How to Enable Peer-to-peer Learning in Corporate Environment?
Regardless of context, learning is much more of a social effort than we tend to think. People learn from each other, whether through mistakes, experiences, stories, testimonials or even straight-up coaching. While corporate learning remains largely a top down effort, you could save your L&D team a lot of trouble by enabling your employees to mentor and teach each other. As organisations are increasingly dispersed and filled with busy people, the issue might seem too big to tackle effectively. But that’s not the reality in most cases. And to demonstrate that, here are four different ways of facilitating peer-to-peer learning in your organisation.
1. Social learning platforms enable peer learning
In the past couple of years, social learning platforms have really risen up in the workplace ecosystem. While functionalities differ slightly, the logic and value proposition is real and clear. For a long time, the field of eLearning has completely neglected one of the most valuable aspects to the learning experience: interacting with other people. While this happens naturally in a classroom, often there hasn’t been even an opportunity for peer-to-peer learning while engaging with activities in a digital environment. Luckily, that has changed.
Social learning platforms enable discussions and sharing – the things peer-to-peer learning is all about – across geographies and organisational barriers. In the context of workplace learning, ultimately it’s not about the content. It’s about finding ways to implement the learning on the job. That’s where a community of peers can help a lot. Consider topics like leadership or managing a team. The topics tend to be quite abstract, but when you have someone sharing with you their experience of implementing such practices, you remove a lot of the barriers to implementation.
2. Skills Market Places for peer-to-peer coaching
In organisations, there are a lot of “hidden” skills that companies are not necessarily aware of. Nowadays as people change jobs and careers more frequently than ever, it’s more important than ever to tap into the increasingly diverse experience that our employees have. Establishing Skills Market Places can be a good way to support peer-to-peer learning and skills transfer organically within an organisation.
The idea of the skills market place is a rather simple: connecting people with specific skills to those who want to learn such skills. The people who have in-demand skills and are willing to teach others can indicate the subject matter that they’re good at. Similarly, people wanting to learn new skills indicate the type of skills they are looking to learn. Just drop in a bit of magic (and maybe a bit of tech to make things smoother!) and enable these groups of people to find each other. Let the employees manage the process, take control and engage in ways they see fit. Have them report back and analyse your data. As a side product, you’re much more likely to get an accurate view of your organisation’s skills map.
3. User-generated content is an untapped opportunity for peer learning in the workplace
As with the example of skills market places above, there’s a lot of valuable, tacit knowledge just sitting out there. Instead of sticking to the age-old and largely ineffective top-down training mantra, why not rethink the learning process? After all, it’s the employees who are the best experts at their jobs. They also know the organisational, functional, cultural and interpersonal barriers to implementing change and new behaviours in the organisation – something that even the management often has hard time grasping. Thus, they can generate content with unparalleled level of context and relevance.
As learning goes more into the workflow and shifts to on-demand resources, this type of user-generated content becomes increasingly valuable. It doesn’t necessarily need all the fancy bells and whistles. Often, the high context and relevance more than makes up for the extensive design work that we tend to opt for. Of course, it doesn’t have to be anarchy either, the L&D professionals should still keep control, facilitate the process and curate the content. But overall, the opportunity itself is too great to miss.
4. Collaboration tools enable peer-to-peer learning in the workflow
The fact remains that learning doesn’t only happens in classrooms or within learning platforms. Collaboration tools and platforms (e.g. Slack) are a true example of that. While not designed for learning, they provide a shared platform for employees to engage with each other. Discussion rooms, virtual workspaces, private chats along with the performance support are a great example of facilitating peer-to-peer learning. Whenever an employee encounters a problem with a project they’re working on, collaboration tools provide seamless and easy things to engage in the oldest modalities of learning – asking.
Sure, there are many ways to collaborate within the workplace. But when the workforce is increasingly flexible, short-tenured or even project-based, these kind of platforms increase in importance. We need to learn more than ever, but at the same time, it’s imperative to stay productive and not waste time in just-in-case type of learning activities. These tools not only help your people to work more efficiently, but also provide a great platform for learning from each other on the job, at the point of need.
Are you enabling peer-to-peer learning in your organisation? Are your digital learning resources and experiences still “unsocial”? We can help you with that. Just leave us a message here and we’ll get back to you.