value to any organization. But these Six Ways are only a beginning. As the use of Peer2Peer learning is embraced by more organizations, additional approaches will certainly evolve in the near future.