Let’s talk collaborations. There is no doubt your Stranger Things lego is fantastic, but I mean collabs that boost your business growth — between your team members.
But there is a problem: traditional one-way learning doesn’t work, and managers’ advice isn’t in demand either. It is more comfortable for peers to ask other peers for help and learn from them accordingly. That’s what we call collaborative learning. Employees can discuss ideas without pressure. For an employee, it is a faster and more efficient alternative to traditional learning. But what can it bring your business?
In this article, we unpack the compelling benefits of peer learning and how your company can take advantage of it.
What is Peer-to-peer Learning?
You probably know tools like Google Docs, Discord, or Asana if you read this article. Each product engages users to collaborate on tasks and provides a list of relevant features to make it real: commenting, asking questions, giving feedback, etc. Collaborative learning mirrors this approach.
Collaborative or peer-to-peer learning is about connecting employees and sharing knowledge based on their experience and needs to cover skill gaps within a company.
Thus, instead of learning from an instructor, team lead, or manager, peers guide each other, discuss ideas, practice them, get 360-degree feedback, and reflect on what has been learned.
It would be easier for you to get collaborative learning (bottom-up) idea by comparing it with typical top-down corporate training:
But you definitely can’t go without a knowledge base, aka a single repository comprising the most important information all employees must know about your product and the company. It’s easy to publish, edit, and categorize articles/infographics/videos there and then share them with the team. If you are looking to create such a tool, take a glimpse at the review of knowledge base software conducted by Helpcrunch.
How peer-to-peer learning works:
Peer learning happens in a group or pairs.
The first case example is role-playing sales calls with a team and then discussing what is good and what could be better.
The second case is when an employee has a business problem like “I don’t know how to build a strategy for a strong social media presence.” And there is a more experienced teammate who provides mentorship on this question.
This way, individual knowledge transforms into a full-fledged reusable training course.
There are numerous advantages your business gets after collaborative learning implementation. In addition to both beneficial growths, it is people engagement, improved team performance, strong company culture, etc.
Let’s look at the best of them.
1. Save Budget
Peer learning is an excellent alternative to expensive courses, training programs, workshops, or instructors to upskill your team’s professional knowledge level. There is no need to spend money on that if the top trainers are already within your company.
By utilizing the existing skills in the company, you pay with your employees’ time only. That is almost free compared to traditional employee learning.
Moreover, the gained knowledge, skill, or experience loss is not possible. Implementing an employee-to-employee learning program creates an internal academy with a non-stop knowledge flow, boosting company expertise.
For example, you purchased your marketer Sarah an online course. With peer learning, there is no option that the gained experience can leave your company together with Sarah’s cup when she quits. Your investment will continue to work for your company in the face of teammates she trained.
2. Engage Team Experts in Knowledge Sharing
Hiring a senior-level expert can bring massive growth to your business. But there is a high chance of losing it when this person leaves your company.
Peer-to-peer learning allows you to accumulate that experience within your company.
But a perspective of the budget economy isn’t the best motivation for your staff to join this initiative. So to engage them to share the knowledge, you should explain that it is a win-win for everyone:
“Students” have an opportunity to practice new skills with experts in a comfortable way. They can stop, discuss everything together, and learn from mistakes by practicing the same task repeatedly. Eventually, employees grow in their roles and salary.
By coaching others, expert “teachers” polish their skills to make them perfect. In addition to a harmless ego boost, it is an excellent opportunity to refresh knowledge and see new professional aspects to grow.
To make the most out of this collaboration, send ameeting request email to all interested team members to help them plan their workload and time wisely. Moreover, knowledge and experience aren’t the only things employees transfer in such a collaboration. Probably without even noticing, they share company values as well.
3. Improve Company Culture
The best way to learn something is to practice it with those who are more experienced but still similar to us. Motivation and engagement skyrocket when we see a live example of what we’ll get at the end of the path. That’s why we absorb knowledge and work methods as quickly as the professional views of those who teach us.
Imagine, for instance, a company CEO implementing a new rule of customer support — “always explain the reasons.” But you can’t see how it influences your work, and follow it only when managers watch.
It is a different matter when your teammate details how this rule helped him convey ten angry clients who refused refunds and then helps you to practice this approach. After such training, the “always explain the reasons” rule becomes your best sales instrument, but not a management requirement.
The same thing goes for each of your company values.
4. Build Learning Retention
The best way to learn something is non-stop practice. But as always, routine tasks don’t cover all the knowledge you gained from a course or previous job. In such a scenario, after 7-30 days, you’ll forget a vast part of it. Hermann Ebbinghaus proved it.
Thus, even for the best of us, regress is inevitable.
To avoid forgetting at school, students work in pairs and teach others. The same works in the workplace: employees stick their knowledge in memory through regular teaching and training each other.
5. Onboard New Employees
Staying alone with a task and a list of guidance docs to read with no idea whom to chat with for explanation was my worst first day at a new job. Asking my manager wasn’t an option because I feared looking incompetent. So I got stuck.
Such a situation is common. It causes a massive lag in productivity for an employee as well as for a company.
Collaborative learning! Create the best onboarding experience for office and remote employees by assigning mentors, for example. The onboarding goes faster and easier with a comfortable peer (not a manager) who shows newcomers the ropes and teaches through that first week.
Peer learning is about communication and understanding as well. After such a collaboration, each of your team members is on the same page about company goals and motivated to achieve them.
The high level of collective skill and synchronization of the team when its members can share tasks and support each other when needed bring you over fulfillment of the OKRs plan.
Peer learning is impossible without employees’ desire to join this initiative. So, it would be best if you spent some time delivering the benefits mentioned above to show how mentoring can be helpful to each of them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What do you mean by peer learning in the workplace?
Ans. In a workplace, peer learning refers to the method of learning where coworkers teach other coworkers. This is a good method that organizations can adopt to upskill employees.
Q2. What are the characteristics of peer learning?
Ans. Collaboration, communication, reflection, and self and peer assessment are the characteristics of peer learning.
Q3. What are the 3 important skills for collaboration?
Ans. The 3 important skills for collaboration are communication, respect for diversity, and trust.
Get In Touch With Us
This article is written by Julia Serdiuk.
Julia Serdiuk is an Outreach Specialist at HelpCrunch, an innovative platform to build relationships with customers. She is a bookworm and yoga enthusiast who appreciates life in its various manifestations.
Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2023.