The Power of Peer Learning

Peer Learning Ask the Expert Career Blog April 22, 2019 By: Barbara Mitchell

Peer learning is valuable because it allows employees to build their skill sets and shine in front of their colleagues, among other reasons. If you don't have a peer learning program at your organization yet, here's how you can get started.

Q: I want to facilitate more peer learning in my department, but I’m not sure how to get started. How can I help my employees share their expertise and learn from each other?

A:  Peer-to-peer learning is valuable for many reasons, but one of the most significant is that it gives employees a chance to shine in front of their colleagues. Most people appreciate the opportunity to share their knowledge with others, and encouraging peer learning is a way to make this happen.

Peer-to-peer learning is also a cost-effective way to build the skill set of your current employees. In addition, it can be vital when a key staff member leaves—if you’ve had that person share his or her knowledge with others on your team, that valuable information will stay with your organization after your employee is gone.

To begin facilitating peer learning, identify experts in your office, as well as areas where only one person has knowledge or experience. Sharing knowledge benefits everyone, and it’s especially useful for ensuring that multiple people on your team understand important processes and tasks that keep operations running smoothly.

Sharing knowledge benefits everyone, and it’s especially useful for ensuring that multiple people on your team understand important processes and tasks that keep operations running smoothly.

If this is a new concept for your organization, try introducing it at a staff meeting. Remind your team that each member has unique knowledge that everyone else can benefit from knowing, and explain that you’ll set aside 10 minutes at each staff meeting for one person to share their expertise. Make participation voluntary, and ask people how they’d like to contribute, to accommodate introverts on your team.

It’s important that each peer-to-peer learning experience is useful and accessible to everyone. Work with each person to help him or her enhance the effectiveness of the presentation. In addition, you can preserve knowledge-sharing by asking participants to put their information in writing, or you can record presentations as video or audio files that can be watched or listened to later.

It’s also helpful to solicit feedback from those who participate so that you can keep improving the learning experience.

Barbara Mitchell

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer in "Ask the Expert"? Send it to [email protected]