No matter how big your company is, you can start a peer learning program without much investment. One of the strengths of this type of learning is that it can be done rather informally. Here are three things you can do to kickstart peer learning at your company:
Many companies have instituted a learn-at-lunch program, and you can organize one in just a few minutes. A learning lunch is simple: everyone in a group, department, or company gets together on a certain day to have lunch together (you can have the lunch catered or just ask everyone to bring something). During the lunch, one person presents on a topic of interest.
The restrictions you place on the topic are up to you; some companies encourage their employees to talk about work-related things, and others leave it completely up to the presenter. Either way, people are learning.
You can also choose the frequency that works best for your group; you might do it weekly, monthly, or quarterly (though more often is probably better). The level of formality is also up to you. If you think your employees would be willing to put together a short presentation, feel free to ask them to! If you think they’d rather keep it as informal as possible, that’s an option, too.
If you want to see a great example of a learning lunch, look no further than Bitly. They’ve had presentations on things like how to build an iOS app and the importance of international collaboration . . . as well as puns, GIFs, and a bike ride across Iowa.
Bitly has grown their sense of community, learning, and growth with a learning lunch. It might be the easiest way you can, too.
Mentoring is a great example of peer-to-peer learning, even if it doesn’t feel like traditional training. It’s not always focused on an issue or area, but mentors are great at helping newer employees solve problems they’re facing.
There’s a very strong social component to mentoring, and that’s one of its greatest strengths, which is why it’s important that mentors and mentees have a good social relationship. Not everyone is cut out to be a mentor. But those who are can be a huge credit to your organization. Is your boss or executive a mentor? Who do you look up to in your Administrative team and could they be a mentor?
In addition to sharing knowledge, effective mentoring builds strong relationships within your organization—the importance of which can’t be overstated. Both parties gain a great deal in the process, and your company benefits in the long run.
Inc Magazine has a great article on how to start a mentoring program at your company. With structure, a bit of training, and the right format, a mentoring program can help your employees learn more relevant, practical information than they could ever hope to with traditional training.
Learning management systems often focus on top-down knowledge sharing. But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, we argue that it shouldn’t be the case. Learning platforms are perfect for distributing knowledge between employees throughout your company.
Flexible platforms make it easy to share a variety of content. It could be presentations for people to read over, documents that employees find useful, webinars, or just a simple list of tips that someone has learned throughout their career.
If employees are going to use the platform in this manner, though, they have to feel comfortable doing it. Employees need to be given agency over what happens on the training platform. That’s what drives engagement with learning. You can extend this beyond your learning system as well—a company communication tool (like Slack or HipChat) can become a fantastic learning tool if you encourage employees to use it as one.
The simple act of making it easy for employees to share knowledge might be all you need to foster a learning atmosphere in your company.
Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer, who was an administrative professional herself, and her teaching style is grounded in authentic office experience. AdminUniverse™ can help you improve yourself, widen your skill set, and advance your career.