How To Learn From Your Peers At The Workplace
Aristotle once said, “Man is by nature a social animal.” Social collaboration is not just found in humans, most mammals that tend to live in groups have very specific social roles in their groups to teach, learn and protect each other. Since a young age students in schools start to identify with the people that they have most in common with, and then these common grounds evolve into friendships and learning mechanisms.
In the workplace, the environment becomes a little different. Now you cannot choose the group you have to be in, the company pairs you up with different kinds of people depending on their skills. The common perception people have of a workplace is based on the concept that a lot of people come in at 9, perform their individual tasks till 5, and then leave. This was true some time ago, but as the world has become a more cooperative civilization, these sorts of changes have also crept in the workplace code of conduct and ethics.
You simply cannot afford to be the office lone wolf anymore because now peer to peer learning is becoming more and more popular in almost all kinds of organizations.
So how can one learn from their peers? And what are the different peer to peer learning benefits that individuals should know about?
Identify The Top Performers And Observe Them
You may hate the top performer that is kicking everyone else’s butt in performance reviews, but you need to learn from them. The first step in learning from your peers is to identify who you want to learn from. We all come across exemplary people, and people who take their work lightly. You may hang in different circles, but you should see what a top performer is doing so you can incorporate some of the best practices in your routine. Do they come in early to catch up on work? Do they make quick decisions? How exactly do they handle themselves in stressful situations? See what’s making them so successful and use it to become successful yourself.
If you are a manager, you should see top performers as a vital source for you company, not just business wise, but education-wise too. The best way to utilize their talent is to create teams within your employees which are led by top performs under their supervision. This will not only create a better bond between the employees but also promote friendly competition between these teams to do better.
Find A Mentor
There is nothing new under the sun. The path you are walking may be a road less travelled but many have been there before you. All you are doing is knowingly, or unknowingly, following in their footsteps; therefore, you might as well do it knowingly. If you are in an organization with a well-defined hierarchy, find a person who has worked their way up the hierarchy and try to build a rapport with them. Ask them questions about different aspects of your job, reach out to them when you are stuck, thank them for helping you when they do, and next thing you know you have a mentor who is willing to teach you their ways.
We want to be very clear here. This does not mean sucking up to your boss, this means building a mentor-protégé relationship that will last a lifetime. Your mentor does not have to work in the same organization as you, they do not have to be your boss, and in some cases, they do not even have to have more experience than you. All they need to have is knowledge and skills that you want to acquire.
Observe A Learning Week
If you are a manager, make it happen. If you aren’t, go to your manager and recommend that you do a learning week in your organization. During the learning week, employees are asked to participate in peer to peer training sessions weekly. All departments of the company get together once a week to teach other departments something that might come in useful and add to their skill set.
It is also a good way of bringing out some of the unknown talents within your team. The best thing about training sessions is that they are not limited to anything specific, the learning can be about anything that can help you. These sessions can also become a global event if you have a company that has branches stemming in other countries. Through online video calling, the training can be delivered from one part of the globe to another.
Just remember, if the employees keep on learning, the company will keep on growing.
Improve Your Communication Skills
To learn from your peers, you need to have great communication skills. Your verbal and nonverbal communication skills will determine your relationship with people within and outside of your organization, and the effectiveness of the knowledge transfer that happens between you and others.
Half the learning process is automatically successful when the communication is well taken care of. If you wish to learn from your peers, you have to set up good communication lines with them. This means successfully breaking the ice, working on your small talk and soft skills, and make sure you are on good talking grounds with your peers. Attending social events and activities that allow you to interact with others and get to know about their expertise will help strengthen the peer to peer learning processes.
Peer to peer learning is one of the most important tools available today to become better at your job, and acquire the skills for the job you actually want to get. For individuals, it is a great way to learn. For organizations, it is a great way to create a strong workforce. A more cooperative workplace means high morale for the employees and in turn, success for the company.
Platforms like ExpertConnect are making sure that this phenomenon of peer to peer learning continues and spreads throughout organizations to become more congruent and fluent when it comes to working together.