There is no denying that new employees need training in order to learn your business model. Using the experience and knowledge of those inside of the business is often far greater than sending new hires away for training. But it’s important to remember that there is a difference between training and development. In many sales and customer service related positions, there’s a need for development and ongoing training, which is often accomplished by sending people to external, formal training courses or expecting employees to learn the information themselves through news groups, books, and internet research.
However, the simple fact is that employees are far more likely to learn valuable information through their peers—or someone who already has a good grasp of what the business organization is about. When there is less emphasis on training, formal training modules, and focusing the concentration on an exchange of knowledge, both the employees and the employers will begin to see benefits from more comprehensive training and company knowledge. Peers can be an excellent resource for support and company knowledge, which makes peer-to-peer training an excellent tool to help new employees, as well as their peers, develop professionally.
What exactly is peer-to-peer training?
Peer-to-peer training is similar to the buddy system in that it involves people training their colleagues. Peer-to-peer training can be utilized for a range of reasons, such as new hires who need to learn about the business from the ground up or a team that is deficient in a particular area. Someone who is knowledgeable in that area is chosen by a project manager to train others in crucial areas of the business. In many cases, traditional peer-to-peer training is done via presentations where the speaker facilitates open discussions on the topic at hand and encourages others to ask questions or voice their thoughts on the subject.
Benefits of peer-to-peer training
Peer-to-peer training is a great way for employees to learn information in a non-threatening way. This form of training is one of the most ideal ways for employees to learn from one another. Some of the primary benefits of peer-to-peer training include:
- Team building: Through peer-to-peer training, all team members are able to come together without the pressures of daily routines. Although they are not “working” in the usual sense, they’re still providing value to their work. This type of training allows everyone to learn as a group. Those who are not quite as motivated receive the help of their peers who can encourage motivation. And peer-to-peer training is a great way to transfer skills from knowledgeable and experienced team members to others who are less skilled.
- Development: One of the best benefits of peer-to-peer training is that it allows for both personal and professional development. It truly improves the expertise of all team members concerned. Learning important information from peers who are more knowledgeable and experienced provides encouragement for others, especially junior staff members. And people are more likely to respond positively when they are given information from others who are on or near the same level of the business as they are. It’s an opportunity to ask questions without the fear of being ridiculed or dismissed, because they realize their peers have been in the same situation and can understand their concerns.
- Easy to organize: Peer-to-peer training is quick and easy to organize. There is typically no need to request additional funding for a project, no need for formal approvals, and no need to seek head office signatures. Project managers can quickly select the people who are the most fitting for peer-to-peer training and, as the need arises, with minimal effort and cost, peer training can begin.
- Share best practices: There are nearly 66 million baby boomers and 90 million millennials in the workplace. This means that there’s a wide variety of knowledge and expertise on every team. Peer-to-peer learning in the workplace gives everyone the chance to share and learn best practices across their team so that everyone can do better work.
- Scale training: A great peer-to-peer training model is also an efficient way to scale training efforts. Instead of relying on only one or two trainers to train team members, companies can tap into the power and knowledge of other employees to deliver great training.
Clearly, there are a wide range of benefits with peer-to-peer training. It’s an opportunity for those who are more experienced and more knowledgeable in certain areas to pass on their information to their peers. Peer-to-peer training allows people to learn in a non-judgmental and informal situation, which has been shown to be beneficial for all involved.
Examples of peer training
Peer-to-peer training in the workplace can take many forms. Nearly any team can use some type of peer training based on their employees’ current skill sets and needs. Below are just a few of our favorite peer-to-peer training examples.
- One-on-one peer-to-peer training in sales: Our team leans heavily into peer training and coaching. One way we do this is through real-life practice scenarios. Our sales reps record scenarios such as delivering a demo or navigating a difficult conversation regarding a contract and then share it with team members for instant feedback.
- Peer training with a small sales group: Our sales team also meets on a weekly basis to review recent sales interactions. Then, as a group, we break them down, identify what went well, and candidly discuss areas for improvement.
- Peer learning and customer service: Peer-to-peer training is just as effective for customer service reps as it is for sales reps. We’ve seen the best support reps practice responding to help tickets, chat interactions, and even emails and then send them on to their teammates for review. This gives them the chance to apply key skills like active listening and empathy, and then receive direct feedback on their level of performance.
How to encourage peer learning
Sure, peer-to-peer training may sound like a no brainer. But despite numerous benefits, companies are still pretty reluctant to adopt a peer-to-peer training program. In fact, many organizations lack any type of peer training in their training efforts. The good news is that anyone can implement peer-to-peer learning in business with these five tips.
- Show the benefits of peer learning: This step is really important. Explain why and how it’s beneficial to everyone involved. It’s also best to get executive team buy-in.
- Create a process: Every great peer training program includes an efficient and simple process. Be sure to train every employee on peer-to-peer learning best practices. The best processes also establish and encourage a safe environment of trust and transparency.
- Identify subject matter experts: Peer-to-peer training is only as good as the training content. We suggest identifying and enabling subject matter experts across your team to create and deliver your peer training.
- Focus on real-world situations: We’ve found that the best way to hone your skills through peer training is with real-world scenarios. When teammates know that the exercise is a common task or situation that they’ll have to deal with in the future, they’re more likely to engage with the content and apply what they learn.
- Gather feedback: Once your team starts engaging with your peer training program, it’s time to review how the program is going. Create a review process to manage quality control, participation, engagement, and satisfaction.
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Our powerfully simple training software makes it easy for sales and service teams to learn, practice and perform like never before. See how teams use the Practice feature as part of their peer to peer training program here.